Hagar Qim Temple Complex Takes Centre Stage at MIAF

1 July 2019

The Hagar Qim temple complex in Qrendi, one of Malta’s most celebrated UNESCO World Heritage Sites, will soon provide the stunning backdrop to two events taking place as part of Malta International Arts Festival 2019, organised by Festivals Malta.

Audiences will have the chance to experience two breath-taking productions on this unique stage within the festival: ‘Temple Percussion’, featuring acclaimed Chinese percussionist Beibei Wang; and music and dance performance ‘Guthan Aosda – Ancient Voices’.

Temple Percussion

Co-organised by the China Cultural Centre in Malta and supported by Heritage Malta, ‘Temple Percussion’ is a virtuoso recital of contemporary works including music by John Psathas, Tan Dun, Iannis Xenakis, Emmanuel Séjourné and other contemporary composers.

The primordial architecture of the Neolithic temple will portray a wonderful contrast to the innovative percussion solos featuring a range of instruments; from orchestral percussion, such as timpani, vibraphone and marimba, to ethnic porotypes and electronic backtracks. 

A highlight of the Temple Percussion programme will be the solo version of Tan Dun’s Water Concerto, which Beibei Wang will also perform as a soloist alongside the Malta Philharmonic on 6 July. This extraordinary piece uses water as a musical instrument and involves innovative techniques to explore the musicality of the sounds of water. 

Although the recital will be performed solely by renowned Chinese percussionist Beibei Wang, her friend and musician Michael Skelton will be also be joining her for the programme’s grand finale, playing percussion and Chinese instruments as she plays marimba.

Guthan Aosda – Ancient Voices

Ancient Voices

Also supported by Heritage Malta, this mesmerising music-dance performance is curated by Ruben Zahra – the artistic director of the MIAF – and features Scottish musicians John Kenny and Peter Vilk, together with Maltese dancer Diane Portelli. 
The narrative of Ancient Voices traces the folklore and legends of a series of ancient instruments. The first instrument featured in the performance is the seashell – also known as the conch. This is perhaps the most ancient instrument ever used by man to produce sound and can be considered as the prehistoric ancestor of horns and trumpets. From the conch the story moves forward in time to embrace other instruments: cow horn, Bronze Age horn, Deskford carnyx, Tintignac carnyx and Loughnashade trumpet. The script, that shall be narrated by John Kenny, is set in a way so that it’s actually the instruments themselves that speak to the audience, narrating their story.

The ritual element of the performance is enhanced through Diane’s dance and movement who is also wearing several animal totem masks, beautifully designed and crafted by Jennings Falzon. Since Ancient Voices is rooted in primordial ritual, Hagar Qim constitutes a most fitting aesthetic. The Neolithic architecture is not simply a static backdrop ... it will come alive through the creative use of light design by Christopher Gatt.

The Malta International Arts Festival

Taking place this year between 28 June and 14 July, the Malta International Arts Festival (MIAF) is one of the most prestigious arts festivals on the island, annually attracting many renowned artists from around the world to participate.  

Produced by Festivals Malta, the MIAF has earned an international reputation since its inception in 2005 for showcasing an impressive mix of talent in a variety of different venues, in a celebration of artistic innovation and cultural heritage. 

Led by the Festival’s artistic director Ruben Zahra, the 2019 edition will introduce a number of innovations to set it apart from other arts festivals around the world, including incorporating an overall theme of water, and using unique locations as performance venues – such as the Hagar Qim temple complex. “You can experience great performances in a black box environment at any international festival,” says Ruben. “But only in Malta can the audience experience artistic excellence in a Neolithic temple or on the Mediterranean Sea.”

Temple Percussion will take place at 9pm on Wednesday 3 July, and Guthan Aosda- Ancient Voices is being performed at 9pm on Thursday 11 July, both at the Hagar Qim temple complex in Qrendi.

For more information about these and other performances within the Malta International Arts Festival, visit www.festivals.mt/miaf or www.facebook.com/MaltaArtsFestival/

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