“The most unique musical project in the history of Malta,” music teacher Norman Cristina spoke of Mewġa Mużika when he was taking part in it as the leader of the percussion team. He now conducts the whole citizen orchestra, convened for this project, as the volunteers are preparing to perform at the grand closing event of Valletta 2018 – the European Capital of Culture.

Mewġa Mużika, initiated by the Portuguese group Ondamarela, was supposed to end in September, with a closing concert in Mdina. However, the project was so popular and the community so strong that they were asked to perform at the closing event on 15 December.

Some of the Mewġa Mużika volunteers. Photo credit: Daiva Repečkaitė / Eve

“Many people don’t understand how much music is needed,” says Giovanni, one of the participants, who says his personal musical preferences have gone from church music through metal to classic over the course of his life. Becoming an amateur musician “felt like a dream,” says his wife Charmaine, who has taken part in Norman Cristina‘s numerous music workshops, starting with mother and baby sessions, and eventually came to join the citizen orchestra. “After giving birth, [music] helped me reconnect with the baby,” she remembers. Her daughter Claire now sports a very mature taste in music and enjoys browsing sophisticated playlists on Youtube.

Mewġa Mużika participants use both conventional musical instruments and everyday objects – like a pair of slippers. They improvise, but they do so in reaction to one another and in a team spirit. They are planning to continue performing together after this eventful year.

The orchestra will be taking part in the closing event’s fringe programme, starting 4.00pm in Valletta. Alongside, there will be an installation by Magna Żmien, an interactive dance performance called Ballroom by ŻfinMalta at Is-Suq tal-Belt, an installation inspired by the Latitude 36 project and organised by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion called Sempre Viva, and a retrospective of the AiR programme in collaboration with Spazju Kreattiv.

Later that evening, popular local music groups Tribali, The Brass House Unit and artist Ozzy Lino will be giving live performances at St George’s Square in Valletta on Saturday 15th December from 6.30pm.