The second edition of the Malta World Music Festival will be making a jubilant return on the 18th and 19th of May at Fort St. Elmo in Valletta. Over the two nights, six international acts hailing from all over the globe will be showcasing the diversity, breadth and vivacity that the modern world music scene has to offer. From contemporary interpretations of archaic musical forms to purer expressions of folk traditions, the line-up has something to offer music enthusiasts of all kinds.

“I am very pleased to have managed to put together such a fantastic line-up for the second edition of the Malta World Music Festival,” enthused Artistic Director Renzo Spiteri. “Since its maiden edition last year, I wanted to ensure this festival represents acts of the highest calibre in order for the festival to reach new heights. This will surely be a festival like no other.”

Annabelle Stivala, director of Festivals Malta, discussed the progression of the festival from its original folk music focus to being a more all-encompassing celebration of world music forms with wider appeal. She explained, “Originally a folk festival which has now been streamlined, the World Music Festival embraces award winning international musicians and local emerging artists in genres that span from traditional to contemporary. As from last year, this socially engaging festival has been given a rather tempting new look. It is more fresh, trendy and carefully curated, promising the finest collection of world music Malta has ever staged.”

In its exuberant way, the festival reflects some of the intrinsic values of Malta’s current mandate as European Capital of Culture. Jason Micallef, Chairman of the Valletta 2018 Foundation said: “The Valletta 2018 Foundation is proud to be supporting this festival, especially because of its emphasis on the international dimension when it comes to diversity in music”.

Among this year’s highlights include Grammy-nominated collective Afro Celt Sound System who will be headlining Friday night’s concert. Formed by Simon Emmerson back in 1996, Afro Celt Sound System are a European and African based collective who’ve been a ground-breaking force in music ever since the beginning. With sales now topping one and a half million albums and two Grammy nominations to date, Afro Celt Sound System has been at the forefront of bringing worldbeat to the masses having performed at concerts and festivals all over the world.

Cushion, who will be flying the flag for Malta, will kick off the festival on Friday night. This local Indian fusion outfit draws heavily from the Indian tradition, with dominant sitar licks and eastern vocalisations, all backed with keyboard ambience and pulsating bass and drum patterns. Their live performances often include professional dance choreography, fire juggling and buugeng acts.

Friday night’s line-up is completed by Refugees for Refugees, a band of ten musicians under the leadership of the Belgian oud player Tristan Driessens who are actual refugees originating from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tibet. The band’s sound builds bridges between the musical heritage of their respective homelands.

Chart-topping Spanish artist Ana Alcaide will open Saturday night’s festivities. Ana has played a pioneering role in the introduction and popularisation of the nyckelharpa in Spain. Rooted in ancient traditions yet resolutely modern, her compositions deftly blend musical styles from different cultures.

Alcaide will be followed by TRAD.ATTACK!, a trio of musicians who play their own interpretation of Estonian folk, which fuses rock, folk and bagpipe music. TRAD.ATTACK draws inspiration from archive recordings of the great Estonian folk singers and instrumentalists who created and performed music for work, leisure and festivities in olden times.

The festival will draw to a close with a set from Electrik GEM! Guitarist Grégory Dargent and his motley band of instrumentalists – which includes oud, gadulka and tarhu players – merge sounds from the Balkans, the Middle East and the Orient as an attempt to musically transcribe the modern multifaceted Mediterranean metropolis.

The 2018 edition of the Malta World Music Festival promises to take festivalgoers on an expansive musical journey across time, cultures and place.

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The Malta World Music Festival is organised by Festivals Malta within the Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government, with the support of Valletta 2018, Mapfre MSV Life and Farsons.