Thursday, 22 November 2018

Christmasghanja Album

by Stefan Attard

Upon receiving various requests for a Christmas CD, Schola Cantorum Jubilate decided to produce one.  Christmasgħanja is a Christmas album with 21 tracks of popular Christmas carols including some local ones. The recording was held earlier this year, precisely last January, at St Augustine’s Church in Victoria Gozo.

This album release happens also close to the fifteenth edition of Carols by Candlelight with which Schola Cantorum Jubilate is synonymous. The carols presented are among the most popular and with origins from different countries though many have an arrangement by Sir David Willcocks whose name is closely associated with Christmas carols. Other musical arrangements were done by Paul Portelli, who is composer-in-residence for the Gozitan choir. Prof. Dion Buhagiar was also asked for his edition of Ninni la tibkix iżjed. Trebles Miriana Farrugia and Romey Bajada sang solo verses in this Maltese traditional piece.  Among the other carols, there is the Silent Night that is currently celebrating its two hundredth anniversary and O Holy Night with director and soprano Marouska Attard interpreting the solo part. Bass Albert Buttigieg was entrusted with the solo part of Ríu Ríu Chíu, an Iberian traditional carol that is accompanied by traditional percussion instruments led by Michael Camilleri.  Albert Buttigieg together with treble Elaine Curmi interpreted the solo parts in Good King Wenceslas. Two young choristers from the SCJ Children’s Choir were involved in this recording. Mark Attard (treble) sang the last verse of Away in a manger while Simon Zammit (treble) interpreted the unaccompanied first verse of Once in Royal David’s City.

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The local għanjiet presented in this album include Is-Sultan Twieled by Carmelo Pace and L-Għanja tal-Qniepen by Joseph Abela Scolaro. The Metropolitan Archives in Mdina granted permission to Schola Cantorum Jubilate to edit and adapt these pieces for SATB. Furthermore, Emanuel Galea’s Sinfonija Pastorali is also present in this album with two versions. One of the versions include the choral singing that was arranged by Paul Portelli who included also a flute accompaniment, here played by Sarah Xerri. The other version, the original score is for the organ only and was played by Joseph Camilleri on the Mascioni organ.

The recording was carried out by Ben Connellan from Giraffe Productions, UK. Established in 1995, Giraffe Productions provide skilled technical and artistic services to the classical record industry. In fact, Mr Connellan had recorded various renowned artists and ensembles amongst which the BBC National Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Vasari Singers, the Bath Camerata and the Kings’ College Choir. The duplication was assigned to a Maltese company – Reciprocals.

Christmasgħanja was launched on November 22nd, feast of St. Cecilia, patron saint of musicians at the Metropolitan Cathedral Museum. This cd title is composed of two-words: Christmas and għanja with the aim of imparting a hint that the cd includes Maltese traditional carols. Even the colours chosen for the title are related to the colours of the Maltese National Flag.  The front cover derives from an original painting ‘Infant Jesus venerated by the Angels’ by Gio Nicola Buhagiar and is kept in a private collection.

This cd is now available on the local market and undoubtedly provides the ideal gift for all Christmas and music-lovers. Arrangements are underway to have this cd available also online sources. For further information contact Schola Cantorum Jubilate on

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