time to explore with esplora

Malta’s International Percussion Festival Returns this May

Malta’s International Percussion Festival Returns this May

Saturday 7 May sees the welcome return of Trakafest, Malta’s first and only world percussion festival.The event will take place at Vincent’s Eco Estate in Mgarr, from 9am until late


This year’s event follows on from the last edition of the festival to take place in 2020, and fills an important gap in Malta’s musical landscape, providing both visibility and information on Malta’s burgeoning, yet still largely underground world percussion scene. Created and directed by José Calderón, the leader of Malta-based percussion group Trakadum, the event welcomes numerous highly respected collaborators for a day of workshops and live music.

The role of percussion in music —and, as such, the approach to percussion playing —varies largely by region across the world. In Europe and North America, percussion has tended to focus primarily on the drum kit used in pop, rock and jazz, with so-called ‘auxiliary percussion’ (including shakers and additional hand percussion) employed to further expand the overall sound, as well as seeing some use in classical music. In essence, the predominant role of percussion in the West has been that of ‘keeping time’ —providing a centralised and integral component of a piece of music that maintains the beat and provides sonic interest.


Elsewhere in the world, however, this approach varies hugely. In regions such as Africa and the Asian subcontinent, percussion forms a more prominent role in music, with additional emphasis placed on interaction and participation, as well as employing significantly larger groups of percussionists. Most notable is the use of percussion as an exclusive musical component, featured without the addition of pitched instruments. The approach to percussion playing also varies significantly, with music from these geographical locations utilising musical devices such as complex ‘polyrhythms’ —comprised of multiple rhythms played simultaneously. While hugely enjoyable and intellectually stimulating, world percussion music faces several hurdles in the West, however, most notably the lack of experienced practitioners to help spread knowledge of the genre and a relative shortage of dedicated events. Enter, Trakafest.

This year marks the third edition of the festival, which began life in 2019 at the BMX Warehouse in Pembroke before returning in 2020 —though in an online format owing to COVID-19 restrictions in place at the time (videos and photographs of past editions of the festival may be viewed online at the Trakafest Facebook page). Trakafest aims to bring world percussion to new audiences, as well as providing a valuable platform for Malta’s international percussion and dance communities.

This year’s festival presents a series of workshops featuring tutors including Trakadum leader José Calderón, distinguished Maltese percussionist Benji Cachia AKA Banjo Rancho, Spanish percussionist, producer and educator Antonio Monedero “Toño” and Columbian contemporary dancer Yonna Lizzouli Bernal.

From left: Benji Cachia, Yonna Lizzouli Bernal and Antonio Monedero

As well as the various educational sessions taking place, Trakafest also features a series of performances and jam sessions, including a DJ set at the end of the night.

“We are so excited to make it happen again! This year will be held in an amazing natural environment where we will connect with drums and nature. Join us on Saturday 7 May for an unforgettable day with percussion and dance workshops, live music and many other surprises!” —José Calderón, founder and leader of Trakadum.

Tickets are available on presale for €10, and €12 on the door. For more information, contact Trakafest on Facebook.