Chamber Music at the Palace

Marcelline Agius (violin), Nadia Debono (viola) and Michael Laus (piano) perform trios by Shostakovich and Bruch as part of Three Palaces Festival 2020, a recital in collaboration with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra.



Michael Laus - Piano

Marcelline Agius - Violin

Nadia Debono - Viola


Filmed at:


San Anton Palace, Attard

Originally built as a country retreat for Grand Master Antoine de Paule, in 1620, and later expanded into a palace in 1623, this palace (and its state rooms) serve as the official residence of the President of Malta.  The palace continued to be embellished and enlarged throughout the history of the Knights of St John’s in Malta, until eventually, it was used as the headquarters of the rebel National Assembly during the uprising against the French occupation which only lasted two years (1798-1800).  On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote, the music hall of the palace was named after Malta’s first female president, Agatha Barbara.  Tonight’s performance is held in this room under the patronage of HE The President of Malta.

Artistic Director's Note

We are very privileged to be the festival that celebrates its existence within the splendour of palaces and unique spaces in Malta.  Three Palaces Festival 2020 would not have been complete without the beauty and intimacy of chamber music in a palace.  Nothing would have been more befitting in this glorious setting than three of the island’s finest musicians performing trios by Bruch and Shostakovich, through a collaboration with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra.  We are honoured to have the patronage of HE The President of Malta.


-Dr Michelle Castelletti, Artistic Director, Three Palaces Festival

Programme Notes

German composer Bruch was a prolific composer, remembered mostly for his Violin Concerto No. 1. Eight Pieces, originally written for clarinet, viola and piano, were eventually transcribed by the composer himself for this formation. 

Shostakovich’s Three Violin Duets were arranged from other pieces by the composer. The Präludium re-works music from the film The Gadfly originally scored for two guitars, the humorous Gavotte is taken from the incidental music to The Human Comedy and the Waltz is derived from a piano composition.

Marcelline Agius

Marcelline started studying violin under her uncle Joseph Galea, sub-principal of the Manoel Theatre Orchestra. She furthered her studies under Guido Mamo, Mario Bisazza, Joachim Atanassov, and participated in masterclasses with Ursula Gorniak and Richard Deacon (UK). In 1984, Marcelline joined the Orchestra under Mro. J. Sammut, and in 1993 was appointed Concertmaster, a position she still presently holds.


In 2006, she performed in Paris, with the World Philharmonic Orchestra. She toured leading the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, performing in Europe, Russia, China and the United States of America.


Marcelline is also a member of the Valletta Baroque Ensemble, and attended Baroque masterclasses in Malta and Marnaves (France).Apart from performing and recording orchestral repertoire, both in Malta and abroad, Marcelline is a very active chamber musician and soloist.

Michael Laus

After graduating from the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi of Milan in 1982, Michael Laus participated in master classes in conducting given by George Manahan and Vladimir Delman. As Resident Conductor of the Malta Philharmonic, he has conducted symphonic concerts in Malta, Belgium and Italy. He was the founder and first music director of the Malta Youth Orchestra and of the Goldberg Ensemble. In 2016, he conducted the first European performance of Arvo Pärt’s Greater Antiphons. Michael Laus has conducted the Bournemouth Symphony, the Slovak Philharmonic, the New Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Orquesta Sinfonica de Asturias. He has directed operatic productions at the Berne State Theatre and in Oviedo. He regularly appears in the double role of pianist/harpsichordist and conductor in a wide concerto repertoire, gaining international critical acclaim for his recording of Cyril Scott’s Harpsichord Concerto. He has recorded for Discover International, Unicorn-Khanchana and Cameo Classics. He is Associate Professor in Music Studies at the University of Malta.

Nadia Debono

Nadia is a conductor, composer and interdisciplinary artist with a passion for cross-art and site-specific curation, and projects receiving 5* reviews on international media.  She is Director of Oxford Festival of the Arts, following her tenure as Artistic Director, RNCM – as both Arts Centre and Conservatoire.  She is winner of THE Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts 2015.  Michelle was artistic director of the Malta International Arts Festival with a remit to lead the festival towards European Capital of Culture.  She has also been on significant jury panels, including the British Composer Awards. Michelle serves on several boards, including that of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, and is Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.  She is published by Universal Edition Vienna and recorded by BIS RECORDS.  Her re-working of Mahler’s unfinished Symphony No 10 was broadcast on the World Concert Hall, and No. 1 Orchestral Choice of the month, BBC Music Magazine – The Proms Edition, 2019.  Michelle is proud to be the artistic director of The Three Palaces Festival.


Max Bruch Eight Pieces for Violin, Viola and Piano, Op. 83, Nos. 1, 2, 7, 8

    I.     Andante

   II.     Allegro con moto

 VII.    Allegro vivace, ma non troppo

VIII.    Moderato


Dmitri Shostakovich

Three Violin Duets for Two Violins with Piano Accompaniment

  1. Präludium

  2. Gavotte


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Disclaimer: All the necessary precautions to safeguard our artists and crew were taken during the filming of this project. 'Chamber Music at the Palace' is produced by Festivals Malta, in collaboration with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and The Office of the President of the Republic of Malta. The Three Palaces Festival is sponsored by Kinnie, Hertz, MAPFRE MSV Life and the Ministry for National Heritage, The Arts and Local Government.

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