The St Paul Choral Society Newsletter
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The St Paul Choral Society Newsletter

July 2017


Much like scent, after all, music has the power to conjure up long-forgotten details from days gone by (Bridget Gleeson).  How true. I was intrigued by the paintings of Squeak Carnwath, a contemporary American painter and arts educator. (The name Squeak was a childhood name that stuck). In her “song” series, she uses the evocative power of music to express nostalgia for the past. Her collage-like paintings A Little Sad and Nearly Perfect feature titles of popular love songs crowded on to the canvas.  We all have our own personal ‘canvas’ conjured up when we hear music prompting a poignant and deeply personal deep dive into our own particular history, romantic or otherwise. The powerful beauty of music….

The SPCS is delving into its past repertoire as well as preparing new material primarily with the forthcoming Spain Tour in mind although there are other many other choral events on schedule. Read below an interesting article by Stephen Mangion about the Camino to Santiago de Compostela, which route the choir will be following for its singing events – an apt overture to our choral tour.  Also interesting is the uplifting article on Oliver Mangion, the son of the tenor, Ray Mangion, who, in spite of his disabilities, has now been included in the Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby team which has its sights set on the European Games and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  Courage and determination personified…. 
I hope you all have the opportunity to have a (cool) break in the long hot summer months ahead

Anna Stivala
(Below Left:  A Little Sad; Right:  Nearly Perfect)

Camino Frances Route / San Martin Pinario / Burgos Cathedral
Camino de Santiago Route Map


Recruitment notice
Forthcoming Events
Stephen Mangion - The St Paul Choral Society on the Camino to Santiago de Compostela
Tomás Luis de Victoria – Spanish Composer
Oliver Mangion
Birthday Greetings
Choir Recruitment

Do you enjoy singing?  If so, why not join our choir?  You don’t have to have a soloist’s voice to be able to sing in a choir.  All you need is an average voice, a good ear for music, and the willingness to sing.  If you can read music, it helps, but it isn’t essential.  We provide members with practice materials for all our repertoire.
Our choir is now in its twentieth year.  During 2016 we presented 12 musical events.  Our repertoire spans five centuries; we choose music that is a pleasure for us to sing and for our audiences to hear.  

We presently have space for Basses, Tenors and high Sopranos. 
If you’re aged between 13 and 65, love good music, and can dedicate two hours every Wednesday evening for our rehearsal together, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our choir director, Hugo Agius Muscat, by calling or messaging on mobile number 79705692 or sending an email to



1 July, 8.00pm - Annual summer party at Moira and Maurice Tabone's house at Siggiewi
15 July 5.30pm - Singing at a wedding at St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral
26 July (during rehearsal) -  Slide lecture on the Camino by Stephen Mangion    
2 – 9 September - Spain Tour
4 September, 8.00pm - Concert in Burgos Cathedral, Spain
5 September, evening - Performance in Léon, Spain
7 September, 8.30pm - Concert at San Martin Pinario, Santiago De Compostela
8 September, 7.30pm - Singing during Misa de
los Peregrinos at Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Spain
23 September, evening - Investiture Ceremony, Order of the Holy Sepulchre at St John’s Co-Cathedral
4 November - Singing at a wedding at Siggiewi Parish Church
9 December, 4.00pm - Singing at a wedding, St
Aloysus Church, B’Kara
15 December, 7.15pm - Christmas Concert at St Dominic’s Church, Rabat
17 December, 6.30pm - Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral, Valletta
18 December, 6.30pm - Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at Holy Trinity Church, Sliema

Stephen Mangion
The St Paul Choral Society on the Camino To Santiago de Compostela

(N.B.  A slide lecture on the Camino will be given by Stephen Mangion on 26th July following a shortened rehearsal at the Divine Mercy Sanctuary, Naxxar)
The choir will be flying to Madrid on the evening of 2nd September and the next day it will start a one-week tour.  This will follow the route of the Camino Frances, the best known of the various routes, all of which have as their destination the city of Santiago in Galicia in the North West of Spain. The Camino is a pilgrimage to this city where the remains of St James (Santiago) the apostle are reputedly buried.  The legend started in the ninth century with the vision of a shepherd named Pelayo who was drawn to a field in Libredon (present day Santiago) by bright lights or stars shining over it which indicated the presence of the apostle's burial place. From this, the name Compostela may have derived (field - campus; stars - stellae).  The site became a place of pilgrimage and this grew until it came to rival the two other great pilgrimages - to Rome and Jerusalem.  Pilgrims came from all over continental Europe and the British Isles in large numbers.  Although the numbers waned over the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the middle of the last century saw a resurgence of interest in it. In fact, the Camino has been growing in popularity and the number of pilgrims has soared to over 100,000 each year and almost double that in a Holy Year.
The Camino Frances starts in the South West of France at the small village of San Jean Pied de Port in the foothills of the Pyrenees.  The route then crosses the mountains to Roncesvalles in Spain and then on through Pamplona and Logroño to Burgos.  From Burgos to Leon it passes through the meseta, a high plateau which stretches for some 200km.  It then crosses the Montes de Leon passing the famous Cruz de Ferro at the summit and descends to the town of Ponferrada with its stereotypical Templar's castle.  The Bierzo valley follows and once again there is a stiff climb up the Cordillera Cantabrica with the unforgettable village of O'Cebriero at its summit and the entry point into Galicia.  From there, it is a relatively easy final home run over the last 150 km to Santiago.  The whole route from St Jean to Santiago is just over 800km long.
When we leave Madrid we shall be visiting the city of Segovia before heading to Burgos where we shall be joining the route of the Camino.  We shall be singing in the magnificent Gothic cathedral of Burgos before crossing the meseta to Leon where, again, we shall be singing in the equally impressive cathedral with its beautiful stained glass windows.  We shall then drive up through the Bierzo valley, stopping along the way at Ponferrada and O'Cebreiro before reaching Santiago.  We have two events scheduled for this wonderful city: the first will be a concert at the monastery of San Martin Pinario and the second will be the highlight of the tour when we will be singing at the Misa de los Peregrinos (Pilgrims' Mass) at Santiago cathedral itself.los Peregrinos (Pilgims' Mass) at Santiago cathedral itself.
Tomás Luis de Victoria
Tomás Luis de Victoria – Spanish Composer
(born Avila, 1548; died Madrid, 1611)

