1928 - 1930
Mro. Anton Muscat Azzopardi
1930 - 1946
Mro. Mikiel Farrugia
1946 - 1966 Mro.
1966 - 1992
Mro. Joseph Farrugia
1992 - 2002
Mro. Joseph N. Sammut
Mro. Sunny Galea
1928 - 1933 Mons.
Ġużeppi De Piro
1934 - 1968 Mons.
Ġużeppi Galea Rapa
1968 - 1973
1973 - 1988
Amabile Cauchi M.P.
1988 - 1991 Joe Xuereb
1991 - 2002
2002 - 2003 Paul
2004 - 2005
2005 - 2006
1928 - 1934 Fr.
1934 - 1966
Fr. Gwann Galea
1968 - 1972
1972 - 1973
1973 - 1974
1975 - 1978
1978 - 1982
1982 - 1982
1983 - 1997
1998 - 2002
2003 - 2003
2004 - 2005
to view a list of all the bandsmen from 1928 till today
Beginning and Early Years
St. Joseph’s Institute for
orphans opened its doors in Ghajnsielem on the 21st May 1925.
It was a red-letter day for the village because one of its major
institutions saw its beginning then. Above all it was a notable date
because about three years later, under the Institute’s aegis saw the
birth of the village’s own musical society: the St. Joseph Band Club.
The founder was Monsignor
Guzeppi De Piro, a figure, now as then, of national importance. At
that time he had already become justly famous for his work among boy
orphans and he bad been asked by the Gozitan See to extend his
activities to the Sister Island. After overcoming many difficulties
he has seen this dream come true on the 21st May 1925. From the
beginning he put himself to work with characteristic vigour and he
exploited all his organisational talent to found and maintain the
first orphanage of the Sister Island. About three years later in 1928, at an unspecified date he was seen
arriving from Malta with a big parcel in his hands. This parcel
contained the first musical instruments, which were going to be used
by the yet unborn St. Joseph Band.
Buhagar, Fr. Karm Azzopardi and Mro. Mikiel Farruigia together with
the first band of St. Joseph
As expected the founding of a new Musical Society created several
problems. Mons. De Piro tackled this task with characteristic
courage and energy. He engaged Mro. Anton Muscat Azzopardi who died
as recently as 1982 to undertake the training of the band’s first
students. Among the first students one finds Mikiel Ciangura from
Ghajnsielem, Pinu Gatt from Sannat and Kristinu Gatt from Nadur.
These were all young boys residing at the Orphanage during that
Fr. Luzar Buhagar was in charge of the
day-to-day running and administration of the institute and is widely
regarded as the first first secretary and treasurer of the band.
At first the new Band’s training encountered several obstacles, not
the least of which was Mro. Muscat Azzopardi’s other
responsibilities with other Bands in Malta and he found it difficult
to cross over to Gozo regularly. He was the first to realise that
the society needed new blood to help it survive, let alone flourish
and he recommended Mro. Mikiel Farrugia from Victoria, Gozo to
replace him in 1930. Farrugia was a timely choice: as he was a
Gozitan he could carry on with the training of the musicians with
greater dedication and energy. He was still quite young and was
himself well-trained as besides being a musician in the Armed
Forces, he was also a soloist with the famous “Kings Own Band” of
Valletta: music was his life, so to speak.
Mro. Anton Muscat Azzopardi
1928 - 1930
Mro. Mikiel Farrugia
1930 - 1946
This photos shows Mons. De Piro in the presence
of some priests at the St Joseph Institute
Under his tutelage,
the young musicians went from strength to strength and the villagers
started to take note of the new Society in their midst. Now the
sixth anniversary of the Institute’s opening was nearing and a
special program of festivities to mark the occasion was being
prepared. It was decided, by the institute’s directors, that the new
band would make its baptism of fire.
The first public debut
On the 17th May 1931, a considerable crowd from all parts of Gozo gathered in the
Institute’s yard and environs to witness the public debut of the new
St. Joseph Band. On this first occasion, among other renditions. the
new Band played the “Omaggio Al Superiore Mons. De Piro”. The work
of Mro Mikiel Farrugia. It was fitting that the first notes played
by the new band would be in honour of its founder and composed by
the Maestro who had trained it to attain the required level to play
in public. As witnesses recalled later, Mons De Piro, who was justly
moved by the occasion, delivered the inaugural address and wished
the new band a long life.
