‘Gaude et Lætere’ … ‘Rejoice and be glad’ is a Christmastide concert organised by the Xagħra Local Council. This is the thirteenth edition of the Christmas Concert held at the Basilica of Maria Bambina in Xagħra.
The people of Xaghra have a special admiration for Christmas and this can be seen in the fact that many artists and amateurs build a crib and open their doors to invite the general public for a visit. Perhaps the most popular crib remains the one build by the male members of MUSEUM. This group of lay-men were the first in Gozo to work a mechanical crib, with nativity figures, animals, angels or stars moving while the nativity recount proceeds with background music.
The Xagħra Local Council encourages such traditions and supports even new activities which include various exhibitions of Christmas decorations and demonstrations of traditional food-preparations for Christmas. However, Christmas is not possible without a concert of Christmas Carols and in fact the Mayor and councillors assigned Schola Cantorum Jubilate to organise this annual event.
Schola Cantorum Jubilate, an established youth choir whose choristers hail mainly from Xagħra, had performed in this concert in 2006. Surprisingly enough, the date chosen for this year’s edition is the same as five years ago. The concert will be held on the feast of the innocent that is on Wednesday 28th December. It starts at 7pm and will be held at the Basilica of Maria Bambina in Xagħra. This concert is being held in collaboration with the Most Reverend Archpriest and Chapter of the Basilica.
Schola Cantorum Jubilate was established in August 2000 and since its inspection, it went from strength to strength in professionalism and gaining more popularity along the years. Though it is mostly known for its annual event of ‘Carols by Candlelight’, the choir is active all year long. Every Sunday it animates the liturgy at the Basilica of Maria Bambina and during the main liturgical periods like the Easter Vigil, it performs at the National Shrine of Ta’ Pinu. The choir had also participated in the Festival of Mediterranean Music in Corsica (2003) and even organised its tours. They have performed at the Vatican, in different basilicas in Rome and Assisi (2007) and even in Austria (2009).
In ‘Gaude et Lætare’, the choir will be accompanied by the Cordia String Quartet and members from the Jubilate Chamber Ensemble. They will all be directed by the young director Marouska Attard. The Cordia String Quartet is the first of this genre in Gozo. Its name derives from Latin which means hearts and phonetically from the Maltese word ‘korda’ which means strings. The Cordia Quartet performs in private functions and other occasions. During this concert, they will perform Corelli’s ‘Christmas Concerto’ which was commissioned by Card. P. Ottobani and published posthumously in 1714.
Schola Cantorum Jubilate will perform some pieces ‘a cappella’ in SATB and other pieces joined with the musicians. The programme includes various carols from renowned composers like George Frederick Handel, Mykola Leontovych, Rev. Fr. Emanuel Galea, Card. Domenico Bartolucci, John Rutter and David Willcocks. The musical arrangements of the pieces are by Mgr. Renzo Cilia and Paul Portelli, both closely associated with Schola Cantorum Jubilate. The concert will include also solo pieces to be performed by Soprano Marouska Attard and Bass Albert Buttigieg. Both soloists are well known in the local musical scene and both add credit to the calibre of such concerts.
During this concert, a collection in aid of the Malta Community Chest Fund will be held. Christmas remains the time for generosity and any contribution will surely help support those in need. Entrance for this concert is free of charge and everyone is invited. It is suggested that patrons arrive in church 15 minutes before the start of concert. More information about the concert can be obtained from the choir’s website (www.scjchoir.com) or from the Xagħra Local Council (www. xaghra.com)