The choir’s repertoire includes one of this renowned composer’s well-known pieces - O quam gloriosum -  which was composed for the feast of All Saints, Second Vespers and sung as an antiphon to the Magnificat (Revelation 7:9)
Victoria was a choirboy at Avila Cathedral; when his voice broke he was sent to the Jesuit Collegio Germanico, Rome where he may have studied under Palestrina.  He was a singer and organist at S. Maria di Monserrato and he was later maestro at the Collegio Germanico.  He became a priest and joined the Oratory of S. Filippo Neri. He returned to Spain as chaplain to Philip II’s sister the Dowager Empress Maria, at the Descalas Reales convent, Madrid where he remained as organist after her death, until his death apart from a visit to Rome when he attended Palestrina’s funeral.
The greatest Spanish Renaissance composer, and among the greatest in Europe in his day, he wrote exclusively Latin sacred music.  Most was printed in his lifetime; in 1600 a sumptuous collection of 32 of his most popular masses, Magnificats, psalms and motets appeared in Madrid.  Though his output ranged widely through the liturgy, he is chiefly remembered for his masses and motets, which include well-known pieces (Missa Ave regina caelorum, Missa pro Victoria, O magnum mysterium, O quam gloriosum, O vos omnes).  Like Palestrina, he wrote in a serious, devotional style, often responding emotionally to the texts with dramatic word-painting*.  Some of his more poignant pieces are characterized by a religious, almost mystical fervour.
  • *Word painting (also known as tone painting or text painting) is the musical technique of writing music that reflects the literal meaning of a song. For example, ascending scales would accompany lyrics about going up; slow, dark music would accompany lyrics about death.
    From The Grove Concise Dictionary of Music
Oliver Mangion

Oliver Mangion is Alison and Ray Mangion`s only son. He was born in Malta in 1995 with severe deformities on all four limbs. Initially, his parents thought that their son was going spend his life in a wheelchair but Oliver had other ideas. After 54 operations, some life threatening, Oliver is now a double amputee from below the knees and has become a very active and determined man of 21. While in Malta Oliver raised funds for others in need by swimming and blade- running. Due to physical problems, he had to give up the two sport disciplines, but took up wheelchair rugby. Oliver is a second-year student at Kent University reading Anthropology. He has recently been chosen to be the youngest promising  Great Britain Paralympics Wheelchair Rugby player (

His next major is the European Games, followed by the Tokyo Olympics. He is now a full-time wheelchair rugby player and Kent University has offered him an eight-year sabbatical to concentrate on his sport.
They are very honoured to have one of their students to represent the UK in the Paralympics for Tokyo. Oliver is a great example to us all that no matter what one's difficulties in life, one can achieve any goal.  In fact, he has just won a Gold Medal.  After a week of competition in the European Wheelchair Rugby Championship in Germany, the UK Wheelchair Rugby team where Oliver is a new
recruit, won the final against Sweden. The scene of receiving his 1st Gold Medal was very moving. With great pride he received his medal and held the Trophy. In less than one year Ollie has won a place at the top, being in the GBWR Squad; an honour he will cherish for a long time.

Read more here.

Oliver playing Wheelchair Rugby and holding up the Trophy
The Choir Annual Summer Party
As in previous years, the choir summer party was held on 1st July, again, very kindly hosted by Moira and Maurice Tabone at their lovely relaxing home at Hax-Xluq, Siggiewi.  As she always does, Esme Channer so ably organised the meal with the help of her team of cooks (mainly lady choristers...).  Below are pictures of some items of the mouth-watering menu and some of those responsible for preparing it.  It was an occasion not to be missed!

Birthday Wishes


July-September Birthdays

Daniela Briffa - 1 July                     
Anne Marie Agius - 2 July
Marcella Chetcuti - 7 July
Dorothee Zuijdgest - 10 July
Joseph Galea - 11 July
Janet Schembri - 16 July
Cecilia Agius Muscat - 20 July
Aileen Grech - 21 July
Nicolette Miller - 6 August
Juanita Bencini - 17 August
Elisabeth Conrad - 18 August
Lyndy Attard - 23 September

To all new choristers: kindly send your birthday date (no year required) to Anna Stivala at

SPCS Committee 2017-2019

Chairman: Maurice Tabone
Music Director: Hugo Agius Muscat
Secretary: Cecilia Agius Muscat 
Treasurer: Stephen Mangion
Members: Anne Marie Agius (Soprano Section), Amanda Kaye (Soprano Section), Joseph Farrugia (Tenor Section Leader), Josette Farrugia (Alto Section Leader), Anna Stivala (Soprano Section Leader)

For more information about the choir please go to and

If you are interested in joining the choir please write to
Copyright © 2017 SPCS, All rights reserved.

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