The restoration by Din l-Art Helwa of the 18C positivo organ of the Our Lady of Victories Church in Valletta gathers final momentum on the organ balcony of the church as restorer Robert Buhagiar assembles its parts in readiness for the inaugural concert that is to take place on the 5th December within the cadre of the Malta International Organ Festival. The restoration has been made possible with the support of the Eden Leisure Group who have been passionate about returning the instrument to the church so its voice can be enjoyed once more by the public.
The historic instrument is made up of 271 pipes and it disappeared from the public eye while being kept in storage for safe keeping by the Valletta Regeneration Committee when this had been organising the early restoration of the church of Our Lady of Victories. Brought back to the church when it was entrusted in guardianship to Din l-Art Helwa by the Government of Malta in November 2011, the organ is a simple one-manual instrument rare in Malta today. When played it still projects the original timbre and pitch intended for it in the 18 th century. Its own original antique carved wooden cabinet was also discovered in the church by Din l-Art Helwa together with its ‘finto’ pair, and painstaking restoration of both revealed original gilt and paint in the Sicilian decorative style below layers of grey overcoat.
Organist Hugo Agius Muscat who has personally followed the history of this organ for several decades will play the organ during the inaugural recital, accompanied in parts by baritone Joseph Lia. The musical programme, chosen specially for an organ of this pitch and age by Dr Muscat will contain excerpts from Corelli, Bach, Zipoli, Durante, Oxinagas, Caccini, and Maltese composers Grech, Galea, and Azoppardi.
Simone Mizzi, former President of Din l-Art Helwa who leads the Victory Church project for the organisation, said ‘It is so fortunate for the church that the organ has remained almost intact all these years, as such instruments are subject to much swopping and altering of parts. Its restoration by Robert has been a labour of love made possible by the Eden Leisure Group. Din l-Art Helwa is very grateful to them for their belief in this project and we are most excited that it is going to be played once more in the very place for which it was intended and within its own 18c gilt decorated cabinet’.
Kate de Cesare, PR & Marketing director at Eden Leisure Group said ‘we are thrilled to have been able to support such a worthy cause and to have closely followed the transformation from salvaged wreckage to the beautifully restored instrument it has become once more. As major contributors to the entertainment industry today, we feel it fitting to have been involved in the restoration of an instrument that inspired and uplifted so many in the past.’
CAPTION: Kate De Cesare, director at the Eden Leisure Group, Simone Mizzi, former President of Din l-Art Helwa with Robert Buhagiar, organ restorer.