The Three Palaces Festival

3 - 12 NOVEMBER 2017

Under the artistic direction of Peter Manning

The Three Palaces is a young festival which has grown into a prestigious international event, that continues to develop its reputation doing great credit to Malta’s cultural calendar. The Three Palaces Festival’s principle aim is to uphold and integrate the excellence of music matched only by the uniqueness of its setting – Malta is rich in tradition, heritage and culture and this is reflected partly through 400 years of the Knights of St John rule.

The Three Palaces Festival was built on the foundation of community engagement and this spirit has been running strongly through the choice and decision-making by the artistic director. The philosophy of the festival is that all people should have the right access to the sites of heritage and the right to participate in the expression of music – and also have accessibility to the transcendent beauty of art. It aims to build an even more inclusive and welcoming environment in which people see themselves reflected in the art – and feel the connection between historical and modern music that reflect the true identity of a nation and beyond.


Artistic Commitment and Innovative Approaches

The purpose of The Three Palaces Festival is to present the finest communicative performers working today and develop new dialogues between the audience and musicians with established world stars, young talent and future leaders of the performance world. Enhancing and fully developing Malta’s great arts presence on the world’s stage is a strategic aim and we stand to rise the next generation of creative ‘artist-level’ music performers underpinned with music education developments across the island. The festival strives to give broad access to arts education through school participation, arts tourism and less formal groupings of musicians and other artists driven by live music productions and performed by the most innovative and fresh new talent alongside the finest established artists to continue the rich exchange of live and deeply rooted culture both North and South of the Mediterranean. 

Music interest has been one of the pillars of the community and it is the responsibility of those in charge to bring music to the people, whether local or visiting. It helps increase the vibrancy which in turn strengthens the very fabric of those societies that are losing the arts through decreases in resources. Music is experienced by those involved. The vision, planning and organization of the festival prove to be catalysts for positive social change and create lifelong opportunities for all ages – and what is better than joining the past with the living present?

Innovation stems in the combination of orchestral instruments, vocal and operatic, keyboard orchestras, chamber orchestras and newer instrument combinations. The purpose is to theme yearly editions in order to draw in wide media and audience development support and sustainability.  In general, The Three Palaces Festival does a great deal to help keep music alive and vibrant and strives to promote a clear regional, urban and also rural identity as sites chosen might either be in the heart of the capital city or in a historical venue that lies within a village.

Many palaces were built by the Knights of St John and the chosen three magnificent buildings are still used for Presidential purposes: The Verdala Palace in Buskett, San Anton Palace in Attard and the Grandmaster’s Palace in Valletta. These internal backdrops offer a feast to the eye and the music within the Palaces enhance all sensory perceptions. The Three Palaces Festival adds flavor to most of the human senses. The exclusive locations for this music festival provide a unique setting however we have ventured into new venues, such as the Auberge de Provence and the Manoel Theatre, which created yet another magnificent backdrop for a festival that celebrates a wide variety of music genres.Since its inception, the choice of the performers does not only intend to please but also aims to provide a varied programme which appeals to the wider audience. In the third year we saw the return of the Nash Ensemble who essentially launched the festival in the first year. We experienced a myriad of established international performers and promising emerging artists and after having hosted John Lill and Barry Douglas in the first and second edition, the programming team made sure that another great pianist, Joaquin Achucaro, featured in the festival.

The festival brings immeasurable benefits to culture, economy, musical education, social structures and heritage awareness in one of the lowest tourist seasonal months.


Community Involvement

While it is the festival’s mission to add significant value to the people and the economy of the islands through the involvement of local audiences and visiting foreign audiences in     November, (a month where theatre is at its highest but tourism at its lowest) the organisers are still proud of the national impact the festival has on classical and contemporary music. Extensive media coverage and involvement ensures that many more people can derive pleasure through the knowledge of compositions and composers, musicians and scores.

The festival gives young people the opportunity to experience and participate in listening to, appreciating and also join in masterclasses available during the event itself conducted by international and local artists involved in the festival’s extensive programmes. The Three Palaces Festival offers educational opportunities for all age groups by stretching and occasionally challenging listeners with music they may not have heard before, sitting imaginations and giving people memories to share and take home. Indeed, in the last edition of this festival John Wallace conducted a Masterclass for Brass Band Club students and around 300 young students attended.

The fact that the festival takes place in various historical sites it also brings awareness of the magnificent architecture that enriches the island giving the opportunity for young people to sit and admire and hold to heart the history of the nation. It heightens a sense of protectionism and preservation of the built heritage for future generations. By opening up doors to palaces not frequently visited by the local young, it highlights the want and the need to appreciate Maltese heritage.

The process is that of deepening the arts by engaging music dialogue with government, education entities, local communities, young and not-so-young societal factions to create a forum for the world of music and the arts highlighted by architectural splendor and the necessary exciting flow of audiences from around the world.


European and International Engagement

In the 21st century, the fabric of music and the arts presence on Malta offer an enormously rich cultural heritage spanning 7000 years of history – it is a natural backdrop for independent and positive initiatives that we now need in promoting diversity. And this diversity is reflected in the Festival’s annual programme.

The Knights of St John were the nurses and doctors of Europe bringing eight langues or auberges working together – and together they nursed the fighters and protectors of their faith. Later, through adversity and attack, they needed to come together as one to fight intruders – they built walls to protect the locals and themselves. Today, these same walls draw down the bridges and use their internal structures to promote unity – unity and strength within the artistic European structures, inviting other nationalities that might agree or not with the cultures, beliefs and intentions of each other. Through music these barriers are brought down bringing musicians from the North of the island, the continent but also from the far West and East and the neighbouring South.

The culture of Europe is rooted in the art, architecture, music and literature and this common heritage is engraved in a rich historical content. This opulent and dynamic material culture has a strong concept expressed by individuals and thereof celebrated in groups, communities and audiences. The plurality of states with different political orders might push ideologies away from each other but through the initiatives and endeavours of festivals the likes of The Three Palaces in Malta it brings these states together, feeding off and not on each other and in turn guaranteeing freedom of expression, the preservation of traditions and knowledge and respect for peoples, states and nations within the Union. In today’s political ambience and changes, festivals must proclaim strength in diversity through the many different facets of music and musicians. Festivals are integrators, unifiers and engagers- these are upheld by principles of inclusion. They certainly leave a mark in European multiplicity opening the doors to other art creators and musicians beyond the European shores thus endorsing acceptance, tolerance and peace.  The Three Palaces Festival has a European identity with a true sense of an international stamp. It is this combination that makes the festival a success year after year.