Folk music has been a key player in the revival and strengthening of many musical styles and genres such as Brahms’ Hungarian Dances and John Barleycorn’s Traffic, to mention but a few. Recently, folk has also been experiencing a revival the world over thanks to efforts by young musicians. Malta, too, is experiencing this revival in folk.
This revival is evident in events such as Għanafest, Malta’ very own folk music festival which is not only popular, but also very diverse in content and presentation. The acts, which include locals as well as foreigners, have enticed not only devout folk fans but also a lot of young locals and foreigners who appreciate Maltese-Mediterranean music. The festival comprises performances, talks and presentations about Maltese folk instruments such as the flejguta (Maltese flute), żafżafa (Maltese friction drum) and the żaqq (Maltese bagpipes).
The 2015 edition of Għanafest will stand out from previous editions as it is also being supported by the Malta CHOGM Task Force in preparation for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held this November. Because of this special event, the year’s festival will incorporate instruments tied to different Commonwealth countries and which have also become extremely popular throughout the years because of British influence and exposure.
Għanafest features a variety of musicians such as Jali Diabate who plays the koro (a traditional 21-string West African Harp), Ashwin Batish who plays the sitar (an ancient Indian instrument) and Rura, a Scottish Highlands-based band that will be introducing Scottish music to Għanafest for the very first time.
Maltese għana also has its very own platform, featuring a variety of seasoned musicians performing emotive folk songs in an array of styles. This musical genre’s true essence lies in its storytelling capabilities. Maltese artists include the likes of Rita Pace, Yvette Buhagiar, Evan Plumpton, Corazon, Walter Vella and Domenic Galea. Flamenco dancing also finds its place in this festival with Allegra Dance Company, which will also be delivering lectures, workshops for adults and also workshops for children on folk music. Tberfil (the writing found on old buses) workshops will once again be organized because of popular demand.
The Għanafest will take place on the 12th – 14th June at the Argotti Gardens, Floriana. For more information, please visit the Għanafest official website.