The new band soon showed its mettle by taking part in several feasts
and other occasions. It took part in the feasts of St. Anthony and
Our Lady of Lourdes (both at Ghajnsielem). On the 5th July 1931,
it moved out of the village’s orbit for the first time to take part
in the festivities connected with the Sabina Church in Victoria.
In 1932 it took part for the first time in the festers’ of St.
George in Victoria and the Sacred Heart in Fontana. in the same year
(1932) it played in the hospitals of Victoria
and Chambray. On the 25th April 1934 it accompanied the new statue
of Our Lady of Grace to its home in the Convent of the Capuchins in
Victoria. And on the 17th May 1933, the Band welcomed the Governor
with the playing of “God Save” on the occasion of the Silver
Jubilee of King George V.
Mons. De Piro passes away
A new chapter starts under Fr. Galea Rapa
The year 1933 was a sad year for the St. Joseph’s Home and the young
band within it because of the death of Mons.
Guzeppi De Piro. Shortly afterwards the Institute passed under the
care of the Gozitan Father Joseph Galea Rapa, who became its new
director. He was assisted by Fr. John Galea who was acted both as a
secretary and treasurer.
The arrival of this priest opens a new and important chapter in the
history of the band. It was time that the band developed in a new
direction and became an integral part of the village
of Ghajnsielem. Father Galea Rapa did not find a promising situation
when he became Director. There were very few musicians as only
members of the Institute could play and these were always changing.
Therefore he. could not rely on a solid base of musicians and this
fact was hamstringing the band and threatening an early demise. It
was now that Father Joseph saved the new Band and rejuvenated it
with new blood by opening its doors to youths from the village and
with one stroke enlarged it and put it forever in the mind and
affection of the villagers of Ghajnsielem. His first achievement was
to secure permission from the Bishop Michael Gonzi to enroll as
musicians young men from the Catholic Action of Ghajnsielem.
Guzepp Galea Rapa
Presentation of the Union Jack in Comino, 1937
This achievement, though
crucial for the Band’s history, created the problem of a
shortage of musical instruments. But by 18th February
1937, these were bought and by 1938 the Band also
sported a new uniform. By the beginning of the Second
World War, the Band was performing in all Gozitan
feasts, On the 30th July 1937 it took part in the Comino
feast as well: a celebration most sought after by the
villagers of Ghajnsielem. On this occasion, the band was
presented with a Union Jack by Col. Vella on behalf of
Messrs. Cutajar and Smith.
The World War and the end
of the first part of the Band’s history
With the falling of the first bombs and the macabre wail
of the sirens, the Band stopped playing. The War brought
with it the end of the first part of the Band’s history.
What did the future hold for this relatively young
Society, which after only a short time, had become
established on the Gozitan musical scene?
After the war ended the band reorganised itself. In
1946, however, Mro. Mikiel Farrugia, due to other
commitments, resigned and his place was taken by Mro.
Ganni Vella. The latter started to train new musicians
and the Band soon began to take part in the Institute’s
annual fair and in several parochial feasts in Gozo.
In 1947 a new bandstand was inaugurated, the work of
several enthusiasts from Ghajnsielem among them the late
Guzeppi Cutajar and Angelo Gauci. Among the memorable
events of the post-war period one notes the annual
invitations which Capt. A. Zammit Cutajar extended to
the Society on the occasions of the Feast of Comino and
the inauguration of the ferry “Bancinu” to which the
Band was invited by Mr. Joe Gasan, the owner of the
One may also mention the presentation of trophies by Mr.
G. Mizzi, President of the “Duke of Connaught” Band Club
of Birkirkara which in that era used to take such an
important part on the Ghajnsielem feast under the baton
of Mro. Anthony Aquilina. But this was a challenging
period for the Society, fraught with problems and
obstacles. Several of its best musicians began to
emigrate and by the start of the fifties the Band was in
crisis. The number of musicians fell to around a score:
new musicians were few and far between and soon fell to
a trickle and the Band dissolved. This is a “dark
period” in the Society’s and the village’s musical
history and there is little concrete detail to follow
what exactly happened.
