50 images Created 6 Dec 2010
The Maltese band clubs have their roots in the sixteenth century when drums and flutes accompanied feasts and processions, but the idea of forming philharmonic societies started in the second part of the 19th century, under the influence of the marching bands of the British Empire ruling over Malta, and Italian music. In many parishes small bands were formed by individuals, most of whom could not afford to buy a musical instrument , so they often asked for help to the local businessmen. After the WWII there was a band club in every parish and in 1947, when the number of band clubs in Malta was about 60, after turbulent circumstances nearly all the clubs joined the newly formed Band Clubs Association, that today represents 95% of band clubs in Malta, 84 band clubs. According to the latest survey by the local National Statistics Office, the total number of bandsmen/women amount to over 4000, more than a quarter of whom are women. Vitually every town and village in Malta has its own band club, il-ka?in tal-banda, some even have two and certain villages celebrate two feasts, one dedicated to the patron saint and the other celebrating another saint, the so called "secondary" feast. In the past, when a village had more than one club, an intense rivalry developed, at times violent as each struggled to celebrate their saint. Today this strong competitiveness is channeled in a more positive way and rival band clubs struggle to decorate the façade of the club's in the most colourful way and play new music. A band is normally composed of 60-70 volunteers and professional players, men/women, playing a variety of woodwind, brass instruments and percussion. Still today the band clubs are part of the social and cultural history of the Maltese islands an institution of every town and village, spreading Maltese culture and teaching of music. Many local musicians owe their success in part to the encouragement and teaching of their local band club.