Students from the Malta School of Music have just returned back from a four-day trip to Spain as part of their Erasmus + Project. This project called ‘Unpacking Feelings’ brings together schools from Spain, Cyprus, Wales and Malta, focussing on the students’ well-being and giving them an opportunity to express their feelings as impacted by COVID pandemic through the creative arts.
Bradley Farrugia (guitar), Helena Gierasimiuk (piano), Jake-Paul Mallia (drums) and Emila Zrinzo Azzopardi (saxophone), all aged between 14 and 16 years, were accompanied by Ms Maria Blanco, Head of School of Music and two music teachers Ms Yorika Attard and Mr Mauro Farrugia. They participated in a number of music, comic and theatre workshops organised by one of the oldest and most established Spanish High Schools in Spain, the IES Ribalta in Castellon. Ms Maria Blanco said “it was a great pleasure seeing the students interact and work with the other international students. It was also wonderful getting to know and understand the school’s educational system and learn about the music and dance specialised schools in Castellon, Spain.”
During the workshops, the four students had the opportunity to work and collaborate with other students from the participating countries, and presented the creative products on the last day of workshops, including a song which they co-composed called ‘Kalispera’. Bradley Farrugia said, “The music workshop was one of the highlights of the trip for me as a musician, where we composed, rehearsed and recorded our own song in the limited time we had which was a very challenging but rewarding experience”.
Mr Mauro Farrugia said “It was a privilege having had the chance to experience the various artforms at work during the workshops with all the parties involved. The workshops also gave us the opportunity to channel our music expertise through the sharing of the compositional process with all the other participants – where everyone contributed to the different aspects of the final recorded project – lyrics, structure, harmonic and melodic content.”
The School of Music students also had an opportunity to visit the internationally renowned Berklee College of Music in Valencia. The Maltese students experienced the recording studios, teaching rooms, ensemble rooms and extensive library, which inspired them and showed them the possible academic opportunities which they could pursue in the future. Ms Yorika Attard said “It was a great pleasure to expose our students to this internationally-acclaimed contemporary music college, and to show them how their studies at the Malta School of Music could lead them to further music studies. I, myself attended Berklee College of Music when I was younger and I wanted our students to get a taste of my wonderful experience at this inspiring college.”
This Erasmus exchange in Castellón, Spain also exposed the students to another country and its culture, as student Helena Gierasimiuk adds, “I explored Spain in many ways: cultural, language, cuisine and met many – both international and local students”. Through the workshops and cultural visits, the students enjoyed getting to know the other students and building connections. Jake-Paul Mallia said, “The trip brought me closer with friends from Malta and helped me make some great friends from other countries.” Emilia Zrinzo Azzopardi summarised “our visit to Castellon was a positive experience, where I met many students from different countries, enjoyed composing and paying music and also learnt about different cultures”.
Ms Blanco concluded that “this exchange project was a great success for our staff and students who participated in it and will definitely remain etched in all our memories. Not only did it offer an opportunity to enjoy and grow from all the benefits associated with these Erasmus projects, but it also opened new musical and professional horizons for our students. And now we look forward to welcoming and hosting the 60-strong delegation from Spain, Cyprus and Wales coming to Malta in November.”
The accompanying music video, put together by SoM students Jake-Paul Mallia and Emilia Zrinzo Azzopardi, features the original song ‘Kalispera’ composed during the Erasmus workshops, with pictures documenting their experience during the trip to Spain.
A selection of individual photos may also be downloaded from here