The Choir

is a whopping jewel

in Clare's musical

crown

Giles Swayne, Composer-in-Residence

News

Malta Tour Blog - 6

Date: Saturday 12 July 2014

Reviews

 

Malta Tour July 2014
Day 6

 

“It’s okay, one of Malta’s best surgeons is here”

 

Our sixth day in Malta started in relatively unassuming fashion, with yet another slightly tardy departure from the hotel – what with this being our final day on the island, it would almost have been a shame to be ready for the coach when it actually arrived.  In fact, most of the group was so busy comparing the severity of various tan (burn) lines, that we were even later than our usual 15 minutes behind schedule, loving referred to by our great leader as “Maltese Time”.  The effects of Day 5’s extended time in the sun were clearly showing on several people, with certain individuals opting for long sleeves and collars to avoid further discomfort.  It would be cruel to name names here, but it should be noted that the disgraced former head of “tan management” was amongst those who had adapted their usual summer dress.  However, with the help of several gallons of after-sun, spirits remained high as we left for another informative tour from the never-tiring Dr. Mark Agius.

 

The first sight that welcomed us to Valetta was the stunning Grand Harbour, which is probably better known to much of the Western World as Black Water Bay*.  We were then treated to a walking tour of the town, which included a visit to the Church of St Paul’s Shipwreck: yet another vibrant example of Catholic interior design, which this time also included a relic of the wrist-bone of St Paul himself.  Needless to say most of those present treated this visit with due reverence, although there was one young man, not from the choir, who had decided to sit in the pews next to this relic and play a fairly violent game on his smartphone.  Such a sight was quite engrossing for several of us, but sadly we do not know whether or not he completed the level he was playing, for it soon became clear to this anonymous boy that he was being watched (and silently judged).

 

The touristic highlight of the day came later, however, when we were touring the cathedral of St John.  This glorious landmark plays host to two separate works by Caravaggio, a discovery that sent L.A.D Booth-Clibborn, a second-year Art Historian into spasms of excitement.  His exhalation of joy upon seeing the larger of these two pieces, The Beheading of John the Baptist, was audible to most of the cathedral, and he could be heard muttering “genius”, “perspective”, and “tenebrism” for several hours after we had left the cathedral.  Thankfully there was a chance for everyone to calm down slightly, with a couple of hours of rest back at the hotel in Sliema, where some paid a visit to the sea, and others were inexplicably drawn towards the free wifi on the seventh floor.  We then all got changed and left at 6.30 (Maltese Time) for our final concert of the tour.

 

The evening’s performance began with a hymn and some plainchant in an incense-filled Carmelite priory, followed by a procession across the road to the altogether different Anglican Cathedral, which was to be the venue for the rest of our programme.  However, things did not run smoothly from here, as in the middle of Lassus’ ‘Magnificat’, one of the can basses fainted, catching his nose on the hard marble floor.  Fortunately those nearby were quick to respond and ensure he was safe, whilst the rest of the choir stoically carried on, albeit with now only one person singing the bass part.  A couple of the audience were able to step in and relieve the basses of their medical duties and, several pieces in, Mark Agius was able to announce to us all that Can Bass 2 was in the care of a fine surgeon who had happened to be in the audience that evening.

 

The evening then continued in the usual manner, with singing, food, and ‘Cisk’ in increasing proportions, as we all made certain to use up our final Euros before having to leave the next afternoon.  For most, the day ended fairly sedately in the nearby bar, although I am told that our two senior choral scholars made their way to the beach for a late-night swim, accompanied by one or two others.  Photographic evidence of this particular event does exist, although the photos are sadly far too graphic to share on this blog.

 

*cf Game of Thrones.

 

Kit Preston Bell (Can Bass 1)