MPO String Quartet
The MPO Quartet consists of members of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra: Marcelline Agius, leader; Klara Nazaj, violin; Nadia Debono, principal viola; and Akos Kertesz, cello. The string quartet was established in 2014 out of a shared passion for chamber music and friendship. It grew out of a new initiative of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra to create opportunities for the musicians to show their versatility and musicality outside the orchestra. As the name indicates, the MPO Quartet is closely related to the MPO and often represents the Orchestra in more intimate settings.
The MPO Quartet embraces music from all styles and ages, from the classical period to contemporary Maltese compositions. Their mission is to bring music to new audiences, and to introduce and promote Maltese music to the wider public. Therefore their activities include appearing in international festivals and school outreach concerts alike. The MPO Quartet has performed all around Malta. They represented Malta in the Festival International de Carthage, Tunisia in 2014 with great success.
Marcelline Agius FLCM – Violin
Since she was a child, Marcelline’s dream was always to become a violinst, and join then the Manoel Theatre Orchestra. In fact she did join the orchestra when she was only 17 years of age.
Marcelline continued to study in Malta, whilst attending master classes abroad.
At the age of 26 she got the post of Leader of the Philharmonic Orchestra, a position which still holds. In this capacity she had the privilege to work with renowed musicians and conductors and had led the MPO to perform in many foreign countries from Europe to China.
In 2006 Marcelline was invited to join the World Philharmonic Orchestra to perform in Paris, under the baton of Japanese Conductor Yutaka Sado, a unique experience which she will never forget.
Marcelline regularly attends Baroque Courses at Marnaves, France under the guidance of Ms Maggie Faultless.
She is a member of the MPO String Quartet, and of the Valletta Baroque Ensemble, which incorporates master classes with Ms. Catherine Martin.
Marcelline performs as a soloist, gives recitals, and records both in Malta and abroad.
Claire Massa – Mezzo Soprano
Claire Massa graduated from the University of Malta with a BA (Hons) in Music Studies and a PGCE in the teaching of music. She obtained an M. Mus with distinction in Voice Performance at the same university. Massa is a regular performer in vocal concerts. Her repertoire spans from Handel’s ‘Messiah’ to the operas of Mozart and Rossini, German Lieder to the French romantics and impressionists and the more demanding twentieth century works. She is currently Head of Department of Music within the Government Education Department, as well as a teacher of music in primary schools. She is also a lecturer in the Music Department within the Faculty of Performing Arts and in the Faculty of Education, University of Malta.
John McDonough – Oboe
John McDonough studied the oboe at the London College of Music with Elizabeth Fyfe (Royal Opera House) and later Chris Cowie (Philharmonia). He graduated with Honours and won a scholarship for further studies winning the 1994 Woodwind Prize and being awarded the Henry Bromley-Derry Prize for all-round musicianship.
John is currently Principal oboist with the Malta Philharmonic and has performed several concertos including the Bach Double Concerto, Mozart Sinfonia Concertante, Albinoni D minor and Vivaldi Double Oboe concerto. He has been guest Principal with The European Union Chamber Orchestra and the Urals State Chamber Orchestra. He reguarly performs chamber music recitals with the Cosmos Wind Ensemble, performing in Canada, Germany, The Netherlands and Australia as well as Malta and Oboe-Harp Duo in Italy with harpist Donata Mattei.
Recent interest in Early Music and study of the baroque oboe with Katharina Spreckelsen and Andreas Helm and also recorder with Rebecca Miles have led him to play baroque oboe with the English Concert under Harry Bickett and to record works by Gabrielli and Monteverdi with the Valletta International Baroque Ensemble (VIBE).
