Welcome Message by
H.E. President George Vella
My wife, Miriam, and I are very pleased to welcome you to the 2020 edition of the President’s New Year Concert.
This is the first time I am hosting this event as President of the Republic and I am therefore all the more satisfied to host and address you tonight.
As with the beginning of every year, this is a very good time to reflect on the achievements we made during the past twelve months and more importantly, plan ahead for the coming year.
As I reflect on this first year of my Presidency, I wish to thank you – the general public, for having supported the causes of national unity, acceptance and dialogue among us Maltese, but even more so with our foreign guests.
Diversity is what makes our nation as unique as it is.
Music is an excellent vehicle to bridge this diversity and is in itself an international language of dialogue. Through it, we express our emotions of joy and sadness, we sing our wishes and lament our disappointments, not only as individuals, but also as communities and nations.
I do hope that this evening’s event, is one that instils a feeling of contentment and hope for the New Year.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and Festivals Malta, for having seen to the preparations of this event. I also thank them for the support they extend to me along the months, for the benefit of the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation.
I wish you and your loved ones, health and serenity, for the New Year.
Ludwig van Beethoven
Knights of Malta Ballet Suite
II Court Dance
III Air de Branle
IV Grandmaster’s Minuet
Overture / Habanera* / Chanson Bohème* from Carmen
Masquerade Waltz / Sabre Dance
Hungarian Dance No. 5
For half a century, the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra has been Malta’s leading musical ensemble.
The orchestra was founded in April 1968, when musicians from the defunct “C-in-C” orchestra of the Malta-based British Mediterranean Fleet regrouped as the Manoel Theatre Orchestra. It continued to serve as the theatre’s resident orchestra until September 1997, when it became an independent orchestra, taking up the name National Orchestra of Malta. The orchestra became the MPO in 2008 when it expanded into a full-size symphony orchestra, bringing together the best of Maltese talent and musicians from Europe and beyond.
Joseph Sammut, the C-in-C’s last conductor, was the orchestra’s first conductor, remaining at the helm until 1992. Since then, the orchestra has also been under the direction of Joseph Vella, John Galea, Michael Laus and Brian Schembri.
This season, the MPO has appointed Raoul Lay as its Artistic Director, together with Sergey Smbatyan as Principal Conductor and Michael Laus as Resident Conductor. The MPO also works with local and international guest conductors and soloists including Lawrence Renes, Michalis Economou, Guy Braunstein and Enrico Dindo.
As Malta’s only professional orchestra, the MPO averages more than one performance a week including symphonic concerts, opera productions in Malta and Gozo, community outreach and educational initiatives, as well as various concerts of a lighter nature.
The orchestra has performed in leading venues across the globe, including in the USA, Russia, Germany, Austria, China, Italy, and Belgium, and presently embarks on at least one international tour each concert season.
The MPO is a keen exponent of Maltese composers, regularly performing their works in Malta and overseas, as well as frequently premiering, and commissioning new compositions.
Through the MPO Academy and the Malta Youth Orchestra – which itself regularly gives concerts across Malta, the MPO is also responsible for the training and professional development of the next generation of Maltese musicians.
Over the past twenty years, Alan Chircop directed several international orchestras and appeared in various theatres, concert halls and festivals in many different countries. Among others, he has conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall and Westminster Central Hall in London, the London Concert Orchestra, the Sofia Philharmonic – National Orchestra of Bulgaria, the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Macedonia, the National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia, L’Orchestra Citta’ di Ravenna and L’Orchestra Sinfonica Duchi d’Acquaviva (Italy), the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra, the Leopoli State Symphony Orchestra (Ukraine), L'Orchestre Lyrique de Region Avignon-Provence (France), the Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra (Czech Republic), the Mihail Jora Philharmonic of Bacau (Romania), the Karelia State Philharmonic Orchestra, the Kislovodsk - Mineralnye Vody State Symphony Orchestra and the Sochi Symphony Orchestra (Russia); the Pleven Philharmonic Orchestra (Bulgaria); the Westsächsische Philharmonie and the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Symphony Orchestra Leipzig (Germany), the Camerata con Cor(d)e of Belgium and the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra.
