GĦANAFEST is a two-day music festival which takes place every year in June in the marvellous surroundings of Argotti Gardens in Floriana. The festival takes its name from the Maltese folk singing known as 'Għana' (pronounced A-na).
There are 3 main types of għana: fil-Għoli, tal-Fatt and Spirtu Pront.
1. Għana fil-Għoli is also known as Bormliża, taking its name from the city of Bormla where it was popular. Bormliża singing requires males to reach into extraordinarily high soprano ranges without breaking into falsetto. This style mimicked the early informal għana sung by women, but due to its extreme vocal demands, this style is very seldom practised.
2. Għana tal-Fatt literally means ‘fact’ or ‘actually happened’. This melancholic ballad style involves one għannej recounting a story about well known local identities, events or recent interesting or humorous, Maltese folktales and legends. Spirtu pront translates as ‘quick wit’, and originated from the informal ‘song duels’
3. In Spirtu Pront sessions, two or more għannejja (singers) are paired together and take part in an improvised song duel that demonstrates their knowledge of a wide range of social topics as well as their command of the Maltese language. Sessions take around an hour in duration, and there may be a number of sessions that make up a whole performance. The għannejja are the living poets of the Maltese language, singing in a highly expressive, free flowing style. Their improvised melodic lines borrow heavily from Arabic influenced scales.
Although the programme includes some of this musical genre, it also goes beyond the local boundaries, converging soundscapes and cultures that look seemingly disparate but are indeed closer than one may think.
In 2020 and 2021 the Għanafest team decided to adapt their usual 2-day festival programme into a week-long activity-packed online event.
There is no festival scheduled in 2022 but you will find any updates here as soon as possible.