The best of high culture coming to the capital
▶ Abu Dhabi Festival and Abu Dhabi Classics promise to be entertaining showcases of the world’s musical greats, while shining a spotlight on the emirate’s renovated Cultural Foundation, writes Saeed Saeed
Some of the biggest names in classical music, jazz and dance are set to appear as part of next year’s Abu Dhabi Festival. The annual event, which runs from Tuesday, March 31 to Thursday, April 9 and is organised by Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation, will feature about a dozen performances held in both Emirates Palace and NYU Abu Dhabi.
Some of the artists taking to the stage next year include US jazz star Gregory Porter, Chinese-American cellist Yo-Yo Ma, two performances by the acclaimed American Ballet Theatre, as well as a classical concert by the celebrated Cleveland Orchestra.
With the festival theme of Unity: Celebrating the Cultural Foundation, the event will pay tribute to the recently relaunched Abu Dhabi institution and the role it continues to play in enhancing the country’s artistic landscape. Below are the major performances coming to the capital next year.
British baritone Keenlyside to join top American orchestra
Abu Dhabi Festival’s performance programme begins with the regional debut of The Cleveland Orchestra. Described by the New York Times as “America’s greatest orchestra”, the ensemble are renowned for their expansive repertoire and technical excellence. This will be on display in their Emirates Palace performance on Tuesday, March 31, when they take on Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Opus 64.
Joining them in the capital is Simon Keenlyside. The British baritone is a seasoned stagehand, having been actively touring for three decades. With critics hailing the warmth and clarity of his vocals, Keenlyside will perform various arias from the high-profile productions he starred in over the years, such as in La Boheme (Marcello), The Merry Widow (Danilo) and as Figaro in The Barber of Seville.
Celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma returns to the festival stage
One of the hardest-working people in the classical music business, the celebrated Chinese-American cellist returns to the Abu Dhabi Festival with an Emirates Palace concert on Wednesday, April 1.
This will be a markedly different festival concert than the one in 2017, when he was joined by The Silk Road Ensemble. Where that concert was more experimental, next year’s gig is tailored for the purists. Backed by The Cleveland Orchestra, Ma will perform Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B minor, Opus 104 and Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 in C Major ‘The Great’, D 944.
Emirates Youth Symphony Orchestra to hit the right note
This shall be an inspiring evening on all counts. Established in 1994 by Syrian-Czech violinist Riad Kudsi, the ensemble was one of the earliest classical music groups in the UAE and has performed at various festivals over the years. The players are topnotch, too, as the orchestra has an accreditation with the Premiere Music College of Prague.
The prestigious conservatory welcomes orchestra members each year where they are put through their paces in a series of exams. Their UAE performance, on Monday April 6 at NYU Abu Dhabi’s Red Theatre, also serves as the perfect introduction to classical music. The programme consists of a concise series of much-loved works including Maurice Ravel’s Bolero and Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D major.