I love my job which happily is my vocation too because every now and again I get the chance to review musical work which has been recorded locally and involves local writers and musicians. When a new CD is launched here, for me it’s a cause for celebration because I know for certain that a bunch of local talented musicians have put in their best efforts to record something for posterity.
In mid-January I had the pleasure to attend the CD launch of a musical celebration in honour of Victor Francis, who over the last thirty years has composed a memorable catalogue of worship songs which have enriched our church community and indeed still do. The CD is called ‘Listen to Him’ and has eleven songs. There were nearly thirty other songs which had been considered worthy but more of that later.
Victor Francis is the doyen of local drummers and percussionists whose vast experience has seen him play with many bands over the years. Co-founder of the classical group ‘Vibrations’ which was led by the late William Gomez, many are not aware of the writing talents which Victor has applied to songs which have enriched the worship community locally. The same as Willie Gomez left us the musical gem that is his ‘Ave Maria’ which has been recorded by many international artists, I have no doubt that one day we will look back and see that Victor Francis left us another musical gem of the same stature called ‘A Veces Dios’.
That one is not the only great song in this collection. There are a handful of songs vying for that crown. The cream of our local musicians have rallied round producer and music teacher Chris Cortes to breathe new life into a bunch of great songs which stand up to close scrutiny and will gladden our hearts because we cannot keep talent hidden.
Talent will always shine and the list of talented musicians and vocalists assembled for this project include Adrian Pisarello, Richard Gomila, Simon Dumas, Jesse McLaren, Jeremy Perez, Christian Santos, Monica Gomila, Gail Hernandez, Jamis Mifsud, Chris Cortes, Denise Duo, Evan Torrente Galdez and the composer himself Victor Francis.
At the launch in the Theatre Cafe, which was very well attended and included Bishop Carmel Zammit, some clergy and Sir Peter Caruana, all the CD tracks were given an introduction by Chris Cortes and a short spin before some words from Victor the composer, two of the record producers Chris and Richard Gomila, the Minister for Culture John Cortes (also ‘a proud uncle’ in this case) and Mgr Charlie Azzopardi, gave way to the quick sale of a boxful of CDs.
Priced at £10, the proceeds of the CD will be reinvested into recording over twenty more songs which didn’t make the cut this time but which have also become a part of worship musical heritage and should not be lost, because over the last thirty years, lives here and abroad have been enriched by this music. These songs help to open up a unique way of communication with God.
‘He who sings prays twice’ in the words of St Augustine, is an often subscribed quote that holds true for many Christian communities throughout the world and especially in the Christian Charismatic Renewal movements. Indeed if proof were needed it was a joy to see so many sing along at the launch, this writer included, as I know many of the songs and continue to use them in our parish choir.
This tribute to Victor Francis’ worship music has taken a long time to happen and is now happily a treasure to be shared. Please be ‘tempted’ to buy a CD of the great songs, its mesmerising vocals and the feeling of pride and joy that here in Gibraltar we can produce something of this class, which showcases local musical talent in praise of a higher power. My unreserved congratulations go to the production team and sponsors as well as the artists and Victor Francis the composer… so very well done you all.