Between the 21st of July and the 1st of August, APS Bank shall be organising a series of daily events at the University of Malta’s Main Campus in Msida, ranging all the way from concerts to performative arts to stand-up comedy. The eclectic programme, put together under the eye of Artistic Director Annalisa Schembri, will bring together a diverse cast of artists and musicians for a two-week celebration of Malta’s cultural scene with a line-up including both household names as well as alternative acts.
For the second year running Malta’s APS Bank has decided to shun the recent and unfortunate Covid-imposed trend of cancelling and postponing events to instead host its own two-week festival celebrating the talent of the island’s small but fervent art and culture industry.
Kicking off on the 21st of July with a concert from renowned modern folk band ETNIKA, the festival shall run until the 1st of August, with socially-distanced performances taking place every day at 20:30 in the Quad at the University of Malta’s Main Campus, in line with all the latest guidelines and precautions provided by the Health Authorities. To that end, entrance and seating will be carefully regulated, with prospective audience members requiring both a ticket, which will need to be purchased in advance since none will be available at the door, as well as a vaccination certificate in order to be allowed entry.
However, while ensuring that all possible safeguards are in place, both APS Chief Strategy Officer Hervé Delpech, as well as the festival’s Artistic Director, Annalisa Schembri, have gone to great lengths to point out that this project marks a return to a degree of normality for Malta, as well as a chance for the country’s artists to showcase their skills to a live audience once again. As Delpech argued, “the Festival is an opportunity to move forward; life has not stopped with the pandemic and this is our duty as the Community Bank in Malta to support and create the conditions, at the time of uncertainty, for artists to perform and for the public to enjoy”.
The main theme of this year’s edition is ‘Diversity’, which is reflected in an exciting line-up that features a highly varied mix of musicians, actors and comedians representing the wide spectrum of the island’s cultural sector, both in terms of style as well as medium.
In fact, ETNIKA’s opening concert will be followed by a night showcasing the talents of both local award-winning swing and jazz band Swing Nuages, as well as the theatrical performance group ‘249’, who will be debuting their latest production – Il-Kobor tal-Umiltà ta' Prof. Oliver Friggieri (The Greatness of the Humility of Prof. Oliver Friggieri). The work shall be looking at the life of the beloved late scholar and professor through the lens of his office walls, with the audience being invited to observe the academic interacting with students, colleagues, and the vast number of visitors who used to drop in at all times seeking a word of solace or advice.
The 23rd of the month shall then see musical trio Lost Voices - Ilhna Mitlufa taking to the stage, with the group promising to deliver a new take on għana and other traditional Maltese musical genres in a blending of the old with the new that shall also be accompanied by a series of anecdotes and short stories chosen specifically for this event.
Ira Losco will be coming up next, fronting an unplugged concert on Saturday 24th that is set to be a much simpler affair than her usual gigs in order to match the smaller audience and intimate setting of the event. The pop star shall also be bringing on a number of special guests to share the stage with her, chief among them being Malta’s most recent Eurovision star Destiny, as well as local acts Michela, and Bloodline.
The following couple of days will be dominated by the MOVEO Dance Company, who shall be presenting a contemporary dance reworking of Georges Bizet’s famous opera Carmen, arranged and choreographed by the company’s Artistic Director Dorian Mallia. The adaption, which represents another merging of the modern with the traditional, promises to give audiences all that they know and love about the famous opera, but packaged and presented in an entirely new and intriguing way.
Tuesday 27th July shall then be marked by another double act as the Gala String Quartet will be delivering a programme of famous classical and folk pieces from around the world, before Pasión Tango – the festival’s only fully foreign act with no fewer than six performers from Argentina, Scotland, and Italy – put forward their own unique blend of music and dance inspired by Argentinian tango, as they promise to take audiences on a journey through the storied history of the genre.
That performance shall be preceding a band that has, throughout its long history, garnered praise and controversy in almost equal amounts, and shall now be gracing this festival with its inimitable presence as well. That band, of course, is the legendary Maltese alternative group Brikkuni, scheduled to perform on the 28th of the month. Led by frontman Mario Vella, Brikkuni are geared to deliver a performance full of fan favourites from their extensive back catalogue, while a pre-set from Ultralow Music Collective featuring Michael Azzopardi, Cheryl Camilleri, Kym, Princess Wonderful and Noah Fabri will also be making an appearance to set the mood prior to the main event.
Brikkuni’s concert shall be followed on the 29th of July with a showcase from the University of Malta’s very own School of Performing Arts, where students and lecturers shall join forces to present a varied evening of dance and music, including newly commissioned work created specifically for this performance. Afterwards, on the 30th, the festival shall turn to alternative Maltese music once more, with local bands Djun and Brodu preparing to put on back-to-back concerts for what is set to be the longest show of the festival. Both bands shall be playing music from their past albums, as well as debuting new tracks from upcoming works, including a split LP which they shall be releasing together.
The penultimate evening shall see Alexandra Alden, who became a household name after appearing as a jury member on the popular television show X Factor, taking to the stage along with her band, with the group using this evening as an opportunity to preview the singer’s upcoming album ‘Leads to Love’, thus guaranteeing audiences an exclusive sneak peek at Alden’s freshest content. And finally, on the festival’s closing night, it shall all end with the jokes of local comedy troupe Comedy Knights, who have risen up to the challenge of sending off this edition of the APS Summer Festival by crafting a new Laugh Off competition, hosted by Colin Fitz, and featuring the comedic talents of Chris Dingli, Malcolm Galea and James Ryder.
The variety of acts at this year’s festival means that there truly is something to whet everyone’s appetite. Tickets to all the performances are out now and selling fast, so make sure to visit the official website here to get yours before they run out, since the capacity will be limited due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The 2021 edition of the APS Summer Festival is being organised in collaboration with the University of Malta, Atlas Insurance PCC Ltd and Kinnie. More information about all the events at this year’s edition can be found on the festival’s website.