CULTURE

The sound of music

Abu Dhabi Classics returns to the capital for its ninth season, promising a packed line-up of performances

Some of the biggest names in classical music are making their way to the UAE capital this month for the return of Abu Dhabi Classics. The 2020 edition of the music festival kicked off on January 28 with French pianist David Fray leading the ensemble through Bach’s popular compositions for the piano. The performance saw the Geneva Chamber Orchestra and three other world-renowned pianists – Emmanuel Christien, Audrey Vigoureux and Jacques Rouvier – join Fray to deliver a musical extravaganza, which was met with thunderous applause from the audience. Among the evening’s many highlights was Bach’s Concertos for Two, Three and Four Pianos, which involved the quartet playing simultaneously to create soul-stirring rhythm patterns. Fray’s rendition is known around the world and fans in the emirate had the privilege of experiencing the masterpiece first hand on opening night. Now in its ninth year, Abu Dhabi Classics has successfully carved a niche for itself as one of the nation’s foremost live music events. Every year, the festival brings an ever-expanding roster of international artists to a growing base of classical music enthusiasts in the emirates. 

This year’s programme will shine a spotlight on Ludwig van Beethoven’s contributions to music on the occasion of his 250th birth anniversary. A tribute act is set to take place on February 5 at Du Arena on Yas Island. The Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, one of Germany’s largest ensembles, has curated the programme, inspired by the musician’s most influential works. Beethoven’s 9th Symphony will be the evening’s showstopping act. A highly acclaimed composition, the piece marked a turning point in musical history, ushering in the 19th century’s ‘Romantic’ period. The concert will see more than 100 musicians and a chorus of 70 singers perform this uplifting creation, which represents humanity, tolerance and unity. The Hamburg Symphony Orchestra will also perform on February 4 at the Cultural Foundation, treating audiences to an immersive chamber music programme. Among other hits, the troupe will perform the Clarinet Quintet in B minor by Johannes Brahms.

First unveiled by Brahms in the 19th century, the composition is still regarded as one of the most remarkable works of chamber music ever produced. There is plenty more in store for fans of the genre, with concerts from homegrown and international artists, and one of the Arab world’s leading female vocalists closing the season. French pianist Lise de la Salle will perform Dances, a programme exploring dance rhythms in classical music, on February 1. The show will include works from Ravel, Stravinsky, Bartok and Debussy. Audiences will also be able to enjoy outstanding talent from across the region. Egyptian star Sanaa Nabil will perform at the Cultural Foundation on February 6, accompanied by Egypt’s acclaimed chamber music quartet, Cordes Croisées. Nabil hails from a rich line of musical ancestors, but she found fame as a contestant on the reality TV show, Arabs Got Talent. During her performance titled Laylat Saltana, the artist will belt out popular hits that won her a large following in the region. Drawing the season to a finish, Lebanese singer Majida El Roumi will enthrall audiences at Du Arena on February 7 along with her 70-member orchestra.

Known for her extraordinary vocal range, she has performed at some of the most prestigious concert halls across the globe, including the Olympia in Paris, Royal Albert Hall in London and Carnegie Hall in New York. El Roumi’s crystal-clear voice and extraordinary vocal range is lauded and loved the world over, making her headline act a fitting finale to the ninth season of Abu Dhabi Classics. 

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