THE FIRST BAND WITHIN THE FIRST MUSICAL SOCIETY OF MQABBA
The Our Lady of Lilies Musical Society of Mqabba was officially established in 1911. The first meeting was held on the 28th May of the same year under the Presidency of Mr Paolo Caruana, a most prominent Mqabba businessman having a very important role in the conflict leading to the setting up of the two main Festa Societies of Mqabba. In fact, Mr Caruana presided two other Festa Organizations set up in Mqabba. In 1898 he was President of the ‘Casino San Giuseppe’ and ‘Casino Santa Maria’ in 1905. Nothing is documented so far regarding these two Societies, both aiming to celebrate the two main Mqabba Feasts, being the Assumption of Our Lady and the Feast in Honour of Our Lady of the Lilies. These two organizations were extremely short-lived. Infact, in 1910 or maybe before, occurred the famous split within the ‘Casino Santa Maria’, leading to the total closing down of this club. Consequently, Mr Caruana opened a new Club named ‘Circolo Pio X’, whose aim was to organize each year the Feast of Our Lady of the Lilies. He stayed at the head of this club for three years till 1914.
Like the majority of Maltese villages, Mqabba has very much suffered from the heavy damages caused during World War II. As war came finally to an end, everyday social life was in a mess. The locals like the rest of Malta longed to recover from this disaster and tried to create things by which they could recreatethemselves.
Till the beginning of 1944, none of the two Mqabba Societies incorporated an official Musical formation. The first reference to a Musical Society in Mqabba is documented in a letter dated 19th August 1944, sent by Mr Leonard Bilocca, Secretary of the Lily Club to the Police Depot in Hamrun. In this letter Mr Bilocca, submits the application in order to change the Club’s name from ‘The Lily Club’ to ‘The Lily Band Club’. This letter was duly accepted and was in turn acknowledged by another letter addressed to Mr Bilocca dated 29th August 1944 informing him that with immediate effect, the Club’s name was altered to ‘The Lily Band Club’, and thus officially recognised as a Musical Society on the 29th August 1944:
“Sir, I am directed by the Commissioner of Police to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 19th instant, informing him that the name “The Lily Club” has been altered to “The Lily Band Club”.
This letter indicates that musical activity already went on within the club organizing the Feast of Our lady of Lilies, and for this reason, the Committee, applied in order to acquire the status of Musical Society.
It is also the only valid original document published so far by an Mqabba Festa Organisation regarding the setting up of its own Band.
The Our Lady of Lilies Band appeared in public for the first time on the 9th December 1945, performing a Musical Concert in Mqabba main Square on the occasion of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception under the direction of Mro Joseph Darmanin. On the day of the Feast of Our Lady of Lilies, the Band made the first Midday March of Mqabba. The Band attired a great deal of admiration from the very beginning and it was no surprise that just 8 months after its debut gave its first service outside Mqabba, during the Feast of Stella Maris in Sliema in August 1946.