To answer some important questions first:
- No, I didn’t eat a rabbit burger, I was too busy eating delicious Maltese/Italian pizza before living mostly off rice and fish for the next months.
- Yes, there are many stray cats on Malta, very skilled at relaxing and getting food of tourists (especially Fi).
- Yes, Malta is very busy and the buses are often overcrowded.
- Yes, in the times of the looming gloomy Brexit it was nice to see so many EU flags everywhere. (Malta, the smallest EU member state, just finished its EU presidency at the end of June.)
- Yes, the view from the hotel room was spectacular.
The weather was also very nice, just the right temperature to prepare for hot and humid Japan.
The venue for our concert was the Pjazza Teatru Rjal. It was built in the same location, where previously the Royal Opera House stood, which was destroyed in World War 2. It is now a beautiful open air venue. It seems the sunny and dry weather was no exception – there was no roof covering the stage or electrics.
Stella’s new fisheye lens and selfie stick proved making her favourite hobby (taking selfies) much easier. The two new faces are Fi and Marie-Elaine, who played their first show with Mugenkyo.
Malta offered us a rare treat: we had an afternoon & evening for setting up and preparing sound and lighting on the day before the concert. The usual tight schedule on tour at other performances unfortunately does not allow for this. Despite being an open air venue, the sound was amazing – a combination of the theatre’s natural acoustics, the excellent professional staff and a first rate PA system. Playing in this environment felt very special – while clearly being outdoors, being surrounded by the old columns and the panels above the stage produced a very sheltered feeling.
The generous schedule also meant that on Monday, the performance day, we could not only run the whole show in the afternoon but even had a few minutes to take some all important PR shots, making use of available local signage.
We played a full Mugenkyo Concert show, opening with a new arrangement of Blessing for which I used shinobue instead of shakuhachi for the first time. While more limited in its expressive range, it also proves an interesting combination with taiko and percussion for a soundscape – offering possibilities different from the shakuhachi.
It was also the first time we had a drone recording the concert. (There are many more great pictures on the festival’s official Facebook page.)