‘Avant-garde’ expression in a Baroque setting

Modern Music Days is an avant-garde concert series which sets about to “splash vibrant colours” over Valletta’s historical snapshot.

Powerplant. Photo by Kathy Hinde
Powerplant. Photo by Kathy Hinde

Modern Music Days (MMD) is a brand new international concert series committed to promote 20th century repertoire and contemporary music.

MMD aims to motivate existing audiences and draw in new ones through its adventurous programming. Indeed the premier concert of the series on Saturday, 11 October will feature an eclectic and multimedia performance by Powerplant from the UK.

Powerplant is a percussion and electronic collective led by British percussionist Joby Burgess incorporating sound design and live visuals. The performance introduces the audience to an intriguing blend of rhythms, projections and electronic music transforming the recital to a psychedelic experience.

“A prominent figure in the alternative-classical scene… Joby Burgess, the soloist coaxed all manner of sounds… often wielding multiple sticks in each hand and even using his fingers and elbows… the words athleticism and stamina come to mind,” write The New York Times.

What makes MMD unique is precisely the contrast of avant-garde expression in a baroque setting.

The concert by Powerplant will take place at the Manoel Theatre in Valletta, one of the oldest working theatres in the world. Manoel Theatre is also one of the finest examples of baroque architecture in Malta, built in 1731 by Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena.

On Sunday 12 October MMD will present a choir and organ recital at the magnificent St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Valletta. This concert will feature Glen Dempsey, Organ Scholar at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle and local choir Schola Cantorum Jubilate.

An important strand within the framework of MMD is to support the collaboration between local musicians and international artists. The programme includes works by Leonard Bernstein, Benjamin Britten, Bob Chilcott, Philip Glass, David Lang, Olivier Messiaen, Christopher Muscat, John Tavener and Ruben Zahra.

Another collaboration between local and international talent will showcase on Sunday 30 November for the concert entitled: Ensemble. MMD has created the opportunity for musicians from the Brno Contemporary Orchestra (Czech Republic) and local musicians to collaborate as one ensemble under the direction of conductor Pavel Šnajdr.

This concert will present a fabulous programme of modern compositions by some of the most important 20th century and contemporary composers. Although the music is challenging and avant-garde it is very exciting and accessible to everyone – portraying an effervescent virtuoso performance from all the instruments in the ensemble. 

The programme includes works by Pierre Boulez, Guillaume Connesson, Trevor Grahl, György Ligeti, Witold Lutosławski and Iannis Xenakis. This concert will take place at Robert Samut Hall in Floriana, just outside the city walls next to the Argotti Botanical Gardens. The venue is only a 10-minute walk from Valletta.

Modern Music Days is organised by Teatru Manoel and the Malta Associations for Contemporary Music with the support of the Valletta 2018 Foundation and the Ministry for Finance. Bookings: [email protected] / 2124 6389. For more information logon to: www.modernmusicdays.eu