Gozo’s Gaulitanus Choir has very recently returned from its latest concert-tour abroad – this time in Tuscany, Italy. The tour held following an invitation by the Associazione Artes of Prato saw the choir performing in three Tuscan cities, namely Prato, Pistoia and Lucca.

The choir gave two concerts: the first in Pistoia’s historic and beautiful Cathedral of St. Zeno and the second in Lucca’s wonderful Church of St. Maria Corteorlandini (popularly referred to as St. Maria Nera). Of course, sightseeing tours were also squeezed into the tight schedules. While the Pistoia Tourist Office, particularly through official Paolo Bresci, was very collaborative for the Pistoia event, the Lucca visit was hosted and fully organized by the Gruppo Corale Lucchese Il Baluardo and its conductor Elio Antichi. Il Baluardo also opened the Lucca concert with some numbers of its own, and made sure that the church’s very particular Christmas crib was put on in time for the concert.

Indeed, during both occasions – which were publicised in local newspapers / cultural calendars – the Gaulitanus Choir presented a concert entitled Aspettando Natale. A very varied selection of international Christmassy works was presented, including Maltese compositions penned by Colin Attard and Antonio Buhagiar.

The Gaulitanus’s third commitment was the animation of an official Solemn High Mass at Prato’s historic Cathedral dedicated to St. Stephen. Held on the occasion of the feast of St. Barbara, the protector of fireman, the mass, was officiated by H.L. the Bishop of Prato Mgr Franco Agostinelli, and attended by the “vigili di fuoco”, including the “commandante”, as well as civil and military authorities. The choir performed a number of liturgical compositions including a mass by Terenzio Zardini and ushered in the celebration with a grand Ecce Sacerdos Magnus. Two musicians from the “vigili” were also in attendance, with their contribution culminating with an interpretation of “Il Silenzio” on solo trumpet.

The singing events were not only a showcase for the Gaulitanus Choir but also for its soloists. The choir’s own soloists, sopranos Annabelle Zammit, Patricia Buttigieg and Stephanie Sultana Portelli, and tenor Joseph Calleja, were joined for this concert-tour by mezzo-soprano May Caruana, soprano Anais Schneider and baritone David Debono. The accompanist was Russian guest Daria Aleshina, while the choir’s founder-director Colin Attard conducted.

Also very significant during this tour was the full presence of the choir’s administration; namely president Revd Fr Joseph Calleja, vice-president Marvic Bajada, secretary Annabelle Zammit, the assistant to the secretary and to the financial officer Josianne Callus, along with founder-director Colin Attard.

This Tuscany concert-tour, which was supported by the Arts Council Malta’s Cultural Export Fund, was the choir’s third consecutive Italian concert-tour, following highly-successful ones in Florence and Bologna in 2010 and 2015 respectively. It was the choir’s 10th concert-tour abroad after previous performances on foreign soil had also taken the choir to the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Greece and Corsica (France).


Photos Credit: Paul Buttigieg