Of Exhibitions & Processions

One of the most hectic periods in the band clubs’ calendar is surely this week right from a week before Good Friday till Easter Sunday. Our clubs are turned into exhibition halls full of great works and exhibitions by local talented artists and some even do reenactments in our halls. Almost every band club organizes his own musical concert, some showcasing their most valuable funeral marches, some opt for a sacred music concert, some varies the concert with some Lent reflections, and all of this is great. During these two weeks, Malta is buzzing with musical activity.

All of this is just perfect. I understand that most of these concerts go unnoticed just because there are so many of them going on at the same time, and one cannot make arrangements to decide when to do this with other clubs as there are 80 clubs and less than 14 days to do all. We can always try and make arrangements between regions and make up a calendar for this period so we can get more attention also from the neighboring villages, but that is something we can work out if we shall. That is all great and with some more care we can even get better quality and results in our performances. To be fair, even prices for this type of concerts asked by the musicians are fair and justifiable.

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Good Friday Procession in Naxxar: Photo; Jonathan Brincat

Then the great golden egg chicken comes into play. The procession of Good Friday. Gone were the days of sacrifices and all the spirituality. It seems that on this day many clubs find some treasure under one of the old tiles and are ready to sacrifice it by giving it away in less than four hours. Musicians certainly do not fast on their pay cheque for this activity but certainly, the clubs wallet does. I wouldn’t at all hate the idea of being heftily paid for playing for four hours covering almost one-fourth (sometimes even more) of my monthly salary in the said amount of time. But really and truly who are we fooling? The problem really and truly is not coming from the musicians that are being given overly paid prices but there are two main contributors. Musicians that are not better than mercenaries that deem that their service is worth more than a Manager who has €60-100 an hour, and those society’s that accept this kind of prices (ransom) and hand over to others as well just for the sake to have the upper hand in the show of force competition. Really and truly if the formation is composed of approximately 60-65 (which is the maximum in my opinion) musicians, the band would sound more balanced and there will less abuse.

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One of the exhibitions being held during this time. Exhibition by Ludwig Noel Desira – Birzebbugia

The worst part of it all is that these mercenaries are not just happy to have gotten a freakin big bargain but they can’t keep it to themselves, affecting others in the process. Let’s be honest, no one enjoys getting paid less for the same job, although really and truly it is no one’s business to know how much his colleagues get paid and it is unethical and unprofessional to disclose such information. An almost same situation can be found in Easter Sunday marches. The truth is, these kind of prices are not just affecting the musicians that get hired but also those that play with their own band, because, let’s face it, if you are in need of money (and who doesn’t) and get offered a good sum, you feel like betraying yourself and your family if you do not accept it. There are some fools (like me) that never accepted such offers, but there are musicians that do not hold their club so much at heart and end up fighting and then the club would need to take drastic measures to save guard the un-defected local musicians. Let’s face it if there are 1000 musicians around paying more wouldn’t make then 2000 and you can’t get a better service neither.

My only hope is that we get back into senses, clubs unite and musicians understand that the golden chick is not able to produce more than it can handle, and it is better if we start to be reasonable before there will be no need to reason things out anymore.

Never the less, I hope that we all could enjoy this time with our families, attend as many concerts and exhibitions, not just because of tradition but also to show respect and encourage our local artists and clubs to invest more in their artistic work. None the less, I wish you all a Happy Easter. Just do not overdo it with Figolli and Easter Eggs, as summer is near.

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