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Two men, two cellos, one heart

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One thing that personally struck me as I sat in the Royal Opera House in Valletta was the passion that Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser put into their performance. You could see the love towards what they do in the way they got lost in the music they were playing, from different genres and artists including Coldplay, ACDC, The Rolling Stones and Michael Jackson amongst many others.

2Cellos is made up of two Croatian musicians, Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, and together they raised the bars of cello playing. Their fame all started in 2011 when they uploaded their rendition of the king of pop, Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal to Youtube. This same cover landed them a record deal with Sony Masterworks and was featured in Fox’s TV series Glee, with Naya Rivera and Grant Gustin accompanying them. They have produced two music albums, one in 2011 called 2Cellos and another one in 2013 called In2ition. The first album got them as far as winning the Best International Album award, while their second album got nominated for the same award but did not manage to hit the heights of winning like the first one had.

Although achieving such great fame, Sulic and Hauser still remain down to earth, friendly and funny, going as far as staying at the theatre after their performance to meet everyone present in the audience. Their performance constantly involved the audience with many leaving their seats and moving closer to the stage dancing, jumping and singing. One thing I know for sure is that I will definitely go and watch them play again.

Posted in Culture, Music

Gozitan post-rock band to release second single

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Gozitan post-rock act ‘They Come in Twos’ will officially release their second single, titled “Through the Trenches (Into the Light)” on the 22nd of July. In a press release, they describe the song as one that makes use of strong dynamics, heavy guitars and drums while delving further into the experimental side through the utilization of various strings and electronica.

They describe the song’s concept as being about the ‘personal battle to confront the toughest of obstacles in order to achieve the ultimate goal, whatever it may be, and no matter how dirty one’s hands get in the process.’

‘They Come in Twos’ is made up of songwriters Christian Farrugia, formerly of Saving Alexis, and Paul Formosa, both hailing from Xaghra, Gozo. Currently a studio-only act, the band is planning to issue further releases throughout the second half of 2014.

“Through the Trenches (Into the Light)” was recorded at 3some Studios, Msida, produced by Kenny D’Ugo and Dave Calleja and mixed and mastered by Kenny D’Ugo.

The debut single of ‘They Come in Twos’- “Static Made This Way”

Posted in Culture, Music

Junior Eurovision Song Contest – Call for Volunteers

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As a result of Gaia Cauchi (S.G.)’s victory last year with her song ‘The Start’, Malta will be hosting the Junior Eurovision Song Contest for the first time on the 15th of November at Malta Shipbuilding in Marsa.

To ensure that this popular event is a success, the Public Broadcasting Authority (PBS) has released a call for volunteers to help in certain activities, such as delegating hosts and front office service. There are even open positions for volunteers willing to help in photo and video editing, among others.

This could be a wonderful opportunity for students currently reading for a degree in communication or tourism studies…or for students who are just fans of the show!

 

Check out the image below for more details about the posts available and details on how to apply:

 

                                                                                                          jesc

 

 

Posted in Culture, Music

Paper to Screen and Everything in Between

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MCAST’s Institute of Art and Design was founded in 2001 and last night saw the highly anticipated opening of its thirteenth edition of the End of Year Exhibition, titled ‘Print to Screen: And Everything in Between’. Mr. Stephen Vella, Director of the Institute, stated that this title was apt in today’s world where technology is constantly advancing at an incredible level. Therefore, one must always be aware of these changes and keep up with them to succeed.

The exhibition also serves as a showcase for students’ work which was produced during the past academic year in the hope of attracting companies, collaborators and even prospective students towards the institute. Students also learn the tools necessary when setting up an exhibition. I spoke with Maria Borg, a student of Fine Arts who was very involved in not only the setting up of the exhibition but also in the curating and marketing of it. She felt that the exhibition gave her ‘the motivation to create things out of school’.

There is a wide range of exhibits from various Diploma and Degree students on display, including 3D Design, Fine Arts, Interactive Media, Media Moving Image, Graphic Design and Photography. Further, visitors interested in filming may even be given a tour around the studios, and shown the high-end equipment available to the students.

It would be impossible to mention every single amazing exhibit, so I highly encourage you to free up some time and go to Targa Gap and see the talent we have on our island. The exhibit will be open until the 8th of July at 6pm.

Posted in Art, Culture

The best of Malta Design Week 2014

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On a warm sunny midweek morning, I decided to take a well-deserved study break to see what local and international artists have in store for the Maltese public during this year’s Design Week. Emphasizing on the theme of a micronation, St. Elmo has been turned into an overwhelming hub of creativity with roomfuls of projects, demonstrations, and finished works. Ranging from fashion, interior design and technology-driven exhibitions, to photography, traditional art, and visual installations, this year’s event is definitely a spectacle to be reckoned with.

It was especially exciting to see so many Maltese artists and creators show what they have come up with, many of them after having spent years of studying and gaining experience abroad. My expectations were also conquered by the works of supposed newcomers from MCAST and UoM, whose exhibitions were probably some of my favourites from the whole event.

