On the 1st August 2001, the Chorus Urbanus, for the fifth time, left Malta to perform abroad. During this choral tour, the Choir visited the famous European cities of Budapest and Vienna, the capital cities of Hungary and Austria respectively. The Choir was under the direction of its musical director, Mro. John Galea and performed on five different occasions and localities.
This choral tour in Budapest was made upon the invitation of a local choir, St Anthony’s Choir, the resident choir of the Church dedicated to St. Francis in Budapest. The yea r before this tour materialised, some officers of the St Anthony who were visiting Malta, heard the Chorus Urbanus singing, contacted the Choir committee and invited it to go to Budapest to perform there. A programme of cultural and recreational activities was prepared which enabled the Chorus Urbanus to reach another milestone in its glorious history.
Hungary, together with Austria, was the venue of the Chorus Urbanus’ 5th choral tour. The Choir was visiting Hungary on the invitation of the Szent Antoni Chor of St. Anthony’s Church in Budapest.
The Choir gave various concerts and took part in liturgical services in prestigious venues. The Choir’s first commitment was during a service in St Anthony’s Church to commemorate the feast of the Porziuncola, on the 2nd August. The Chorus Urbanus performed the Missa Brevis by Abbe’ Boyer as well as other motets by Mozart, Palestrina and Viadana. Szentendre was the Choir’s next venue for an a cappella concert. This concert was performed in St Peter & St Paul’s Templum in the same town on the 3rd August. Here the Choir presented the audience with works by Bruckner, Palestrina, Viadana, Elgar, Camilleri, Galea, Arcadelt, Bortniansky, Caruana and Mozart.
The climax of this choral tour was reached on the 5th August 2001 when the Chorus Urbanus performed in the majestic St Stephen’s Basilica (Szent Istvan Bazilika), an architectural masterpiece in neo-Renaissance style. The Choir took part in the Sunday evening service as part of the millenium celebrations culminating on St Stephen’s Day (20th August 2001). After the service, the Choir presented a concert of a cappella works by Maltese composers. This performance in such a prestigious venue was well received by the 1500-strong congregation which in turn regaled the Choir with a standing ovation at the end of the concert.
During this choral tour, the Choir members had the opportunity to visit numerous other places of interest and various towns outside Budapest namely Szentendre, Visegrad, Eger, Godollo, Lake Balaton, Tihany and Kezhely.
On Saturday, 4th August 2001 the Chorus Urbanus set foot on Austrian soil and wrote another glorious chapter in its history by giving a concert in the City of Music, Vienna.As the venue for its concert, the Choir chose the Malteserkirche, a church dedicated to St John the Baptist, Patron Saint of the Order of Malta. In fact the Choir was given permission to sing in this church by courtesy of the Members of the Sovereign Military Order of the Knights of Malta. This church is situated just in the middle of Karnerstrasse, Vienna’s principal street stretching from St Stephen’s Cathedral to the Wiener Staatsoper (the opera House).
The Choir presented a concert of sacred music sung ‘a cappella’ featuring works by Palestrina, Viadana, Mozart, Caruana, Galea, Arcadelt, Bruckner and Bortniansky. At the end of the concert the Choir’s President presented copies of the Choir’s CD’s to the Prior of the Order who was present for the concert.
The next commitment in Austria was in Biedermannsdorf, a suburb of Vienna. Here the Choir took part in a fund raising concert (Benefizkonzert) in aid of the building of a school project in Africa. The Choir accompanied soloists Yvonne Galea, soprano, Pamela Bezzina, mezzo soprano, Mario Portelli, tenor and Noel Galea, bass.in a number of operatic pieces featuring works by Verdi, Rossini, Mozart, Brahms, Donizetti, Puccini and Handel.