“We artists are the first responders to the soul and as we need food and water, we need the arts to enrich and beautify our lives and inspire us to listen and dialogue with each other” believes the Dutch Maltese conductor of international fame, Lawrence Renes.

Renes, who has recently been appointed Maltese Cultural Ambassador for Music, will be conducting the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra for the 21st century opera by George Benjamin, set to a text by Martin Crimp, Written on Skin, which will be broadcast on TVM this spring. This opera is considered to be one of the most successful operas of recent times.

“The arts are always necessary and are now important as much as ever,” he adds.

It’s absolutely wonderful that after the ECoC 2018, the Maltese government decided to continue building on its legacy. The world has been in a pandemic for a year now and while some countries closed down everything including the arts, the Maltese Government has decided to keep things going and the Valletta Cultural Agency has launched its Cultural Programme.

In times like these, we need more culture because this is the only way to deal with things close to our hearts.

Almost a year ago, Renes had to break the news to more than 100 musicians as part of the MPO that the Mahler concert they were rehearsing for – which was also part of the VCA’s Cultural Programme – was being cancelled due to the COVID-19 situation.

This will be his first time working again since the end of November when he conducted at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

He has been very seriously affected by the pandemic which he says has changed his life. “You go from doing what you are born to do, to not being able to do what you’re born to do,” Renes says.

However, he remains positive.

“At the moment, many orchestras around the world are finding out how important communication with our audiences is and we will be in a better position to understand what they need and to give them more,” Renes concludes.