ABU DHABI // The second season of Abu Dhabi Classics will kick off with a performance by the New York Philharmonic, one of the biggest names in orchestral music. Organisers say the ensemble's Middle East debut is evidence of the increased quality and depth of the six-month series of concerts. The schedule, released yesterday, also includes the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Vienna Philharmonic and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.
"To see this kind of lineup of events in Europe, you would have to travel to a number of different countries and it might be very difficult to get tickets," said Abdulla al Ameri, the director of arts and culture for the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach). "What we are doing is gathering the best orchestras and performers in one city for one season." The series will attract tourists as well as residents, he said, including 300 visitors from Europe who have already booked holidays through travel agents affiliated with Adach.
The New York Philharmonic will open the 20-concert series on October 23 at the Emirates Palace hotel, which will be the venue for most of the shows. Till Janczukowicz, the artistic director for the classics series, said organisers learnt from their experience producing the first season. "We now know more how to put on a professional programme, which leaves us more time to invest in the side initiatives that build bridges into society," he said.
He said they hoped to attract bigger audiences and embrace an educational mission as well. Series officials will distribute a CD of the forthcoming repertoires to schools and universities to help increase people's awareness of the music before they attend the concerts. The Abu Dhabi Classics Academy, a part of the classics programme, has announced a series of lectures and pre-concert talks for university students throughout the season.
The first of these, on Beethoven's symphonies, will be held on October 21 at the American University of Sharjah. It will continue with a round-table discussion of Romantic music in Germany with visiting professors from Europe. There will be several family concerts, where boys and girls can join the orchestras on stage after the show to try their hand at composition or playing the instruments. "We are hoping to have a big impact on education," Mr Janczukowicz said. "There have been several studies in Europe to show that schoolchildren benefit from musical teaching. I am very happy to be able to bring this opportunity to the children of Abu Dhabi."
Mr al Ameri said Abu Dhabi Classics represented the persistence of the capital to make art, music and culture part of everyday life and to be a leading centre of culture. The Al Ain Classics Festival in March will be incorporated into this year's classics season, and will include the performance of a Mozart opera in Arabic. In December, there will be a concert for children, including a show of the Peter and the Wolf fairy tale.
Adach has introduced a new season ticket in which enthusiasts can ensure they get the same seat and guaranteed entry to every concert. Individual tickets will go on sale today. The schedule can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org