Residents and visitors to Gozo are in for a treat as the Gozo Youth Wind Band and Orchestra is celebrating the 20th anniversary since it was founded by putting up a series of events that promise to be nothing short of spectacular.

Since its establishment in 2002 following a successful tour in Gozo by the Derbyshire City and County Youth Wind Band and Orchestra, the Gozo Youth Wind Band and Orchestra has put up many public concerts of all kinds, with a focus on variety to appeal to an audience of all ages while striving to introduce new arrangements to the local music scene.

In fact, over the last 20 years, the group, consisting of two separate groups of young and promising musicians hailing from all over Gozo, has premiered hundreds of musical arrangements in Gozo, bringing quality entertainment to Malta’s sister island while exploring new and innovative ways to present its performances.

Its members meet regularly to prepare a stylistically varied music repertoire to be performed. Apart from showcasing its young musicians’ talents during concerts, the orchestra also strives to broaden their boundaries.

These efforts include, among others, organising masterclasses with distinguished musicians from abroad and participation on joint concerts and events with the Gozo School of Music and other educational institurions.

The Gozo Youth Wind Band & Orchestra was founded by Maestro Joseph Grech, a Victoria, Gozo native, who now serves as its director.

Mro Grech has been practising music from a young age, and trained as a conductor under the eminent Maestro Joseph Sammut, founder of the Malta National Orchestra and its resident conductor until the mid-90s. In July 2018, Mro Grech graduated as a scholar after reading for a PhD degree in musicology at the University of Nottingham.

The varied and exciting programme of events organised to celebrate its 20th birthday kicked off back in January with its flagship Don Bosco Grand Concert and followed by From the Beatles to U2 at MCC, Valletta in May. Another five events are planned through to the end of 2022.

Coming up next is Opera vs Pop Under The Stars on Monday 1st August, organised in collaboration with the Ministry for Gozo and the Embassy of the United States of America. The 14th edition of the concert will feature soprano Nicola Said (Malta), bass Noel Galea (Gozo), pop tenor Ludwig Galea (Malta), pop tenor Francesco Nicodeme (Malta) and pop singers Sarah Bonnici (Gozo), Francesca Sciberras and Fabian Galea.

The first part of the programme will consist of classical and operatic songs and arias, followed by an array of lighter pop arrangements from soundtracks and musicals in the second part.

The following month, the Gozo Youth Wind Band will present the 7th edition of Stage and Proms on the Sea at the Mġarr Marina. The band will perform a colourful repertoire reminiscent of London West End show and evergreen masterpieces from the Proms on a stage just touching the sea, with submergible lighting features adding to the spectacle of the evening in the picturesque harbour in Gozo.

Expect excerpts and medleys from musicals as well as classic encores performed in the BBC Proms Final Night held at The Royal Albert Hall. The concert will feature pop singers Sarah Bonnici (Gozo) and Ludwig Galea (Malta) interpreting various roles.

The audience will be able to enjoy the show, held on Monday 12th September, from the overlooking promenade, free of charge, while a special designated seated VIP area will also be available for patrons to enjoy the evening with a dinner.

A special repeat performance of the rock bonanza, From The Beatles to U2, will be held on Sunday 30th October at Aurora Theatre. The event, organised in collaboration with 7 Star Pyramid Productions, will feature a rock band, a full 55-piece orchestra, and an 18-piece backing chorus.

Established pop singers will perform various numbers. These include Ludwig Galea, Neville Refalo, Dorothy Bezzina, Chris Grech, Sarah Bonnici, Kurt Cassar and Keith Anthony, while Gozitan rock band Cash & Band will also participate.

Along with cooler weather, November will also see a gala concert organised with The Helping Hands Group at the Aurora Theatre, The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. The event, to be held on Saturday 19th November, will be the official commemoration of a joint anniversary celebration, with The Helping Hands Group also celebrating 25 years since its founding this year.

The gala evening promises to be an arresting event on the lines of the Beijing production, Masterpiece. The Gozo Youth Orchestra has been granted permission from The Really Useful Group (London) to celebrate the music of Sir Lloyd Webber’s immortal musicals, including The Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar, Starlight Express, Whistle Down the Wind, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Woman in White.

A full orchestra performing original West End orchestrations will be complemented with the best pop singers on the island together with projections and light effects to render the show more spectacular. The artistic direction of this concert will be entrusted to Tony Bezzina of Masquerade Theatre Company.

The Gozo Youth Wind Band and Orchestra will bring the landmark year to a close at the Astra Theatre with Christmas Rocks The Astra on Wednesday 28th December, organised in collaboration with 7 Star Pyramid Productions. The concert will feature Cash & Band, and will draw on the group’s past successes to expand the show in order to appeal to a wider audience, with rock music given a tinge of classical touch through instrumental (orchestra) and vocal (choir) mediums while the visual element will be augmented with the use of lighting designs and projections.

Twenty years after its founding, the Gozo Youth Wind Band and Orchestra’s events are mainstays of the Gozo’s cultural calendar, attracting locals and tourists alike year after year. This year’s programme builds on the group’s previous success, adding that extra special something to mark the occasion by delighting its audiences.

The Gozo Youth Wind Band & Orchestra thanked the Ministry for Gozo, Arts Council Malta, Festivals Malta, The Cultural Heritage Directorate within the Ministry for Gozo, The General Soft Drinks Company Ltd, MTA, Karkanja Debelopments Ltd, Paul Stellini Design Studio, The Duke Boutique Hotel and Seven Star Pyramid Productions for their support.

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