MIGRATION-THEMED MUSIC AND POETRY

The ‘Map of the Mediterranean’ concert will focus on the theme of migration, with poetry by Antoine Cassar plus new music by Luc Houtkamp and the POW Ensemble. The concert is to take place on the UN World Refugee Day on 20th June.

Inspired by the ‘Map of the Mediterranean’ poem by Maltese poet Antoine Cassar, this concert of new songs, music and recited poetry will explore how migration and travel has, over the centuries, defined Mediterranean culture, its background, language, cuisine, music and lifestyle. Moved by Mr Cassar’s poem, Malta-based composer Luc Houtkamp and his POW Ensemble have created new experimental music about migration, the Mediterranean Sea and the current refugee crises, for a show that echoes the cultural values of Valletta 2018 and coincides with World Refugee Day. “Without migration, the Mediterranean would not be what it is now: a richly diverse amalgam of people with an array of cultural backgrounds and heritages,” says Mr Houtkamp. “Since the theme of migration is so relevant for today’s world, we wanted to connect our event with UN World Refugee Day, 20th June, as a symbol to connect with migrants living in Malta.”

The concert team. Photo credit: Adri van den Berg

Founded in 2001 by Mr Houtkamp, the internationally-renowned POW Ensemble is a chamber ensemble for the 21st century. Using live electronics and computers as musical instruments, the ensemble balances their work with diverse acoustic instruments and vocals, in a new approach to contemporary electronic music. The POW Ensemble has become increasingly popular in Malta, with Maltese-themed work including a recent project based on the oldest Maltese written text, ‘Il Kantilena’. After reading his ‘Map of the Mediterranean’ poem, Mr Houtkamp then sought to collaborate with Mr Cassar for the next POW Ensemble piece on migration.

“Luc contacted me a year ago to tell me he was planning a series of songs on migration, from various historical and geographical angles. We agreed that ‘Map of the Mediterranean’ was the best fit for the piece, since it describes the shapes of the Mediterranean Sea from the four cardinal directions in relation to the history of its peoples, including ancient and contemporary migrations,” explains Mr Cassar. “For the concert with the POW Ensemble, stanzas in Maltese and English will form the backbone, stringing together the various songs they have composed.”

Mr Houtkamp continued: “The theme of migration gives many points of departure for a musical event, such as the shared melodies, food, or even the names. The more problematic aspects of migration, such as the need for people to leave everything and integrate into new communities, whilst a society must likewise adapt to the new influx of migrants, are also explored by Antoine Cassar in his poem.”

The ‘Map of the Mediterranean’ concert will take place at Maori in Valletta between the 20th and 22nd June, and features Antoine Cassar reciting texts and narration, project leader and composer Luc Houtkamp on electronics and woodwind instruments, composer Guy Harries on flute, electronics and vocals, and Tom Armitage on keyboards.