Our final concert was in the old opera house, or rather what was left of it following the war. However, it has since been skillfully rebuilt as an open air auditorium in the shell of the old building, and most effective it is too.
This concert was a ‘massed bands’ event involving the 50-strong Armed Forces of Malta band alongside us on stage plus the Pipes and Drums of the Malta Police Service. It would have been ideal to see a fully packed house but all who did attend – perhaps five to six hundred out of a capacity of 800 – got a real treat. Taking it in turns with the Armed Forces of Malta Band to play, both bands offered quality yet contrast, the Maltese band providing a somewhat different balance of sound having substituted flutes, piccolos and double reed instruments for more clarinets who were led at the helm by a highly confident and competent Eb clarinet player.
There followed even greater contrast for our joint pieces. Jon Yates both astonished and entertained everyone with his post horn leaving his Maltese counterpart on stage to watch in awe as he circumnavigated the audience with his circular breathing demonstration. Highland Cathedral provided a real tour to force as the bands accompanied the line of Police Band pipers and drummers, and yet further joint pieces followed. Some, like the Maltese folk song selection, were perfect for the occasion; others, such as the blues march, perhaps played just for this occasion.
Finally, a short speech by Sir Jock and a presentation to the two Maltese directors of music concluded the evening followed only by the regimental marches and anthems to finish. Without doubt this was a fitting climax to the concert and a marvellous finale to our week’s tour. Au revoir Malta: very special thanks from all of us for making our stay so memorably enjoyable.