The King’s Own Philharmonic Society of Valletta is celebrating its 150th year since its formation in 1874.

During a press conference at the club’s premises, president Ivan Piccinino highlighted the main celebratory events which will kick off with a traditional march in Republic Street, Valletta, on Sunday, September 24. The society has invited all band clubs in Malta and Gozo to accompany the King’s Own Band with the flags of their respective band club.

Piccinino said this particular event was an opportune way to open the celebrations in the presence of other band clubs in Malta and Gozo.

The president said that next year, the King’s Own Band will take part in several musical and vocal concerts, to be held at the Manoel Theatre, Sir Temi Zammit Hall and the Presidential Palace in Valletta. Argentine tenor Gabriel Arce, currently based in Madrid, will be the guest singer at the society’s annual concert at Sir Temi Zammit Hall on February 17.

Among others, the band will join the Vilhena Philharmonic Society ‒ who is also celebrating its 150th anniversary ‒ for a grand band march to be held along the streets of Floriana and Valletta in April. Both societies were founded by Mro Giuseppe Borg.

Internationally renowned Mro Jacob de Haan will lead the King’s Own Band in a concert at Pjazza Teatru Rjal in Valletta on June 22. For this special

occasion, de Haan, who already boasts several musical works such as Free World Fantasy and Music Xperience, will be dedicating a new musical work exclusively for the King’s Own Band.

The society’s committee has also planned a number of cultural events, including the launching of a book documenting the club’s history and a tour for its members to Bologna, where St Dominic is buried, towards the end of May. The band is expected to participate in a parade along the main streets of Bologna and execute a musical concert at the Basilica di San Domenico.

A thanksgiving mass, led by Bishop George Frendo of Tirana, Durres, at the Basilica of Our Lady of Safe Haven and St Dominic, Valletta, will be held on April 7. An oratorio, featuring the life of St Dominic of Guzman, will be peformed at St Dominic’s in October.

During Holy Week, the society will be organising a Passion pageant, in conjunction with the Ghaqda Madonna tal-Grazzja Banda San Mikiel, Żabbar, along the streets of Valletta.

For the past months, the club’s committee has been working on two projects to ensure next year’s celebrations will reach the desired expectations.

These include the refurbishment of the club’s main hall named after King Edward VII, who authorised the society to use the name The King’s Own Band upon his accession to the throne in 1901, and the digitisation of the club’s musical archives. Both projects will be inaugurated next year.

The King’s Own Philharmonic Society was founded by Mro Borg in 1874 . According to Malta bil-Gżejjer tagħha u li għadda mingħaliha by Pietru Pawl Castagna, published towards the end of the 19th century, a number of enthusiasts of the feast of St Dominic formed the first band in Valletta, named La Stella.

Throughout its 150 years, the society has reached a number of important milestones. The King’s Own was the first band club in Malta to be given the title of ‘Excellence’, following its success in all categories during an international concours in Algiers in 1912. Moreover, the King’s Own was the first civil band in Malta to play the Maltese anthem in public at St George’s Square in 1936, while in 1945, at the end of World War II, the band participated in numerous festivities and played the march, Victory, written by its renowned bandmaster Vincenzo Ciapparat.

The King’s Own Band is currently directed by Mro Dr John Galea who is celebrating his 20th year as bandmaster, assisted by Mro Anthony Cassar.

More details, related to next year’s festivities, can be downloaded from the club’s Facebook page and website.

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