The St Joseph Band is Reborn
Years passed. One
generation followed another and by the mid sixties the
youths of the village began to talk about re-founding
the village’s Musical Society. It was a hard time in the
village: the building of the new church was being
finally taken seriously by the villagers, the Football
Club was on its way to the top, the directors of the
institute under the leadership of Father Guzeppi Galea
Rapa began. in 1966 to encourage the remnants of the
post-war band to resurrect the Society.
In May 1966, that old war-horse, Guzeppi Attard, with
whose name the Band Club has become synonymous, together
with some other enthusiasts, made a formal plea to the
Director of the Institute for the use of the Institute
and the old Society’s musical instruments, With this
plea granted, these members were successful in engaging
the services of the up-and-coming Mro. Guzeppi Farrugia,
son of mentor Mro. Mikiel Farrugia. It is worth nothing
that Guzeppi Attard beside being an active bandsman,
held the position of secretary for over 30 years and was
the driving force behind some of the most important
decisions in the history of St Joseph Band.
The era of
Mro. Joseph Farrugia
The young Maestro started the Herculean task of
instructing the youths of the village in theory and
practice and within a year the old society rose from the
ashes like the mythical phoenix.
On the13th April 1967, the band gave its first concert
as preparation for its first march some time later. The
first Committee was formed with Father Galea Rapa as its
first President and on the 7th May the “new” band but
with an “old name” played its first tunes in a march
which was attended by a large and enthusiastic crowd.
This was the start of a new era for the “St. Joseph
Musical Society” Under an energetic young maestro, a
veritable chip off the old block, the new band
progressed beyond recognition during its first years.
Every year the band was strengthened with a crop of
bright new students that never dipped below forty.
In 1968, Joseph Cauchi who
was part of the first band in 1928 replaced Father Galea
Rapa as President of the St Joseph Band in 1968. Joseph
was still occupying this position when he suddenly
passed away on the 6th of June 1973. He was replaced by
his brother, Amabile who at that time was a Member of
Parliament. Amabile Cauchi held this position for 15
years and was later appointed Honourable President of
the Club until he passed away in 1995.
presented his compositions both festive and religious to
the Band. He also composed and presented to the band his
own “Marching Hymns” only a year after its renovation.
The Band soon became a regular on the Gozo “festa”
circuit and one can say that it became the bed-rock on
which the village’s own “festa” was based.
Among many other commitments the Band started to take a
very active part in the feasts of Saint Mary and St
George in Victoria where, for a number of years, they
were allotted some of the most challenging musical
programs on the rival band stands of “it-Tokk”, which
previously were the prerogatives of sophisticated
This annual challenge was taken up with gusto by Mro.
Farrugia and his young musicians who. over the years.
played selections from ‘Rigoletto”. “II Trovatore”.
“Madame Buttefly” and other operatic masterpieces. In I
93 during the feast of the Assumption, in a veritable
act of hubris, Mro. Farrugia dared to present to a
critical public, the overture “1812” by Tchaikovsky.
This performance was the “apex” reached by the Maestro
and his young musicians - nothing since then has matched
this achievement.From 1967 onwards. the Band has taken part in several
feasts on the larger island, both during Holy Week and
those connected with the summer “festa”. It also took
part year in year out in the Carnival festivities in
Victoria. Besides its already mentioned importance in
the Ghajnsielem feast, it also took part in the
‘victory’ marches celebrating Ghajnsielem F.C. ‘s
successes in the early 70’s and also in the almost
contemporary activities connected with Ghajnsielem Week,
which was organized by the Cultural Club of the village.
the new premises
From the beginning the
problem of an adequate headquarters always loomed large.
At first the Band occupied part of the Institute’s
building and as space was no problem the Band could
organise cultural and social activities, besides the
basic musical ones. But many members felt that it was
time for the St. Joseph Band to cut off its connection
with the institute.
