The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra’s first overseas tour dates back to 2001, and since then, it has increasingly ventured beyond Malta’s shores. Given its status as Malta’s only professional orchestra, going overseas – and facing audiences used to listening to leading classical music ensembles in the process – helps guard against complacency and keep standards high.

This year, the MPO will be embarking on a tour of Germany and Austria, performing in leading venues in Munich, Stuttgart, Wiesbaden, Berlin and Vienna, in a concert that will be first given in Valletta’s Mediterranean Conference Centre.

Mindful of its role as a cultural ambassador and as an exponent of local works, the concert will feature a work by contemporary Maltese composer Albert Garzia, especially commissioned for the occasion by the MPO. Garzia’s work Kewn (existence), for orchestra and solo viola, with American violist David Aaron Carpenter taking up the solo role.

Under the direction of Armenian conductor Sergey Smbatyan, the MPO will also be performing a piano concerto from Alexey Shor together with another Armenian musician, pianist Nareh Arghamanyan.

The concert’s highlight, however, is Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony: which was actually his sixth when his unnumbered “Manfred” Symphony is taken into account. The composer was particularly enthusiastic about this work, only to end up deeply dejected by a muted public reaction to it. But the symphony, a four-movement cyclical piece with a recurring main theme evoking the idea of fate, has since grown immeasurably in stature.

This concert is supported by the Valletta 2018 Foundation.