The Maltese band clubs have their roots in the middle ages tradition of playing music during feasts and processions. We know that in the sixteenth century a band consisting of drums and flutes accompanied the procession.
During the 19th century under the influence of military bands and Italian refugees escaping from the civil war in Italy wind instruments became popular. Small bands were formed by individuals, in some parishes where there were not enough persons who could afford to buy instruments, the community with the help of some merchants intervened to help those who were ready to learn playing an instrument. In this way the first band clubs were formed in the late forties of the nineteenth century. Their main purpose was to take part in the village festas.
In 1947 the number of band clubs in Malta was about 60, There was a band club in every parish and in many cases there were more than one. During this year as a committee member of the Saint Joseph band club of Ħamrun, Chev M.A. Delia proposed that his club invites representatives from all band clubs with the intention of forming an association. The idea was received with great enthusiasm and nearly all the clubs joined the newly formed association. Malta was still a colony in 1947 and as was the practice the name given was in English ‘ Malta Band Clubs Association’. In 1975 the name was changed to ‘GĦaqda Każini tal-Banda’.
The first activities of this society were to make representation with the government to alleviate the impositions the government itself had on these band clubs. All clubs enjoyed from the benefits of these achievements.
The association was accepted by the government and other important institutions to represent the band clubs and was entrusted to organize the distribution of services amongst the clubs.
In 1950 the association organized a National Band and up to 1975 organized an annual concert. In 1978 a band from those affiliated was chosen to organize this annual concert.
Since 1982 during November the Association celebrates the feast of Saint Cecily, the patron saint of musicians. After the Mass celebrated in Saint John’s Cathedral one of the club-members plays marches in Valletta accompanied by a number of banners from the other clubs.
Teaching of music is important to have more musicians. In 1957 this association organized a competition between clubs to encourage them to make greater effort in the teaching of music.
In 1994 a competition to choose The Bandsman of the Year was organized, and repeated for three consecutive years. Amongst the Judges the British composer Joseph Horovitz and Lt. Colonel Stuart Watts from Kneller Hall in Twickenham gave their services.
To day this association represents 95% of band clubs in Malta and enjoys the esteem of the government and other institutions.
GĦAQDA KAŻINI TAL-BANDA
64, TRIQ Ġ.M.CAMILLERI,