During the past two weeks, I have been reached out about my previous post and would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those that shared, commented, liked or disliked it. I am also humbled by the almost 300 likes on my page. Thank you.
Since we are on the verge of the first feast of the year, that of St.Paul’s in Valletta, for my almost-bi-weekly post, I will be sharing my point of view regarding the traditions and the way we use this word to take advantage of changes we want in our bands, feasts, concerts etc. Obviously, this is my opinion on the subject and I am more than aware that this is not what all of the feast enthusiasts would agree with.
We are all in favor of traditions and in keeping them up to standard and improving our technology, materials, and all that goes with it to have a feast to get anyone else jealous of. Competition is good and healthy, but when we overdo things it becomes a farce.
Let us take for example the length of the festivities. I recall the traditional feast used to be 5 days of activities centered in the center of the village where everyone leaves their home and come together to celebrate. Nowadays we start from a week before, starting off with the “Ħruġ min-Niċċa”, then Monday, Tuesday, we will have a marathon march where the band will have to go round the village where most of the people there will just ignore the music, and than rush to village center so that in last half hour, we could go in front of our rivals, sing two/three marches “bil-kliem”, and leave to live another day for another half an hour.
Then we have the spectacular show by the band with a grand concert featuring all sorts of things, Eurovision singers, bagpipes, fireworks, all in a dragging 2/3hrs concert. What shall we say about the morning march? A 4 hour set of march playing and the longest/largest band one can afford, all the sake of tradition.
I think all this is just lame and helps everything else except keeping our traditional traditions alive.
If I recall well, the feast should start on the “L-ewwel Tridu” day which happens five days before the feast day, so why on earth, we keep it going for eight? I also do not see the point of having a 3 hr long march, going on a site visit of the village for no one to care, and then rush to at least be in the village core the last hour. Many argue that funds are lost if we do not pass in these odd streets. I would say, that if we keep our marches in the core streets of the village, no one can argue about this. As I see it, the feast is for everyone to go out of their homes and join the celebration as a community in the village core. This will also help in starting the march, say 8:30 and finishes off at 10:30, letting people go to work the following day. Apart from this, the clubs wouldn’t need to have a seventy strong band to coupe for three hrs but a mere fifty would be enough, cutting cost and get fewer escape flaws from the musician, that tend to hide behind each other when forming part of big (exaggeratedly big) wind band.
The same story happens during the morning march. It is useless to have four hours (Four not three) going round in circles to finally arrive at the village core for the last hour where everybody is in the square, while the musicians have endured three hrs of sun soaking session while playing, sometimes not even given enough water to hydrate themselves, when all in all it is the last two hours that matters. Since we are at it, handing a ticket to get yourself a bottle of water at the end of the march is not how it goes, especially if only one or sometimes none were given during the whole three/four hrs. It neither makes sense if you have two stops in the first hour and then nothing more. for the rest. It would make sense if at least once every hour a bottle of water is given to all the musicians.
I kept the feast concert for last for a reason. Obviously, for me, it is the most important part of the feast as regards to music and its preparation. I am going to say it as it is; a concert lasting more than two hours (even more than one & a half hour is on the same level) sitting down, and hearing to music, speeches on end, is just plain boring for every spectator, let alone the musicians. Something I really hate is a concert full of singers, senseless surprises, the yearly synchronized fireworks display with the band making the concert everything but the showcase of the band itself.
Many argue, that this is what the people want. I would say that this is the easy way out, either because of the capability or because there wasn’t enough investment in the band itself. Having a song or two sung by a good singer (opera or pop) is always nice to have when available, but it shouldn’t be a must. I do not mind playing a musical piece which is not, let say, common to the audience ears, as this helps in giving a taste of something different. Synchronizing music with fireworks is nice, but occasionally and not yearly. We should be able to give a spectacle with the voice of the band itself without any additions in order to start and be a credible music entity once again.