The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) is kicking off its 2013-14 season in Abu Dhabi with some of the UAE’s brightest musical talent performing film scores.
A Night at the Movies: The Sequel is the follow-up to last year’s successful show. This time around, the audience can expect classic songs from the likes of Star Wars, Superman, The Dark Knight Rises, Amélie and A Room with a View.
The singer Balqees Al Fathi and the pianist Sarah Al Kaabi, both Emirati, will feature prominently in the production. Al Fathi is a former employee of Abu Dhabi Media, which owns The National, before leaving two years ago to pursue her singing career.
Since then the 26-year-old has gone on to achieve fame across the region for her mastery of both classical Arabic tunes and pop songs.
She will be turning her golden voice to the operatic standard O Mio Babbino Caro from A Room with a View and the emotional I Dreamed A Dream from Les Misérables.
After singing Arabic-style songs since childhood, Al Fathi had to rigorously train to adapt to a western style of singing.
“I think if you master one musical form, with practise you can adapt your skills to others,” she says. “It is extremely different to learn another style of singing. But I have put in a lot of effort over the past two years.”
She also hopes that, as a well-known singer in the Gulf region, she can impart the magnificence of classical music to her peers.
“This is a new challenge. We are trying to involve the Arabic audience in classical music, particularly the Emirati audience,” she explains.
“That is why [the organisers of NSO] are trying to involve talent such as myself and Sarah. It’s our dream to build a school of classical music for singers and musicians to learn this type of music.
“If people in the UAE are of a high level in this field, they can go on tours around the world and improve the name of the country. One of my dreams is to tell the world that there is a lot of talent in the UAE.”
Al Kaabi will be joining the orchestra for the title music for the 2001 French comedy Amélie. The 15-year-old says she is not overawed by the thought of playing in front of a live audience.
“I can play a lot more complicated stuff than this, such as Beethoven and Mozart,” she says. “Compared with them, this piece is easy-peasy.”
Al Kaabi hopes her presence in the orchestra will influence other Emiratis to get involved in classical music. “It’s hard, because most young people only like pop or rock music. Some Emiratis are interested in classical music, but many aren’t at all.
“Let’s see what happens with my career. Maybe I can set an example for other young people.”
Meanwhile, Al Fathi urges people to attend the show, as they will be amazed at the standard of the performance. “When we do concerts such as this, we perform something that hits an international level.
“I think people will be surprised at the high level of musicianship you will see at this concert,” she says.
• A Night at the Movies: The Sequel will be held in Jumeirah at Etihad Towers hotel in Abu Dhabi on Friday, with performances at 5pm and 8pm. Visit www.uaenso.org for more information