This problem was tackled and (with hindsight) overcome
by the then Committee, with the contract for a piece of
land centrally located near Ghajnsielem’s New Parish
Church of Our Lady of Loreto. The land was owned by the
Gozo Curia and the transfer contract was signed on the
17th of December 1973 at the Curia offices in Victora.
The club was represented by President Amabile Cauchi,
Secretary Michael Scicluna and Treasurer Joseph Attard
on one side while Rev. Mons T Curmi and Archpriest
Espeditio Tabone represented the Church. The plans were
drafted by Architect Joe Dimech of Victoria. The St.
Joseph Band meanwhile moved to a temporary premises in
Ramon Perellos Street while several volunteers gave a
helping hand in the construction of the new premises.
By 1975, the new
headquarters was functioning and immediately became not
only the musical centre of the community but also a
social and cultural club. A side terrace extension was
built in 1992 while imposing front terrace
was extended in 2005. It is also worth noting that the
premises today enjoys one of the busiest bar and
restaurant on the island. Recently, the committee
started a long-term plan to renovate and refurbishment
the 60th Anniversary and
the visit of Pope John Paul II
On the 11th December 1988 on the initiative of its
President Joe Xuereb, the Society celebrated the 60th
Anniversary of its inception by unveiling two plaques,
one commemorating this anniversary and another
commemorating Mons. Guseppi De Piro, its founder. The
large crowd present also greeted Mikiel Ciangura,
paterfamilias of a family long connected with the
Society, who was part of the original band in 1928. On
that memorable occasion “old Mikiel” was the living link
between those dim days of an uncertain past and the
confident but challenging days of a vastly different
era. On the 26th of May 1990, the St Joseph Band proudly
welcomed Pope John Paul II to Gozo. In 1991, Loreto
Spiteri was elected the sixth President of the club, a
position he held for 11 years. He immediacy embarked on
a project to built a terrace on the left side of the
premises. The extension was inaugurated in 1992.
Farrugia passes away
In 1992 Mro. Giuzeppi Farrugia’s connection with the
Society was terminated by his early demise. His place
was ably filled by Mro. Joseph N. Sammut who rose to the
challenge of directing the Band into the new millennium.
In 1992 he inaugurated a program of classical scores to
be performed at the Feast of Our Lady of Loreto, thus
maintaining and strengthening the link with his
predecessor’s love for this genre of music.
In 1995 the St. Joseph Musical Society, under the
leadership of Loreto Spiteri and Giuseppi Attard,
participated in the celebrations of the seventh century
anniversary of the translation of the House of Nazareth
from Palestine to Loreto in Italy by organizing the
band’s first tour abroad. This ‘adventure’ was a great
success and augured well for the future.
In 1996, several bandsmen
were honoured for their 30 years of service to the
Society. A year later, the St Joseph Band joined several
other Maltese bands which also bear the same patron
saint and accompanied the statue of St Joseph from
Valletta's City Gate to the Our Lady Of Mt. Carmel
Basilica. In 1998, the St Joseph Band commemorated the
70th Anniversary. Mikiel Ciangura and Peter Camilleri,
then being last two bandsman still alive which formed
part of the first band in 1928 were special guests for
that occasion. During the same year, the St Joseph Band
also issued the first album on Compact Disc (CD). The
band celebrated the new millennium by taking part in
national festivities held towards the end of 1999.
Since Mro. Sammut’s advent,
the Band’s commitment to inject new blood into it has
resulted in the inclusion of many young youths (of both
sexes) into its ranks. The ‘young bloods’ who formed the
core of the 1967 band are now middle-aged or approaching
their sixties but now their thinning ranks are being
replenished by young talent which shows every promise of
emulating the ‘veterans’. The administration also started to give more
importance to the School of Music by encouraging new
students to join the Band. The music lessons and trainee
sessions started to be organized on a weekly basis,
teaching practice and theory of music to new students.
The students are given a musical instrument by the club.
