As already announced through our official Facebook Page yesterday night, our parish community, together with the whole Maltese nation, is in deep mourning for the sudden departure of Professor Joseph Vella, Malta’s leading and internationally most widely played Maltese composer.

Is-Surmast, as he was affectionately and respectfully known in Gozo, died at his second residence in Marsalforn, aged 76, at around 6.00pm.

Beside his academic and musical commitments in Malta and abroad, Professor Vella gave a sterling service to the local community in Gozo, where he was born and raised.

Following the footsteps of his father, over fifty-five years ago, Vella was made Maestro di Cappella at St George’s Basilica, where for so many years he has conducted the execution of some of his most splendid compositions, best know amongst them, the Mass in D Major “Princeps Martyrum” in honour of St George played annually on St George’s feast day in July. He composed the music for the hymn Georgius natus est, a favourite for many devotees.

At St George’s, Professor Vella was also one of the masterminds and the Artistic Director of the Victoria International Arts Festival.

For the last forty-seven years, he also served as Musical Director of the La Stella Philharmonic Society and the Astra Theatre, composing band marches for the La Stella Band and conducting it both in Gozo, Malta and abroad. He also conducted over sixty opera representations at the Astra Theatre.

Last Saturday, Professor Vella had just donated his whole musical archives to the Basilica Museum Il-Ħaġar.

Further details of his funeral to follow later on this week.

On a different note, St George’s parish community rejoiced today to the official announcement of the appointment of one of its priests to the office and dignity of Archbishop. Mgr Alfred Xuereb has just been appointed by H.H. Pope Francis as the new Apostolic Nuncio in South Korea and Mongolia. His episcopal consecration will be presided by Pope Francis himself on 19 March at the Vatican Basilica.

Mixed feelings for St George’s parish community today. We entrust all this to the Lord and our beloved patron Saint George.