I was lucky enough to be taken on a free trip to Malta recently. The choir I sing with was invited to Malta for four days by the French and American Embassies there, to open a Music Festival. This involved, among other concerts, a performance at St John’s Co-Cathedral. This place is a stunning plethora of gold and wood and every square inch of space is decorated. The floor is laden with coloured marble tombs of Maltese knights and walking into the place you are transported to another world where the church ruled all. The Maltese Catholics really know how to show their faith.
The concert was an incredible experience. Malta is a small republic but nevertheless the presence of its President in the front of the audience filled the whole choir with adrenalin and apprehension – all the better to sing with. Concentration was as sharp as the heels on the dressed up Maltese women and we did the best we could to lift the golden roof. A standing ovation – rare in Malta – followed and our sopranos and altos fought back tears. Our director wasn’t so successful in her fight and her emotion moved us all to share in her happiness.
After we’d shaken off the adrenalin and pumping hearts we were able to enjoy Malta for its natural and architectural beauty. We were able to visit Valetta and Mdina during our short stay and it gave me real desire to come back as a schedule-free tourist. Our hotel was just wonderful, with an enormous and varied breakfast buffet, gorgeous marble floors and a pool set in lush gardens with its own bar. We managed to make the most of the pool for the only free afternoon on the schedule!
The food in Malta is something which has remained a mystery to me. Meals were obviously rushed affairs as we had to respect our tight rehearsal and concert schedule. I developed a tolerance for greasy pastry petits fours which I am glad to say have now taken a long-term absence from my diet. Having said that, the warm welcome we received far outshone the quality of the snacks – we were treated like stars. I hasten to add that we are not stars, nor ever will be, and are just an amateur choir who takes delight in singing.
My feet finally touched the ground at Roissy Charles de Gaulles Airport and now it’s back to the old routine.