Alan Chircop’s repertoire is very wide ranging and apart from an extensive symphonic and concerto repertoire, he has directed several opera productions and contemporary music premieres.
In 1993 he obtained the Diplome de Fin d’Etudes in pianoforte with distinction at the Conservatoire Regional de Musique in Lyon (France). He pursued his studies at the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Music Academy in Leipzig (Germany) obtaining two Masters Degrees: in Pianoforte under the tutorship of Prof. Christoph Taubert (1994-2001) and Orchestral Direction with Prof. Gert Bahner (1997-2003). He also followed a one-year specialization course in Orchestral Direction with Prof. Uros Lajovic at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna (Austria).
Alan Chircop was also the Founder and Principal of the Euro Academy of Music and Arts in Malta (1997-2007); Artistic Director of the Virtuoso Classics Concert Series (2003-2005); and Artistic Director of the Renaissance Cultural Foundation (2006-2008). In 2009 he was appointed Advisor to the Government of Malta for Music Education and was Principal of the Visual & Performing Arts Schools within the Ministry of Education.
He is also the Artistic Director of the European Foundation for Support of Culture and often serves as jury member of international music competitions.
London-based mezzo soprano Marvic Monreal hails from Malta.
Marvic performed Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Malta Philharmonic for Europe Day concert, hosted by the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU 2017 in Malta and the International Spring Orchestra Festival. She also performed the alto solo in Mahler’s 2nd Symphony under the baton of international conductor Semyon Bychkov at the Royal Festival Hall (London), and was part of the Salzburg Festival Young Singers Project 2017, where she debuted with Pisana in Verdi’s I due Foscari alongside Placido Domingo and Joseph Calleja. Marvic also sang with Sir Bryn Terfel in Malta at Joseph Calleja’s annual summer concert. Marvic was a participant of the Georg Solti Accademia in summer 2018.
She started her opera and classical music training under the supervision of soprano Gillian Zammit. At the age of fifteen, she joined the University of Malta Junior College Orchestra. It was here where she was introduced to a classical and sacred repertoire and was given the opportunity to perform in various local concerts. Furthermore, this experience also gave her the chance to sing in concerts held at several cathedrals, concert halls and public events in Germany, Italy and France.
The building of an interesting repertoire enabled her to sing recitals in Sweden Opera Theatre and Finland Mariehamn Alandika Theatre. In 2014, Marvic enrolled on the postgraduate vocal studies programme at the Royal Academy of Music (RAM), where she studied with Elizabeth Ritchie, James Baillieu, and Ingrid Surgenor. She graduated with distinction and DipRAM, and joined the Royal Academy Opera in 2016.
At the RAM, she has performed several roles in opera scenes under the direction of Simon Iorio, Chris Cowell and Luke Gaspar and the musical direction of Gareth Hancock. She also took part in Royal Academy Opera’s production of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress as a member of the chorus.
Marvic sang the role of Marthe in Charles Gounod’s Faust with Winterbourne Opera in Salisbury in July 2015. Later that same year she performed alongside the international Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja under the direction of Steven Mercurio, in his annual summer concert in Malta. She also performed the title role of Dido in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas at the Teatru Manoel in Valletta in collaboration with the Valletta 2018 Foundation in October 2015.
In 2016, Marvic joined Glyndebourne Festival Opera as a Jerwood Young Artist, she also covered the role of Dog in LeošJanáček's The Cunning Little Vixen and Hippolyta in Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
On the Royal Academy Opera course, Marvic has had the pleasure of performing the role of Bradamante in Handel’s Alcina, the role of Venus in Orphée aux enfers and Mrs Peachum in Die Dreigroschenoper. In opera scenes she sang La Principessa from Adriana Lecouvreur.
Marvic was awarded three prizes in her first two years at the Academy: the Edna Bradford Prize, the A M Parker Prize, and the Esther Hulbert Award, and she won the Isabel Jay Prize Competition. MarvicMonreal would like to thank the Malta Arts Scholarships, Janatha Stubbs Foundation and the BOV Joseph Calleja Foundation for their continued support, she was also a Drake Calleja Scholar.