x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Honouring piano great Claude Debussy's 150th anniversary

The performance Debussy, Poet of the Avant-Garde features the leading French pianist Hugues Leclere and the Emirati opera singer Sara Al Qaiwani.

The French pianist Hugues Leclère. Courtesy Institut Francais
The French pianist Hugues Leclère. Courtesy Institut Francais

In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of the French composer Claude Debussy, the Institut Français in the UAE has invited two special guests to help mark the day.

In collaboration with Abu Dhabi Music and Art Foundation and Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, Debussy, Poet of the Avant-Garde features the leading French pianist Hugues Leclère and the Emirati opera singer Sara Al Qaiwani tomorrow, at Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi.

The programme was created especially for the anniversary by Leclère, as a tribute to Debussy's Preludes - two books of solo piano pieces. Leclère also commissioned 22 piano pieces to be played with Preludes. Leclère will perform an excerpt of this programme, Book 1 of Debussy's Preludes, with a selection of contemporary works.

"We thought it was a very creative and quite original way to pay a tribute to Debussy, who is clearly one of the most important French composers," says Antoine Grund, the deputy director of Institut Français UAE. "We are very glad that Debussy can help to create this unique encounter between French and Emirati artists - this is indeed a significant event."

Through such events, the UAE will further establish itself as an international hub for arts, culture and education, he believes.

Debussy is a "genius", a man of great importance in the history of music, says Leclère. Even as a young composer, Debussy often broke away from prevailing norms, often to establish new compositional structures that allowed him to "describe the complexity of our feelings and emotions", says Leclère.

"His sense of music space is totally unique, and refreshes the conception of instrumentation, even for piano. His sensibility is extreme and makes for a very fine approach to composing," says Leclère.

Working alongside Al Qaiwani, he says, is a great example of the universal effect of music.

Leclère says audiences should expect a "very French" evening of music, "very easy to listen to and very modern, in the sense of 'exciting to discover'. Not complex or didactic at all, but full of emotions and sound beauty."

From a man with such passion for music, expect also a night of music filled with mystery, sumptuous harmony and intensity.

Show starts tomorrow at 8pm, Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi. Tickets for adults cost Dh120, for children ages 12-18 and students Dh50, children under 12 free. Available at Time Out Tickets, Alliance Française, Spinneys Khalidiya and Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi.