I’d been meaning to go to a concert at St. Catherine of Italy Church for a while. I was coerced today by my seven year-old, who’d been to a concert a couple of Sundays ago and loved it.
You have to visit a church like St Catherine’s to get a sense of Valletta’s baroque splendour. Even among the scaffolding of a full-scale restoration project, there is much to feast your eyes on: the elegant semi-circular windows, the portico and the dome characteristic of the Italian architect Romano Carapecchia, responsible for the reconstruction of the church in 1713-14.
Cappella Sanctae Catherinae, Malta’s first all-male voice choir, chose their name because two of their number, Fabio Billi and Giuseppe Agulli, are actually restorers at the church. For their first outing, coinciding with Malta’s Republic Day, the nine-men choir chose pieces from Palestrina and Asola. There’s something quite magical about the timbre of the male voice singing cappella music in the intimate space of St Catherine’s. There were moments, during the concert, when you could close your eyes and easily lose yourself in the intricate mesh of altos, tenors, baritones and basses.
If you want to have a taste of what Cappella Sanctae Catherinae sound like, see below. This is definitely a choir to watch out for, irrespective of whether you’re a lover of classical music or are just interested in exploring new genres of music. The lunchtime concerts at St Catherine’s continue to offer much to savour. By paying your €5 donation, you’ll be supporting the arts in all senses – those who volunteer the music, and the restoration of St Catherine’s. Fabio, Giuseppe and their colleagues have another solid year of painstaking restoration to go. After which, you’ll be able to feast your eyes upwards to what is apparently a unique style of cupola fresco by Mattia Preti and school.