Galea chosen as the new Band Director
After the resignation of Mro. Sammut in February 2003
the committee headed by new President Paul Scicluna chose wisely when appointing Mro. Sunny
Galea A.L.C.M. was appointed Band Conductor. During his
first few months in this position he wrote various new
pieces for our band including 'Innu Marc lill-Madonna ta'
Loreto' and a Religious Marc dedicated to Mons. Guzeppi
De Piro to commemorate the 75th anniversary from when he
founded the St. Joseph Band Club.
In 2004, the members elected
Anthony Agius as their eighth President and one his
first activities was on 1st May 2004, when the St
Joseph Band took part in the celebrations when Malta
joined the European Union. Anthony Aguis also donated a
replica of the Ghajnsielem Arch-Parish church built by
himself to the Club. But unfortunately, a year later,
the St Joseph Band faced a period of uncertainty when on
the 6th of April 2006, President Anthony Aguis passed
away. It was just a few months before when he started
the extension and re-pavement of the front terrace.
The works were completed by Acting President Spiridione
Cauchi and was inaugurated two months later. The
imposing terrace is today synonymous with the club's
premises. During the same year (2006), the St. Joseph
Band also took part in the celebrations of Ghajnsielem
F.C. who were crowned 2005/6 Gozo League Champions and
also the 150th Anniversary of the Ghajnsielem Parish.
of the Club's Premises
and the Musical Archive
The Club was facing problems
in finding fresh members for the administration but in
2006, a new committee of ‘young bloods’ was elected. The
new committee was headed by President Gino Cauchi,
Secretary Kevin Cauchi and Treasurer Elvin Tabone and
included of several new faces. Full of energy and
enthusiasm, the new committee together with the
veterans, immediately embarked a long-awaited project...
the Musical Archive. During the same year,
the committee welcomed to its premises Mgr Mario Grech,
the new Bishop of Gozo.
In 2007, the the St Joseph
Band organized an eight-days tour in Italy for 140
people. A year later, the club commemorated
the 80th Anniversary with several activities including a
Musical Program under the distinguished patronage of
H.E. Dr Edward Fenech Adami, President of Malta.
The last two years were very
busy and important for St Joseph Band as the committee created
a long-term plan to renovate and refurbishment the club's
premises. Works immediately started on the Formal
Committee Room which will soon host the Musical Archive.
The Main Hall is also being upgraded while the committee
is currently discussing designs for the upgrading of the bar
and restaurant area. It is also worth noting that the club
recently started to
organize several cultural exhibitions on a regular
basis as it aims to turn the Band's premises into a
Following the successful
visit to Loreto, Italy in 1995, the St. Joseph Band was
invited to perform for the
feast of St Paul in Palazzolo Acreide near Siracusa.
The strong 80-people delegation which included over 50
bandsmen, members of the executive committee and
supporters arrived in Sicily on the 28th of June 2009
for a 4-Day trip which included
band march around the
village and a musical program on 29th of June, Feast
Applause, honour and praise were showered on the St
Joseph Band as it proudly represented Ghajnsielem and Malta during this trip."Un
bellissimo concerto" was the title of a full page
article published the following day on the 'Liberta' newspaper of
Siracusa praising the performance of our band.
magnificent performance, the St. Joseph Band was again
invited for the feast of St Paul in Palazzolo Acreide
the following year - an invitation which the committee
and bandsmen duly accepted. The delegation again
consisted of 80-people who arrived in Sicily on the 27th
of June for another 4-day trip.
Beside the external
services, the St Joseph Band manages to inaugurate a program of new
marches both festive (connected with the Ghajnsielem
parish feast) and funerary (connected with the Holy Week)
on a yearly basis. The club has become a hub of cultural and social
activities including exhibitions,
social evenings as well as catering for the
entertainment of the community through such activities
as regular ‘tombolas’, high teas and barbecues.
Today, the St Joseph Band is
proud to have a record of over 50 bandsman and 20
students (Alljievi) - all of which hail from
Ghajnsielem. Everything started when Mons. Joseph De
Piro decided to bring some musical instruments for the
St Joseph Institute. Since then, the band faced several
moments of happiness but also of difficulties.
The two main pillars which
define the core values of St Joseph
Band are Christianity and the love to the village of
Ghajnsielem. These two values combined together should
safeguard its future
its glorious history.