John has recorded music by maltese composers including Sinfonia in Re by Francesco Azopardi (1748-1809) and Chamber music by Joseph Vella( Hagar Qim and Prizma.) In March 2015 he recorded a complete CD of Maltese Music ( Charles Camilleri, Veronique Vella, Albert Garzia and Ruben Zahra)with the Cosmos Wind Ensemble. He has also recorded music by British composers Robin Milford (1903-1959) Suite for oboe and strings and Concertino for oboe and strings by Walter Gaze Cooper (1895-1981) on the Cameo-classics label. www.cameo-classics.com
John has taught oboe at the London College of Music Junior Department and the Johann Strauss School of Music, he is also a wind tutor for the Malta Youth Orchestra. Apart from his work as a performer and instrumental teacher, he has transcribed over 40 works – Warlock Capriol Suite and Mozart Serenade no 10, both for Wind Quintet are published by Cramer Music, London.
Emilia Wisniewska – Violin
Emilia Wisniewska born in Poland who has immersed herself in music from the age of five. She honed her skills at the renevered Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest, Academy of Music in Gdansk and Musikhogskolan in Malmo, where she received numerous accolades including:
First prize at XXXI Bach Violin Competition in Poland , Special Award at the International Violin Competition in Dubai.
She has been guided by some of the most highly regarded pedagogues, including Konstanty Andrzej Kulka (Poland), Endre Wolf (Hungary), Marianne Sirbu (Romania), Anna Mathaus (Germany), Vilmos Szabadi (Hungary), Mathew Trustler (Great Britain), Yair Kless (Israel), Alexander Fisher (Russia St.Petersburg), Jurgis Dvarionas (Lithuania), Nicolas Dautricourt (France).
Emilia has also been bestowed with the honour of joining numerous projects as a member of the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra, Malmö Symfoniorkester and Malmö Opera.
Versatile and dynamic, she relished the opportunity to collaborate with highly acclaimed musicians and conductors, including:
Joshua Bell, Evgeny Kissin, James Ehnes, Leif Segerstam, Krzysztof Penderecki, Dima Slobodeniouk, Lawrence Foster, Daniel Muller Shott, Akiko Suwanai, Mario Venzago, Rolando Villazon and Jonas Kaufmann.
Giuseppe Recchia – Clarinet
Giuseppe Recchia studied in prestigious musical institutions like Academy of Teatro alla Scala, IJOA Academy in Germany.
He has won awards at many important international clarinet competitions and for chamber music.
Principal Clarinet of MPO, he also played with several leading orchestras in Italy and abroad.
His concert activity takes him to perform in several renowned international festivals and in prestigeous concert halls
around the world like Berliner Philharmonie, Teatro alla Scala, Seoul Art center, Cappella Paolina Quirinale, Kunsthalle Wien.
Nadia Debono – Viola
For the past 3 years Nadia Debono has held the post of Principal Viola with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra following 12 years as its co-leader. Nadia has perfomed and travelled with various orchestras including Orchestre Des Jeunes de la Mediterranee, National Youth Orchestra of Ireland, Bacau Philharmonic and Orchestra Internazionale d’Italia.
Furthermore, as a baroque violinist, she is a member of the New Century Baroque (NCB) orchestra and VIBE, the resident ensemble of the Valletta International Baroque Festival.
Nadia is a member of the MPO String Quartet and also Goldberg Ensemble Malta. She has toured as a chamber musician giving performances in England, France, Italy, Scotland, and Tunisia.
Nadia Debono has several recordings in her various capacities to her credit.
Ulrike Buhlmann – Bassoon
Ulrike Buhlmann was born in Potsdam, Germany, started playing the bassoon at 13 and studied at the Musik Hochschule Hanns Eisler under the guidance of Klaus Thunemann. Throughout her studies, Ulrike performed regularly with chamber ensembles and youth orchestras including the Landesjugendorchester Berlin and the Philharmonie der Nationen. Since then, Ulrike has played with numerous German orchestras and has performed as far away as Canada and Mexico.
Sofia Narmania – Pianoforte (appointed accompanist of the Festival)
Pianist Sofia Narmania displayed tremendous interest in music from an early childhood and started giving her first concerts at the age of seven.
At the age of ten she won great public acclaim playing Beethoven’s 2nd Piano Concerto and then she was invited to continue her music education in Moscow Pre-Conservatory college.
Her musical development was shaped by her studies at the Moscow Conservatoire and postgraduate,where she graduated with honors in the class of professor I. Plotnikova.
