The Times Thursday, 28th January 2010

Musico-literary event with a national message

A musico-literary evening at St John’s Co-Cathedral, in Valletta tomorrow seeks to instil hope among those who still wish to see Malta rediscover its own roots.

The author, University professor Oliver Friggieri, described his work, Ħodon Fjuri lil San Publju, thus: ”It is simply a cantata celebrating childhood and the need for Malta to become immediately aware that its real roots are fast deteriorating and will soon reach a stage in which they will not be recognisable any more at all.

“Malta still has to duly distinguish between the constants and the variables of its own personality. Such a lesson seems to have been missed at the right moment due to our acute political bipolarisation.

“Partisanship frequently makes us lose the right perspective. We have become independent and attained the status of a republic, and we have also become an EU member, but we still have to learn the elementary lessons about survival. Malta means fragility and we have reached the point of missing the meaning of being a state.”

About 90 artists are involved in this cantata. They include soprano Joan Mangion, tenor Charles Vincenti, bass Albert Buttigieg, pop singer Pamela Bezzina and Philip Farrugia Randon, who will recite the text.

The Mirabitur Choir (under the instruction of Simone Attard) will take part.

Sarah Spiteri will be leader of the orchestra, which will be directed by Ray Sciberras.

The event is being held to mark the fourth centenary since St Publius, patron saint of Floriana, was declared patron of Malta.

”But the message the cantata will convey is not parrochial at all,” insists Prof. Friggieri, the author of the well-known oratorio Pawlu Ta’ Malta, set to music by Charles Camilleri in 1985.

”The cantata intends to send a direct message to all: childhood and parrochial life are intimately intertwined in Malta, as it is in the rest of southern Europe, and on this bondage depends much of adult life. Such a bondage is in crisis.

“As children are being deprived of their right to be childish, a whole national way of life is collapsing. This is highly deplorable but Malta still stands a chance of rediscovering what it has already lost.” Ħodon

Fjuri lil San Publju also evokes events and moral characteristics that have long identified and distinguished Malta.

”We are hoping to present a musico-literary event that gives a ray of hope to all those people, quite numerous, who still wish to see Malta rediscover its own roots and instill a new sense of security and self-esteem in the younger generations who are going to inherit, in any way, a type of Malta quite different from the one cherished and enjoyed by their parents,” Prof. Friggieri said.

”A clear theme, which may, hopefully, touch the heart of many people, especially the clergy and teachers. All is not lost, very far from it, and we want to take this opportunity to drive this hopeful point home.”

Stephen Tonna, editor of Il-Furjana and one of the organisers of the event, said the performance would prove that the efforts of so many artists, although organised and put together on a purely parrochial level, could truly be beneficial to all the rest of the country.

The public is invited to attend and entrance is free. A souvenir booklet, including the text of the cantata, will be delivered free of charge prior to the performance. The public is asked to be seated by 7.15 p.m and the cantata starts at 7.30 p.m. It is being presented by the editorial board of Il-Furjana and the Floriana parish church in collaboration with the St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation.

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