For half a century, the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) has been Malta’s leading musical ensemble. The orchestra was founded in April 1968, when musicians from the defunct Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) orchestra of the Malta-based British Mediterranean Fleet regrouped as the Manoel Theatre Orchestra. It continued to serve as the theatre’s resident orchestra until September 1997, when it became an independent orchestra, taking up the name National Orchestra of Malta. The orchestra became the MPO in 2008 when it expanded to a full-sized symphony orchestra, bringing together the best of Maltese talent and musicians from Europe and beyond.

Joseph Sammut, the C-in-C’s last conductor, was the orchestra’s first conductor, remaining at the helm until 1992. Since then, the orchestra has been under the direction of Joseph Vella, John Galea, Michael Laus, and Brian Schembri. In 2019, the MPO appointed Sergey Smbatyan as Principal Conductor, joining Resident Conductor Michael Laus as part of the orchestra’s Artistic Team. The MPO also works with local and international guest conductors and soloists, including Lawrence Renes, Michalis Economou, Guy Braunstein, Alexei Volodin, Camilla Tilling, Joseph Calleja, and Enrico Dindo.

As Malta’s only professional orchestra, the MPO averages more than one performance a week including symphonic concerts, opera productions in Malta and Gozo, community outreach and educational initiatives, as well as various concerts of a lighter nature.

The orchestra has performed in leading venues across the globe, including in the United States, Russia, Germany, Austria, China, Italy, and Belgium, and embarks on at least one international tour each concert season.

The MPO is a keen promoter of Maltese composers, regularly performing their works in Malta and overseas, as well as frequently premiering and commissioning new compositions.

Through the MPO Academy and the Malta Youth Orchestra, which regularly give concerts across Malta, the MPO is also responsible for the training and professional development of the next generation of Maltese musicians.


Borodin Symphony No. 2

Release Date: March 24, 2023
Catalog Number: NV6393
Recognized as Malta’s foremost musical institution for half a century, the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra keeps the fire burning with an album featuring works from Alexander Borodin, Joseph Vella, and Paolino Vassallo. While all three pieces wield their own compositional characteristics, an underlying theme of pride and victory in the face of adversity is present throughout, with Vella’s Rebbieħa subtly referencing fragments of Malta’s national anthem, Vassallo’s Malta reflecting the patriotic ideals of Romantic period artists, and Borodin’s Second Symphony depicting the imagery and celebration of war heroes. Enjoy the sonorous roar of the full philharmonic orchestra as they tell tales of triumph through music.

Contemporary Colours

Release Date: November 20, 2020
Catalog Number: NV6322
21st Century
Conductor Sergey Smbatyan leads the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra on their new album CONTEMPORARY COLOURS. Featuring music exclusively by Maltese composers, the album combines full orchestration with pre-recorded elements, traditional instruments, and contemporary sounds to bring the pieces to life.