Another successful cultural festival comes to an end

Author: Albert W. Agius

The Maltese Cultural Festival has become a major event in the Maltese community's calendar. Hundreds of Maltese look forward to the packed programme of activities organised during the month of September.

This year's festival spread over just more than a fortnight. The format of the programme itself has not varied very much in the last several years. Basically it consists of a variety of events organised by Maltese groups or organisations to celebrate their traditions and customs.

The official opening was made by the Maltese High Commissioner, H.E. Ives De Barro during a cocktail party and an Arts and Crafts exhibition that was attended a number of dignitaries. Mr. Victor Borg, the President of the Maltese Community Council of Victoria, and the Hon Mr George Seitz MP who was representing the Victorian Premier, addressed the large gathering. Mr. George Saliba, the Festival Co-ordinator, introduced the speakers.

The children's concert organised by Mrs. Lillian Calleja is another tangible manifestation of the efforts being made to keep alive in Victoria the Maltese cultural values. This was particularly evident during the two school workshops during which Maltese artisans and craftspersons such as Mrs. Mary Dingli, Mr. Alfred Cachia and Mr. Alfred Axiaq showed their skills and encouraged the children to continue taking an interest.

The Maltese language takes pride of place during the Musico-Literary night organised by Mr. Charles Formosa on behalf of the Maltese Literature Group. This year the group launched an anthology of Manwel Nicholas Borg's poems and "Oceghanja" another anthology with the works of Mr. Joe Saliba, Mr. Manwel Cassar Mr. Manuel Casha, and Mr. Alfred Cachia. The latter has also been produce on CD with the authors reading their own poems. H.G. Joseph Grech, Bishop of Sandhurst, was among the readers. Mr. and Mrs. Ray and Louise Anastasi were the Masters of Ceremony.

Ghana (Maltese folk-singing) was left to the Ghaqda Ghanneja ta' Albion. Mr. Joe Pirotta brought the various groups of singers and kitarristi together.

One of the evenings was devoted to a fun-night with a popular ravjul-eating competition and a video of a concert at Piazza Regina in Valletta. The winner of the comjpetition, Mr. Louis Felice, devoured close to seven dozen ravjul! Mr. Victor Vassallo was responsible for bringing it all together.

The older citizens were not forgotten as a Pensioners' Day, sponsored by the MCCV Ladies Auxiliary, was organised for them under the direction of Mr. Vincent Calleja.

Historical aspects play an important part in the festival. The Maltese Historical Association showed two videos 'Operation Pedestal' and 'Malta GC - Wartime Experience'. The association's president, Mr. George Portelli took responsibility for organising this function.

The 8th of September festivity is close to Maltese hearts. As usual the Mass organised by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta at Melbourne University's Newman College, was also attended by a large number of members of the Maltese community who were later guests of the Order for refreshments.

In their turn, members of the Order took part in the Feast of Our lady of Victory organised by the Reskeon Maltese Association on behalf of and in conjuction with the Missionary Society of St. Paul at the St Mary Star of the Sea Parish church in North Melbourne. This large church was packed by members of the Maltese community and many associations were represented and brought their bandalori for the occasion. Two bands took part in procession with the statue in the streets of North Melbourne.

Entertainer and organiser Mr. Edwin Baldacchino presented the Finale Concert at the Maltese Community Centre where it had all began more than a fortnight earlier.

One of this year's highlights was an exhibition of paintings by 42 artists residing in Malta, courtesy of the Malta Society of Arts Manufactures and Commerce. The Maltese landscapes and scenes depicted brought many nostalgic memories to the hundreds who had the opportunity to see and admire them. The paintings will also be on exhibition in Adelaide.

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