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The seventh edition of this annual springtime festival organised by the Gaulitanus Choir was brought to a grand ending, as has been the case in the last editions, with another semi-acted production from the musical theatre. This was held at the Kempinski, San Lawrenz on Friday 3rd May.

The evening, featuring selections from three musicals: Annie, Annie Get Your Gun and Carousel, was directed by choir member Terry Shaw, who was himself the evening’s principal soloist besides being responsible for devising the programme and arranging the music. Gaulitanus Choir musical director Colin Attard conducted the proceedings with the choir’s resident pianist Stephen Attard accompanying at the piano. Gozitan actress Marlene Saliba introduced and narrated the plots of the show. The choir, including its junior section, participated together with several of its soloists, namely Patricia Buttigieg, Annabelle Zammit, Marthese Borg, Josianne Callus, Mikaela Bajada, Jon Slater and Ian Grech. Guest British singer Julie James completed the line-up.

As explained to the audience at the start of the show by musical director Colin Attard, this concert proved to be a big headache for the organisers. Guest British principal soloist, Emma Darling, and choir soloist Joseph Buttigieg, who were due to feature prominently in the show had, unfortunately, to retire from the production due to an unforeseen hospitalisation and a lingering vocal problem respectively. The organisers moved in time to find replacements with Julie James and Marthese Borg stepping in for Darling and James Saliba supposedly replacing Buttigieg. Unfortunately Saliba broke an ankle in the very last days and had to be operated upon a day before the production. At this point it was too late to find an available artist, but the production team managed to re-work his numbers, including re-assigning a few lines to other soloists, thus making it still possible to perform all the planned numbers notwithstanding.

Still, the end result was a highly-enjoyable, lively, colourful, flowing, and slick production with all the participants raising up to the occasion – whether the very professional and experienced performers or the young up-and-coming ones, as well as the disciplined choir which, while discarding its usual uniform to wear more Western-like attires fit for the musicals put on, performed its numbers with gusto and verve. Indeed, these have become a few recurring principal characteristics of the Gaulitanus Choir’s productions, especially noticeable when it comes to performing this genre. This was surely something which the audience thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed, and its reactions to what was happening on stage were very visible throughout, as were its applauses.

The big audience which attended included quite a few distinguished guests, namely Parliamentary Secretary Dr Franco Mercieca and Mrs Mercieca, the Hon. and Mrs Frederick Azzopardi, the Permanent Secretary at the Gozo Ministry (one of the festival sponsors) Ms Joyce Dimech, Tourism Director at the Gozo Ministry Mr Manuel Tabone, the Senior Manager at the Gozo Institute of Tourism Studies (where most foreign artists were accommodated) Ms Maria Fenech Attard, Mr Michael Grech from the Michael Grech Financial Investment Services (co-sponsors for the festival), BOV (another co-sponsor) Gozo Manager Mr Jack Thewma, Ms Maria Portelli from the Victoria Local Council (another collaborator of the festival), and Mrs Tita Tabone. These and the choir members were treated to a post-concert pasta-buffet at the hotel’s terrace, thus happily concluding this marathon  seven-week festival, which, with its 19 concerts, was the largest edition so far.

While the organisers wish to thank all the sponsors, helpers, participants and audiences, which helped to make this edition of the festival as successful as it was, they look forward to the next edition!