The 10th edition of the lauded International Spring Orchestra Festival kicks off on Friday 1st April 2016, raising up the curtain on nine days of high-quality classical music performances featuring both accliamed international and Maltese artists. This year's line-up includes big names like Mro Brian Schembri and soprano Claire Debono, as well as renowned foreign artists like French pianist Jean Dubé, German conductor Hans-Peter Hoffman and South Korean violinist Minha Park. Fifteen concerts in all, featuring soloists, chamber ensembles and orchestras playing pieces ranging from the classical repertoire to more eclectic 20th and 21st century works by past and contemporary masters, will be offered at the Manoel Theatre, the National Museum of Archeology, San Anton Palace, St James Centre for Creativity, Pjazza Teatru Rjal, Plazzo Pereira and the Mediterranean Conference Centre.
A new concept will be introduced this year, with concerts being preceded by a 25-minute talk about the music the audience will be enjoying, putting the music pieces in context and history. The discussion will continue informally following each concert with tasting of unique food and drink. Furthermore, a number of master classes are being organised on the side of the concerts to give local musicians the opportunity to learn from international masters. This year, the Festival has also teamed up with Education to bring three highly-regarded percussionists, forming the Hop Trio, and a distinguished soprano over to Malta once a month for three months to work with two selected colleges. With the help of their teachers, the local musicians will transform their experience into a piece to be performed at Pjazza Teatru Rjal during the Festival.
Renowned Maltese composer Karl Fiorini, the mind behind the Festival and its artistic director, commented: "We believe in the power of music to bring people together and to encourage authentic interaction, and in this spirit we have come up with a perfect recipe that will not fail to delight the senses: good music, magnificent venues, delicious food and wine, and great company. We look forward to yet another amazing musical journey that will bring together both classical music aficionados and occasional listeners as we mark the 10th anniversary of the ISO Festival."
The Festival's opening concert, to be held at the Manoel Theatre on Friday 1st April, will present an exciting programme featuring the world-touring European Union Chamber Orchestra and its esteemed conductor Hans-Peter Hofmann, soprano Miriam Cauchi, and violinist Minha Park, who will bring to life pieces by Gustav Holst, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joseph Vella, and Benjamin Britten. A second concert by the European Union Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Hans-Peter Hofmann will be presented on Saturday 2nd April, starring Miriam Cauchi and pianist Charlene Farrugia with works by Benjamin Britten, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joseph Vella, and Joseph Haydn. The Manoel Theatre will host the winner of the renowned Liszt competition, Jean Dubé, on Sunday 3rd April as he presents a piano recital featuring works by Bach/Busoni, Schumann, Blumenfeld, Liszt, Cras, Rautavaara, and Visvikis. Another piano recital will be performed by 14-year old Maltese international first-prize winner Laetitia Amodio on Tuesday 5th April at the San Anton Presidential Palace, featuring works by Beethoven, Liszt, and Debussy. On Monday 4 at the National Museum of Archeology the Auris String Quartet will give a performance of Haydn, Beethoven, Shostakovich and Popovic's string quartets. Marseille's enfant terrible of electronic music, Philippe Petit, gives his rendition of Mahler's Titan Symphony No.1 on Wednesday 6th April at St James Centre for Creativity. On Thursday 7th April then, the spotlight turns to the Italo-Maltese Camilleri-Lucini duo's eclectic flute and guitar recital at Casa Pereira in Valletta, featuring works by Thomas, Granados, Ibert, and Piazzolla. Friday 8th April will offer the public a spectacle by Ritmi-KA, a group of 50 students from the St Ġorġ Preca and St Benedict colleges, who have since January been coached by the Marseille based HOP TRIO. The Rising Stars concert series is a platform dedicated to young, highly talented youngsters aged between 8 and 18. Daily concerts will be held at 12.30pm from Monday 4th to Saturday 9th April at St James Centre for Creativity's Music Room (Sudio B). The Festival wraps up with a bang with a concert at the Mediterranean Conference Centre featuring the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of principal conductor Mro Brian Schembri, pianist Lucia Micallef, soprano Claire Debono and the New Choral Singers performing pieces from the repertoire of Roland Conil, Ludwig Van Beethoven, as well as another world premier of Karl Fiorini's ‘of gods and dogs'.
For more information and for regular updates on events, visit the ISO Festival's website - http://www.iso-festival.com. Tickets, ranging from €5 to €30, are available from the booking offices of the respective theatres, or through ticketline.com.mt. The organisers are offering the possibility to purchase block tickets for the whole Festival for €100, free admission to children aged 15 and under, and a 50% discount to students and senior citizens. Lunchtime concerts are at 12:30pm, evening concerts at 8:00pm.