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St. Philip Band Club - History


St. Philip Band

St. Philip Band traces its origins to over a century and a half ago when talented young Mro. Filippo Galea organised a formal band and gave it the name of Banda di San Filippo as borne out by documentation in the archives of the Zebbug Parish Church. Since then it has continuously participated in the feast of St. Philip and various other secondary feasts in Zebbug as well as in many other localities. Almost from the start it was organised under a committee with a formal statute.

• Throughout its existence St. Philip Band has had a very central role in the social and cultural life of Zebbug. During the first century of its life St. Philip Band was one of the few bands giving concerts and playing band marches in most of the feasts around Malta. At one time this went up to as many as eighty musical services in a one-year period. This intense activity gradually wound down as many other bands were set up or matured in almost every village and town.

In 1944, St. Philip Band was chosen to represent all the band clubs of Malta and Gozo in performing a musical programme to mark the occasion of the donation of a Sword of Honour to Lord Gort, then Governor of Malta. It was presented by Rev. Loreto Callus, president of St. Philip Band Club, on behalf of the other clubs in the presence of the highest civil and ecclesiastical authorities of the time.

The imposing façade of the club is adorned with several commemorative plaques commemorating prominent Zebbug personalities of national fame or testify to several memorable events such as that of 1944 and the twinning of Zebbug and Agira in 1997.

So far the club has had 20 Presidents and 19 Musical Directors. The current President is Dr. John Attard Montalto B.A. (Hons.), LL.D., MEP, a member of the European Parliament and an ex-Minister of the Malta Government. The present musical director is Mro. Richard Bugeja FLCM.

What started off as a musical band has grown into a large club with many and varied interests and activities, with St. Philip Band being at the core. This entails good organisation and a lot of hard work which is carried out voluntarily without any remuneration. Indeed the people directly involved are the first to contribute financially to the club’s needs. At present the club is managed by an Executive Committee with the support of the Women’s Section, the Youth Section and several sub-committees for the Band, the Feast and Social & Cultural Organising Committees.

The running of a school of music for all ages has been and still is a primary activity and tuition is given free of charge every week. Students are even lent a musical instrument by the club which they can keep for as long as they need. Nowadays some twenty musical services are performed in public every year, varying from full blown concerts to street band marches.

Club members are active all the year round. Participation in the feast of St. Philip in Zebbug is naturally the main focal point. This includes the band, fireworks, street decorations and social activities for all the club members.

The club manages a fireworks factory that manufactures a variety of sky rockets and Catherine wheels which are all fired during the second week of June on occasion of the feast of the patron saint of Zebbug. The members manufacturing these fireworks are all volunteers who work all year without any remuneration. The club however provides them with the raw materials at its expense. This activity involves some twenty people organised and functioning as a closely-knit team.

Another highly popular activity is an annual Good Friday Exhibition held inside the club premises during the ten days prior to Easter. In separate halls are exhibited: The Last Supper and The Crucifixion scenes presented with artistic life-size statues, the work of well known artist Alfred Camilleri Cauchi. In a third hall, a set of miniature statues represent the Via Crucis. A fourth section will be opening this year: the Burial of Jesus, set in an underground war shelter.

In December 2004, a Christmas exhibition was put up comprising some 200 exhibits belonging to forty different exhibitors hailing from most villages of Malta. Many small cribs and many more statues of baby Jesus made from different materials were on show.

Various social activities are organised regularly such as outings, dinners, coffee-mornings, parties, dinner-dances and travel tours abroad for members their families and friends.

Every year the club publishes two booklets: one on the occasion of the Good Friday Exhibition and the second prior to the Feast of St. Philip plus an annual calendar. In 2001 the club published a 275-page well-researched book (in Maltese) which documents the history of the band and the club. It can be obtained from the club in paperback or hardcover form.

On top of all this, there is the day-to-day running of a social club and bar which opens daily for its approximately 1000 members and their friends.

Philip Balzan B.Sc.(Hons.), PGCE
Vici-Segretaru u PRO
14 ta’ Novembru 2004

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