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The search for Malta’s forgotten voice

L-Ilħna Mitlufa. Photo taken by Lyndsey Bahia Courtesy Teatru Malta

Let us set the scene. It’s 1931. A group of hopeful musicians set out on an ambitious journey from the port of Valletta to that of Tunis with a goal in mind: to record Maltese music for the fist time. And the rest, as they say, was history. These recordings took society by storm, with these musicians becoming a social phenomenon in Malta as a recording of traditional music in a language so unknown and trivial at the time was the last thing to be expected.

Nevertheless, this group of composers, musicians, songwriters and poets went on to be signed to prominent record labels at the time including Odeon and Pathe Records, as they recorded Maltese, folk and popular music which was at its heyday during the inter-war period. This lead to recorded music becoming a novelty among the Maltese people, with local music playing at the most prominent hangouts and clubs. These now famous musicians where the talk of the town, until sadly, their story was slowly forgotten and lost through time.

Fast-forward to 2010, Andrew Alamango in collaboration with the Malta National Archives recovered this piece of Maltese history in a project that would bring back the lost voices of 1930s Malta. The birth of the Malta Lost Voices project saw the digitisation, preservation, accessibility, dissemination and recording of music from this forgotten time during Malta’s inter-war period. A project which revived stories and songs that had been lost for more than 80 years.

Through this discovery, the trio L-Ilħna Mitlufa was born. Produced by Teatru Malta in 2018, this musical theatre production saw an authentic yet stylised form of għana juxtaposed with various music styles from the early 30s from the lyrical serenades and waltzes, to upbeat foxtrots and the light-hearted makkjetta. Dubbed the ‘new voice of għana’, Mariele Zammit was joined by Andrew Alamango on guitar and Alex Vella Gregory on keyboard with the inclusion of various guest għannejja, in a group that would twist our idea of traditional music and open a door to the forgotten world of the 30s.

What better way to culminate the return of the Hybrid Festival on June 26th then with this project being a part of it. L-Ilħna Mitlufa will be performing at Pjazza Teatru Rjal as part of the Hybrid, in a performance which will surely transport you back to a nostalgic time where Maltese music was prominently being celebrated. In fact, the evening will highlight Maltese music at its forefront, with Dominic Galea and Centrestage choir kicking-off the evening through musical arrangements of poems from prominent Maltese poets in efforts to heighten students’ and the public appreciation for this written artform. The show will come to end with SKALD, an up-and-coming local group who fuse traditional music with a modern sound, as they launch their first offical album during the event.

For more information about L-Ilħna Mitlufa and the Hybrid Festival click here . Make sure to book your tickets as seating is limited, and there are no tickets at the door.

Have you read our article about SKALD’s new album, Kura? If not, click here.


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