The L'Isle Adam Choir Books
This documentary is about Malta’s most significant musical and liturgical collection housed at St John’s Co-Cathedral. The curator of St John’s Co-Cathedral, Cynthia Degiorgio will introduce us to the splendour of the cathedral and the extraordinary heritage left to us by the Knights of St John within this most glorious cathedral. Theresa Zammit Lupi will talk about the history of the L’Isle Adam manuscript collection and will highlight elements of the manufacturing techniques of the parchment leaves, illuminations and binding. She will also draw parallels with other similar manuscripts in Malta and abroad.
Lecturer - Dr Teresa Zammit Lupi
Documenrary introduced by Cynthia Degiorgio
Curator - St John’s Co-Cathedral and Museum
St John's Co-Cathedral and Museum
In a city measuring 900 metres by 630 metres, Valletta is an exquisite Baroque gem boasting several auberges and palaces and 30 churches... including the magnificence and splendour of St John’s Co-Cathedral. A description of this resplendent cathedral cannot be captured in one mere paragraph. It is the most glorious jewel of our islands, built by the Knights of St John, housing Pretis and Caravaggios, and dazzling the eyes with intricate stone carving, inlaid marble, gilding, and opulence and richness. It is a monument to the spirit of high Baroque. An unassuming severe façade belies what is experienced upon entering. Commissioned by Grand Master Jean de la Cassière as the conventual church of the Order of the Knights Hospitaller of St John, known as the Knights of Malta, St John’s was built between 1573-78 and designed by Maltese architect Girolamo Cassar.
Artistic Director's Notes
There is one place in Malta that I consider a gem above all gems – and that is St John’s Co-Cathedral. The Knights of St John left an incredible legacy in Malta, not least in visual art and architecture. Another national treasure is the L’Isle Adam Illuminated Choral Books: a set of ten exquisitely illuminated manuscripts, dated 1533 – one of the first commissions by the Grand Master L’Isle Adam while in Malta – from the celebrated scriptorium of the collaborators of Jean Pichore, active in Paris and Rouen. Both are of extraordinary historical and artistic significance. It has been an honour to collaborate with St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation, its curator, Cynthia Degiorgio, and respected art historian Professor Theresa Zammit Lupi, together with our film director Luke Cassar, to create a documentary to share this world of glorious opulence…
photo by Joe P. Borg
The L’Isle Adam illuminated graduals were the subject of Theresa Zammit Lupi’s doctoral thesis which was submitted in 2008. Since then, Theresa has never stopped studying these choir books. She has travelled to Berlin and the US to look at other related manuscripts and has also discovered several music fragments in local collections, namely at the Notarial Archives in Valletta, which had been recycled into covers for notarial bindings after the changed with the Council of Trent. Theresa has prepared a conservation treatment proposal for the ten choir books in the hope that they will be conserved in the near future.
Dr Theresa Zammit Lupi
Theresa Zammit Lupi studied conservation in Florence and London and did her doctoral studies in the Conservation of Manuscripts at Camberwell College, London where she specialised in French Renaissance choir books. In 2017 she was awarded a Katharine F. Pantzer Fellowship at Harvard University. Theresa has worked as a conservator in the UK, Italy, Egypt, Switzerland and Malta. She is currently Consultant Conservator at the Notarial Archives Valletta. She is the author of ‘Cantate Domino - Early Choir Books for the Knights in Malta’. Theresa is an accredited conservator in Malta, Italy and the UK.
photo by Daniel Cilia
Disclaimer: All the necessary precautions to safeguard our artists and crew were taken during the filming of this project. 'The L'Isle Adam Choir Books' is produced by Festivals Malta, in collaboration with the St John's Co-Cathedral Foundation and the Valletta Cultural Agency. The Three Palaces Festival is sponsored by Kinnie, Hertz, MAPFRE MSV Life and the Ministry for National Heritage, The Arts and Local Government.