Steve Borg (folklorist)

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Steve Borg

Steve Borg has done extensive fieldwork in the recovery of Maltese folk music.

is a folklorist, Maltese language album producer and heritage researcher. He was born on the 24th of April, 1964 at the David Bruce Military Hospital in Imtarfa, and hails from Marsaskala.

His paternal grandfather was Ġużeppi Borg, a school teacher from Bormla who was known for writing songs, including Lil Malta, Karita' ma' Tfajla Għamja and Il-Fellieħi, in Maltese.

Environmental Activism and Cultural Awareness

Borg is well known for active stances in defence of the natural environment and our built heritage, the promotion of the Maltese language and the releases of Maltese music albums.

He served as secretary of the ngo Malta Heritage Trust, Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna, especially at Fort Rinella, the Vittoriosa underground shelters and Notre Dame Gate in the 1990s, and takes pride in having saved many historic sites from architectural degradation or demolition, especially in Kalkara, Marsascala and Sliema but also in Valletta, Birgu and Mdina, prior to the establishment of urban conservation areas. He contributed to the drafting of the Heritage Act and the Archives Act, of the Laws of Malta. He then assisted Greenpeace Mediterranean as a volunteer and activist, in issues relative to urban pollution, drag net and driftnet fishing in the Mediterranean, waste recycling and separation at source.

Borg identified these Maltese melodies within the Marsden collection, at King's College London, in 1999.

Appointed secretary of the Friends of the National Archives, where he helped very substantially increase the Reference section in the main reading room by obtaining donations, and the Anthony Valletta lepideptora bequest to the same institution.

In 2009 he contested the European Parliament elections on behalf of the Partit Laburista and lobbied in favour of the reduction of air pollution, the protection of biodiversity, inclusive education, improved literacy levels and social housing.

During the campaign he had proposed the creation of cultural routes in Malta, to facilitate the production and access to the performing arts, and the inherent cultural mapping of the country.

Music Production & Other Publications

Steve Borg retrieving folk music recordings in 2012.

Borg has produced and presented three television series on National Malta Television, pioneered in world music programmes on Radju Bronja, Malta's cultural radio, having probably Malta's largest collection of world music. He was active with Politeatru's productions of works by Chekhov, O'Neill and others.

In 2000 he co-founded Malta's then leading modern folk band Etnika, after having identified Malta's oldest known folk melodies at King's College University in London. Borg and Etnika won the Malta Music Award for Cultural Achievement in 2001. He featured on the 20c stamp on Maltese old traditional instruments, issued by Maltapost issued in August 2001. He has also identified a collection of old Slovenian documents, which he officially handed over to the Slovenian Archives in Ljubljana in 2005.

Borg was an anchor in the docu-film Etnika: in search of a Lost Voice, shown in several film festivals around Europe in 2004 and was interviewed by several foreign broadcasting companies, including Deutsche Welle and film actor Elliott Cowan in relation to his contribution to Maltese folk music.

In 2006 he edited Ruben Zahra's A guide to Maltese folk music, that was awarded Best Production for a non-Maltese language Book in 2007 by the National Book Council. In November 2010 Klabb Kotba Maltin published L-Alkemista, his translation into Maltese of Paulo Coelho's masterwork O Alquimista, which was shortlisted for Best Translation in Maltese. His translation was read by Manuel Cauchi for Radio 101 in summer of 2013.

Dominic Galea, Simone Attard, Steve Borg and Kor Mirabitur, December 2012.

Borg managed Malta's acclaimed singer-songwriter Walter Micallef and his modern folk sextet Walter Micallef u l-Ħbieb, and produced M'Jien Xejn (I am Nothing) in 2003 and Ħamsin (Fifty) in 2007, and organized numerous gigs and concerts around Malta.

In 2009 he produced another Maltese language album, entitled Ommi (Mother), featuring Doreen Galea as vocalist, melodies by Dominic Galea and involving 14 seasoned musicians, including Ġorġ Puse Curmi, Sammy Murgo, Pawlu Borg and Walter Vella.

In 2013 he co-produced the album Taqbila with composer Dominic Galea, which included seventeen children's songs from the pre-war period, some recovered from his fieldwork. The songs were sung by Kor Mirabitur, under the direction of Simone Attard to the arrangements made by Dominic Galea.

Addressing the guests during the launch of Corazon Mizzi's Hawn Jien, University of Malta, January 2014.

In January 2014 leading vocalist Corazon Mizzi launched her eleven-track release Hawn Jien (Here I Am) at Temi Zammit Hall, University of Malta, an album that was also produced by Borg. He also announced that he shall only produce two other albums, one entitled Diwja together with Dominic Galea and Walter Micallef's third album.

Recovering and Preserving Maltese Folk Music

In 2013 he brokered a very important and unique bequest made by Dr. Karl Partridge and Professor Frank Jeal concerning traditional Maltese folk instruments, including the żaqq, photographs and field material to the National Archives of Malta. This included audio recordings with the last nine żaqq folk musicians, made between 1971-1973 and the acquisition of two żaqq chanters, possible the oldest in existence.

Addressing the invitees during the bequest of Maltese folk instruments at the National Archives, May 2013.

Borg is currently recovering other folk music material, in his quest to enhance Malta's collective memory and its dispersed intangible heritage.

He was also instrumental in identifying and recovering a substantial collection of over 500 hours of master Maltese folk singing open reel tapes from the 1960s. This is the Leli Muscat Collection, featuring over forty seven folksingers, which he purchased on behalf of the Friends of the National Archives on Easter Sunday 2013.

In the summer of 2013 he interviewed most of the active folksingers and opened nearly one hundred and fifty pages on the M3P site, making it the largest online database of Maltese għana.

Author of Maltese social history and oral testimonies

In April 2014, the Prime Minister Dr. Joseph Muscat launched J.J. Camilleri's autobiography Malta li Għext Fiha, that was edited and annotated by Borg. During his work on this publication, Borg sifted through over five thousand pages of documents, that were held by the late Camilleri, and he identified the first Maltese alphabet as formulated by the Għaqda tal-Kittieba tal-Malti and presented to the Maltese Government in 1921. It had, since then, been misplaced. All the material was presented by Borg and Camilleri's sons to the National Archives in January 2014.

In November 2014, Klabb Kotba Maltin published Il-Moħba, Borg's translation in Maltese of Trezza Azzopardi's Booker Prize's shortlisted book The Hiding Place, an original collection of short stories in 2021 Tad-Demm u l-Laħam that was also shortlsted for the National Book Prize.

Borg has also written ethnographic publications, based on a twenty five-year research conducted through oral testimonies on the Maltese people, with the first volume entitled Il-Maltin: għemilhom, drawwiethom, ġrajjiethom: l-ewwel volum, published in 2017 by Klabb Kotba Maltin. It was shortlisted for the Book of the Year Award by the National Book Council. The second volume, published in November 2018 won the Book of the Year Award. Borg is currently concluding the final volume of his trilogy, due to be published in 2024.

Interviewing folksinger Joe Vella l-Bokser in Żejtun, August 2013.

Borg is a graduate of the University of Malta, the University of Northumbria and has acquired his PhD with the University of Hull. He was the addressee of a written message sent to the People of Malta, by Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet, on the eve of a new millennium. He sits on the National Archives Council.

Borg remains committed in his quest to protect, recover and curate the threatened or dispersed heritage of the Maltese people. His passion is snorkeling and growing native trees and shrubs for eventual planting in public places.He is the chairperson of the Governance Board for the Inwadar National Park.

External Links

See also

Category:Steve Borg Photos