Malta Philharmonic Orchestra

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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.

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.