Since it is difficult to talk about every single thing at Design Week, and also so as not to spoil your experience if you’re still planning on visiting this weekend, here are the 5 exhibits which interested me the most, and why I think that everyone should give them a peek:

 

‘Selekted Malta’ by Duška Malešević

An international photographer’s view of the hustle and bustle of the Maltese Islands provided for my overall favourite exhibit at St. Elmo. For the past 10 years, Malešević has been capturing postcard style snapshots of anything that has caught her eye in our streets, alleyways and squares, and which any avid Instagram user would melt over. Finding them both humorous and insightful, I am not ashamed to say that I couldn’t resist examining every single photo on show.

‘Art and Design’ by MCAST students

Competing with Design Week’s professionals are the stunningly unique works of Maltese students undergoing the range of courses offered by MCAST, particularly those in architecture, interior design, and computer animation. From practical modern furniture designs to abstract metalworks that leave viewers guessing, it is truly positive to see our younger generation engaging itself into putting Malta on the global map of design.

‘Almost Transparent Blue’ by students from University of Belgrade

One of the simplest and yet most awe-inducing exhibits this year comes from a talented group of Serbian architecture students, who are clearly inspired by nature and who give great attention to detail. Most likely unlike anything you’ve seen before, the research and hard work that these students have put into their illustrated works is a breath of fresh air.

‘Miniatures’ by Vitra

This Swiss company brought over to Design Week an exhibition about the history and development of the most underrated yet indispensable piece of furniture; the chair. You might be extremely wrong if you think this would be something boring, because I was never so fascinated by how much has changed in seating design over the centuries. Everything is in cute miniature form too. Need I say more?

‘Defying Complacency’ by UoM students

If photography is one of your passions, then you will undoubtedly enjoy what these soon-to-be graduates in design studies have to offer. They manage to bring to life Maltese and Gozitan landscapes in a hugely refreshing way, including abandoned and ruined sites which you would never expect to translate into beautiful photographs.

 

Spending a couple of hours immersed into, quite literally as the theme promotes, a ‘micronation’ of countless elements of Maltese culture turned contemporary I was, being an artist myself, definitely inspired by some of the participating geniuses. What I would strongly suggest is to visit during the evening or nighttime, in order to appreciate the whole atmosphere of Design Week, especially since some of the exhibits depend on light and illumination to be fully appreciated.

Furthermore, very interesting panels are being held from 8pm onwards, including upcoming talks by furniture designer Gordon Guillaumier on Friday, and London-based fashion photographer Matthew Attard Navarro on Saturday.

Be sure to visit the Maltese Design Week at Fort St. Elmo, Valletta until the 24th May between 10am and 10pm. You can visit their official website at maltadesignweek.com for more information.

 

Posted in Culture

Army Surplus – A review of 300: Rise of an Empire

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I didn’t like the first 300. It was a dull, headache-inducing and seemed to have been written by a 14 year old boy. Nevertheless it was a monster hit, and with its mix of history with stylized violence and sex was hugely influential. It’s a surprise then that the sequel has taken such a long time coming.

Well, I say sequel, though it’s more of a story happening parallel to the events in 300. It follows Greek general Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) who leads a war against the Persians, led by Artemisia ( Eva Green), a bloodthirsty warrior of the giant god-king Xerxes. The premise of looking at the other side of the war in 300, instead of just doing a prequel or sequel, is an interesting choice. Of course, following the Spartans after 300’s ending would make an Olympic event of logical gymnastics. I went in to the movie not expecting much, but hoping it would be stupid dumb fun. A guilty pleasure.

How wrong I was. It’s astoundingly boring. Lena Headey, returning as Queen of Sparta, starts the film with so much voice-over exposition that it’s as though the Star Wars opening scroll has been left running until it reaches the edge of the universe. It is supposed to enlighten us as to how Xerxes went from ordinary man to the giant deity he is, but this possibly interesting back story is explained away by Xerxes submerging himself in a magic pool and emerging fully transformed. How did he change? What was that pond of screenwriting convenience?  Why is dressed like a Brazilian Mardi Gras dancer? These are questions that I would be wondering if I cared at all.

Themistocles is a character without a glimmer of personality other than ‘tough’. At least Gerard Butler, the original’s protagonist, had a tongue in cheek wit, and lines so memorable that people now wear them on T shirts. Here, Stapleton’s Themistocles has dense dialogue, without any irony or humour, and every line is delivered with either a frown or a shout.

The idea of a female antagonist is an interesting one, especially since the first film was one of cinema’s biggest sausage-fests, yet Eva Green is far too femme-fatale elegant to convince as a brutal war lord. In fact, rather than gender balance, I suspect the only reason a female villain was included was to shoe-horn some boobs in.

The heavy use of computer graphics and slow motion gives the fighting a video-game look, which becomes very tiring, sort of like watching someone play PlayStation. The action in this film is on a much larger scale than it is in 300, yet is actually less exciting. While Zack Snyder, the original’s director, clearly has an eye for cool visuals, director Noam Murro thinks it’s all about quantity. So we get huge amounts of battle ships, thousands and thousands of soldiers, massive explosions. But the more we get the more we take it all for granted. And since it’s all clearly been programmed by men sitting at computers there’s no real sense of awe.

While the original had flaws, it was bold. It created something new, a film that looked like nothing we’ve seen before, and led to a barrage of copy-cats. This film is feels like yet another imitator. It doesn’t attempt anything new, just more of the same. It may have abs, but it doesn’t have balls.

 

Posted in Cinema, Opinion