Malta Philharmonic Orchestra
The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra (Maltese: Orkestra Filarmonika Nazzjonali) is the national symphony Orchestra of Malta. It was founded in 1968 and was originally known as the Manoel Theatre Orchestra, where it was in residence for both opera productions and orchestral concerts. In September 1997 the orchestra became an independent body and was officially named as Malta's national orchestra. Its current Music Director is Brian Schembri.
The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra was founded on April 1, 1968 and was originally known as the Manoel Theatre Orchestra. It was composed of a number of musicians who had previously formed part of a chamber orchestra in the employment of the Commander-in-Chief of the British Navy (Malta), better known as the C-in-C Orchestra that had been disbanded one day earlier. As the orchestra in residence at the Manoel Theatre, it regularly performed operas and symphonic concerts under the direction of its resident conductors Joseph Sammut (1968-1992) and Michael Laus (1992-1997).
In September 1997 the orchestra became an independent body and was officially named The National Orchestra of Malta. Its first resident conductor was Mro. Joseph Vella. Ten years later, in December 2007, the orchestra was expanded to a full-size symphony orchestra and performed for the first time as The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra on January 12, 2008 on the occasion of Malta's entry into the Eurpzone.
As Malta’s only professional orchestra, the MPO is in high demand, performing in over 70 concerts every year, including symphonic concerts, opera productions in Malta and Gozo, community outreach and educational programmes as well as various concerts of a lighter nature. Its busy schedule notwithstanding, the MPO has increasingly ventured beyond Malta’s shores in recent years, having undertaken its first overseas tour back in 2001. Since then, it has collaborated with numerous orchestras and opera companies and performed in leading venues across the globe, including in China, Italy, Germany, Austria and Belgium.
Over the years, the orchestra has performed with many renowned artists including Karl Jenkins, Joseph Calleja, Andrea Bocelli and Bryn Terfel, acclaimed conductors such as Michalis Economou, Peter Stark, Jean-Marc Burfin, Wayne Marshall and Philip Walsh, as well as pop stars including Claudio Baglioni, Suzanne Vega, Michael Bolton and Anastacia.
Starting in January 2005, co-operation programmes with foreign orchestras were initiated. These have led to various learning and cultural exchanges with orchestras such as the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra Sinfonica di Pesaro, Orchestra e Coro di Milano La Verdi, Orchestra e Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana, and others.
The orchestra toured for the first time, in its previous form as a chamber orchestra, during the 2001-02 season. In Belgium the orchestra performed at the City Hall in Brussels under the direction of Michael Laus, who is still its resident conductor, while in Sicily it took part in a five-performance production of Mozart 's Cosi fan tutte in Palermo. In June 2003, the National Orchestra participated in the production of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide at Rome’s Teatro Argentina, followed by a concert in the ruins of the Villa Adriana in Tivoli. Further concert tours followed, namely, a joint venture with the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra in Brno in 2006, in Pesaro in 2007, and in Lugano and Zaragoza in 2008.
In 2014, Brian Schembri was appointed principal conductor of the orchestra, succeeding Michael Laus (1991-2014).
The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra has performed with distinguished conductors and musicians in both concerts and operas. Soloists who have performed with the orchestra include Cecilia Gasdia, Ghena Dimitrova, Miriam Gauci, Joseph Calleja, Andrea Bocelli, Jose Carreras, Kate Aldrich, Daniela Dessi, and Lydia Caruana . It is also a leading exponent of Maltese composers with the ambition to promote Maltese compositions and to make them known to a wider international audience. The orchestra's extensive calendar of events consists mainly of symphonic concerts at the Manoel Theatre, theMediterranean Conference Centre and other venues, as well as opera productions in Malta and Gozo and abroad. The orchestra also ventures into the light popular repertoire with dedicated concerts scheduled during the spring/summer months. It has education programmes for children, involving them in workshops and creative talks on topics that cover the whole spectrum of music-making.
The MPO also has a number of recordings to its name. Its CDs include a project with international record label Naxos featuring works by Maltese composer Charles Camilleri and two CD series published by Cameo Classics, Music of the 19th Century Jewish German Composers and British Composers Premiere Collections. A CD featuring the music of Polish composer Alexandre Tansman with the CPO Label is set to be released in 2018.
The MPO is a keen exponent of Maltese composers, regularly performing their works in Malta and abroad and premièring – as well as commissioning – new compositions.
It is also responsible for the orchestral training and professional development of the next generation of Maltese musicians, through the MPO Academy and the Malta Youth Orchestra, which itself regularly gives concerts across Malta. At the same time, it is actively involved in organising educational programmes for children, through workshops and special performances.
While it celebrates 50 years of music, the MPO remains intent on delivering quality orchestral music to the Maltese islands, all the time continuing to promote Malta’s musical heritage overseas.
Marcelline Agius***, Reggie Clews**, Stephen Zammit*, Philipp Orlov, Matteo Colombo, Stephen Debattista, Rosanne Dimech, Natalia Filipenko, Amy Furfaro, Fiona Giambra, Agnieszka Kuźma, Ana Martínez Tos, Mario Micallef, Valhmor Montfort, Inmaculada Muñoz Salgüero, Klara Nazaj, Vincenzo Picone, Riccardo Rossano, Melanie Waite, Emilia Wiśniewska,
- Orchestral Leader ***
- Orchestral Sub-Leader **
- Section Principal *
- MPO Academy Intern °