The Gaulitanus Choir musically closed the festive season in Gozo with the 8th edition of its End-of-Festive Season concert. This time the concert – featuring the choir, its soloists and friends under the direction of Colin Attard and the accompaniment of Stephen Attard – was anticipated to New Year’s Day and fittingly entitled “A New Year’s Toast”. Organized in collaboration with the Gozo Cultural Office, this festive and highly-varied concert was held at the Gozo Ministry’s Exhibition Hall, which was over-packed with the audience present.
The concert started with A Savoy Suite, a 4-movement suite compiled for the occasion from Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera by artistic director Colin Attard. The first movement was a piano duo arrangement of the Overture from Mikado with brothers Colin and Stephen Attard joining forces. Two solo songs followed, Though tear and long-drawn sigh from Yeomen of the Guard and The sun, whose rays are all ablaze from Mikado interpreted by sopranos Patricia Buttigieg and Annabelle Zammit respectively. The suite ended with the song Poor wand’ring one from Pirates of Penzance interpreted by soprano Stephanie Portelli and the female section of the choir.
Guest up-and-coming young violinist Pierre Louis Attard then gave some respite to the singers performing the first movement (Allegro Moderato) from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Violin Concerto in A Min BWV 1041.
The three choir solo sopranos then returned with two numbers each. Annabelle Zammit interpreted two songs: Wolfgang A. Mozart’s Das veilchen (The violet) and Kerin Bailey’s Pretty flower– the latter probably performed for the first time in Gozo. Patricia Buttigieg followed with Enrico Toselli’s famous Serenata and the song My lord and master from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical The King and I. Stephanie Portelli finished up with Wolfgang A. Mozart’s aria In uomini, in soldati from the opera Cosi fan tutte and the bouncy song I could have danced from Frederick Loëwe’s musical My fair lady.
Guest Jason Camilleri, Gozo’s leading trumpeter, followed with the final instrumental number, William Paris Chambers’ bouncy polka, The commodore.
The choir’s female section returned for Edward Elgar’s beautiful and expressive 3-part song (SSA), The snow Op. 26, No. 1, accompanied by the piano and 2 solo violin parts, performed by brothers Jean Noël and Pierre Louis Attard.
The concert’s final two numbers were the most festive of the lot, being two medleys for mixed choir and an instrumental ensemble featuring violinists Jean Noël and Pierre Louis Attard, trumpeters David Portelli and Jason Camilleri, percussionist Ino Mario Busuttil and pianist Stephen Attard. The first was Leroy Anderson’s quite popular and brilliant A Christmas Festival, arranged for the occasion by Colin Attard and also briefly featuring soloist Annabelle Zammit. The second, arranged by Colin and Stephen Attard, was entitled New Year’s Medley and also included brief solos interpreted by Joseph Buttigieg, Stephanie Portelli, Ian Grech and Josianne Callus. Yet the hallmark of this medley, made up of several American and British well-known, was the fact that the arrangement included lot of audience participation, which raised up the atmosphere in the hall to big heights. The medley fittingly ended up with a climactic Auld Lange Syne.
However the fare was not over yet. After a Happy Birthday was sung to the choir’s pianist, Stephen Attard, the audience was served with sparkling wine and asked to join in the bis: the Drinking Song from Sigmund Romberg’s The Student Prince, thus ending “A New Year’s Toast” in the best possible of ways!