The impressively preserved baroque architecture of Valletta, a UNESCO World Heritage City and capital of the Maltese Islands, will reverberate to classical strains when the Valletta Baroque Festival returns to the city next month
Running from 12-28 January, this world-class annual event, which is now in its fifth year, celebrates baroque music in all its forms with a packed agenda of concerts and performances staged in the city’s most memorable settings.
Baroque music dates from the early 1600s and was dominant until the Classical style took over in the mid-1700s. The style is predominantly defined by spirit-lifting harmonies and the sound of the harpsichord, and is best known today by the works of composers such as Handel, Vivaldi and Bach. There can be few better places to appreciate baroque music than in Valletta, which is home to one of the best preserved contiguous collections of baroque architecture in Europe. Its elegant and beautifully embellished churches, cathedrals and public buildings make impressive venues for a range of events throughout the festival fortnight. The festival calendar comprises 24 performances held in nine different venues across Valletta, including Teatru Manoel (one of Europe’s oldest theatres), the magnificent St John’s Co-Cathedral and Grandmaster’s Palace, and several splendid churches such as the lavishly embellished Ta Ġieżu Church. By taking place in these, the city’s most significant baroque buildings, the festival both celebrates and reflects Valletta and Malta’s unique identity and fills the city with music from the era in which it was built.
Being firmly established on the global music scene, the Valletta Baroque Festival attracts the most prestigious baroque artists and ensembles. Both international and home-grown talent are well represented, with particular highlights of the fortnight including a performance by the European Union Baroque Orchestra; a baroque opera performed with puppets by the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles; and works by Bononcini and Hasse by the Basel Chamber Orchestra.