During her years of education Sofia appeared on the concert stage as a soloist with many orchestras, and gave several recitals in the main halls of Moscow and in other cities of Russian Federation.
As a soloist she performed the concertos of J.S.Bach, W.A.Mozart, L.Beethoven, S.Rachmaninov, P.Tchaikovsky, D.Shostakovich. Sofia has participated in numerous festivals and master classes with various renowned professors.
A winner of international competition in Italy (1st prize), she has performed in Greece, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Holland, Russia and Malta. Her extensive repertoire covers all musical periods and styles, she performs works by Scarlatti and Bach, Liszt and Rachmaninov, Ginastera and Piazolla.
In March 2014, she made a recording of works by modern Italian composer Federico Gozzelino.
Maria Frendo – Soprano
Maria Frendo is a well-known personality in music circles. She has performed extensively, both as a pianist and as a soprano, in her native Malta and in major venues in Europe and New York. She has recorded more than 13 CDs and is a respected exponent of Maltese Baroque Music, which she has performed to critical acclaim. She is also one of the major interpreters of contemporary music in Malta and has premiered works by Joseph Vella, amongst others. Maria is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Malta, leader of the Laudate Pueri Choir, and is co-organiser of Malta’s longest Festival of chamber music, the Victoria International Arts Festival.
Kevin Abela – Principal Trumpet of MPO
Kevin Abela (Principal Trumpet – Malta Philharmonic Orchestra); has worked as a musical director and arranger on some of Malta’s most popular music events such as Joseph Calleja summer concerts in Malta, Masquerade Theatre Company’s productions for nine consecutive years as well as Voices; for its final two concerts. His personal achievements have been directing the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra for six editions of the Movie Spectacular and working with world known artists such as Joseph Calleja, Zucchero, Anastacia, Leona Lewis, Ronan Keating, Gigi D’Alessio, Rebecca Ferguson, Antonello, Suzanne Vega and Malta’s own Red Electrick.
Charlene Farrugia – Pianoforte
Charlene Farrugia is recognized as one of Malta’s most versatile and engaging pianist. At the age of 13, Charlene was the youngest soloist to ever perform with the National Orchestra of Malta. Since then, she has been a regular soloist with this Orchestra, recently touring China as soloist with the orchestra. Her debut CD, recorded for NAXOS was released in 2015. Charlene is the first prize winner of 10 international piano competitions, and is regularly invited to appear as soloist with orchestras in Europe, USA and Russia. After finishing her musical education in Malta with Ms Amodio Chircop, Charlene continued her studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London, graduating with an MA in Piano Performance. She also holds a Doctorate in Piano Performance from the class of Kenneth Hamilton. Charlene is an international ambassador for EMMA for Peace under the patronage of UNESCO.
Daniel Cauchi – Percussion
A full time percussionist and singer, Daniel Cauchi holds the post of principal percussion with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and is a visiting lecturer at the University of Malta. He graduated from the University of Malta with a B.A. (Hons) in music composition and furthered his studies in percussion at the music conservatory of Latina, Italy, with Mro. Rodolfo Rossi. He also attended several master classes and workshops, both in percussion and vocal training with various international artists. In 2008 Daniel Cauchi formed the ”Sarsaza Percussion Ensemble”, a collaborative initiative that brings together artists from percussion practice, musical composition, and performance.
Daniel Cauchi is the founder, leader and singer of Big Band Brothers and drummer of the Nafra folk ensemble. He produced and directed various concerts namely the three editions of “Ftakar” part of the Malta Arts Festival, Kelma Kelma Nota Nota, ”Il percussionista da guardare” at the Manoel Theatre, three editions of “A One Night Stand with the BBB”, “MYO Swings” and “From the Big Band Brothers to Val Valente” concerts amongst others. Daniel performed also in the “National Orchestra Goes Pop” concerts, all editions of “Rockestra” and was the main singer of the “Manoel Theatre Swings with Go”, “Hilton Swings” and “Maltese Swingers” concerts. Daniel Cauchi has been invited to perform in China, Hong Kong, India, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Germany, England, France, Turkey and Tunisia.