Ushering in spring with some classical sounds

Now in its sixth edition, the International Spring Festival aims to bring classical music to a wider audience.

Artistic director Karl Fiorini: “classical music was being idiotically dubbed as the music of the elite”.
Artistic director Karl Fiorini: “classical music was being idiotically dubbed as the music of the elite”.

"Excellent concerts, collaborations between local and foreign musicians, a social dimension as well as most of the events need to be free," is how artistic director Karl Fiorini describes the International Spring Festival, which will be held at The Manoel Theatre from April 10 to 14.

The festival - whose first edition took place in 2007 - will open at the Manoel Theatre at 20:00 with the young Maltese piano virtuoso Charlene Farrugia performing Beethoven's well known Waldstein and Liszt's Dante Sonatas together with the Prokofiev 3rd sonata and Ginastera's first.

From Wednesday to Saturday lunchtime concerts (at 12:30) will include masterpieces of the piano repertoire with a special spotlight on young up and coming Maltese musicians to be held at the Sala Isouard. On April 11 at 20:00, again at the Sala Isouard, Ruben Zahra's Crossbreed Ensemble will take the listener on a journey of 20th as well as 21st century trumpet, piano and percussion music, including arrangements of known 'rock classics' by Zahra himself. On Thursday, April 12 at 20:00 Sophie Charpentier and Olivia Gutherz will perform a Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord recital 'au tour de' Bach, his sons and their contemporaries in the main theatre.

The festival will close on Saturday at 20:00, with the Parisian Elixir Piano Quartet performing Mozart's G Minor Piano Quartet, Mahler's Piano Quartet in A Minor and Schumann's Piano quartet in Eb Major.

"Through the last few years I was feeling a resistance towards classical music being idiotically dubbed as the music of the 'elite' and the theatre as restricted to the upper echelons of society," Fiorini said when discussing the ethos of the Spring Festival. 

"There is nothing elite in listening to good music that calls for a degree of auditory sensitivity and attention. This kind of music is best listened to in specific venues purposely created to convey the acoustic conditions this music requires to be fully enjoyed. In Malta, the only venue of this kind is the Manoel Theatre," Fiorini added.

The preparations for the first edition of the Spring Festival began in 2005. The original idea was to have master classes for strings (violins, violas, cellos and double basses) with professors teaching students coming from different countries - this did in fact come to fruition, and the project had students coming from France, the US, the UK, Russia, Japan and elsewhere.

"Unfortunately such an event was impossible to reproduce annually due to financial constraints, while it lacked the essential infrastructure at the time to keep it going, so the festival's vision was changed to one more concentrated on the performance rather than the pedagogical aspect. Still, the educational element has remained strong and in each festival there are either children's concerts, open rehearsals or as this year, master classes by one or more of our invited artistes," Fiorini said.

In fact, this year the Italian saxophone player Antonino Mollica will be giving master classes at the Johann Strauss School of Music from April 11 to 13.

Tickets are free of charge and need to be reserved from the Teatru Manoel's booking office on 21246389 or [email protected].