x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Classical musicians eager to improvise play in Dubai

Renowned young Swedish violinist Hugo Ticciati and pianist Henrik Mawe play at The Fridge on Thursday.

Interrupting someone when they're in the middle of an activity that looks rather complicated isn't the easiest of tasks to achieve.

And when that activity involves playing what appears to be an extremely tricky piece on the violin featuring some fast-paced fingerwork and a look of deep concentration, it's even worse. But here I am, loitering by the stage at the Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre (Ductac) in the Mall of the Emirates while renowned young Swedish violinist Hugo Ticciati and pianist Henrik Mawe rehearse, having been told simply to interrupt the proceedings to get a few words with them.

After a few minutes of feeling rather awkward, I hear a voice from the back of the empty concert hall alerting Ticciati to my presence and the rehearsal comes to a swift halt.

Thankfully, neither appears to be irritated. They were practising for a concert at Ductac, which was held Monday night, and where they performed compositions by the likes of John Adams and Philip Glass. However, it's the show at The Fridge in Dubai's Al Quoz district tomorrow night that I'm interested in: a special one-off event that sounds rather curious.

"We're going to be doing a collaboration with a choreographer and her dancing troupe, so it'll be really interesting to see what happens on the night," says Ticciati.

The choreographer, locally based Riina Liukkonen, was introduced to the duo by the team at The Fridge, although they haven't performed with each other yet.

"We're not exactly sure how it's going to work, but it'll be a lot of fun," says Ticciati. "One idea we had was that we could simply let them dance in whatever style they wanted and improvise over the top."

But before I have the chance to worry about the potential violin and piano arrangement for the bouncing knees of a team of crunk dancers, it becomes clear that the boys aren't afraid of keeping things on the edge. "We don't know what music we're going to play yet. We'll probably just decide what we feel like before we go on," says Mawe. "It'll be very spur of the moment."

Regardless, there are a few hints as to what the night might bring. "We are probably going to play pieces by the contemporary Swedish composers Albert Schelzer and Esais Järnegaard," says Ticciati. He warns, however, that among the tracks is one that many might find somewhat difficult to listen to. "It's a tricky one to appreciate; it didn't go down so well when I played it in the UK. It's really there just to give listeners a new experience."

Another selection for The Fridge will see Ticciati perform while a video plays in the background, testing the precision of his timekeeping to ensure he hits the notes at exactly the right moment in the film. "I've got a stopwatch running and notes in the score telling me where I need to be," he says.

Although Ticciati and Mawe haven't played in the Middle East before, their UAE audiences should feel in safe hands. Having debuted at the age of 12 at the Edinburgh Festival, Ticciati, now 31, has gone on to perform around the world, playing with orchestras and giving regular recitals in some of Europe's most prestigious halls. He leads the Leonhard String Quartet and directs La Ronde des Violons, a seven-strong group of violinists that recently toured Sweden and China.

For those who might perhaps like to reach the greatness Ticciati already has achieved in his field, he'll be holding a one-off masterclass at The Fridge tonight, in which aspiring musicians will have the chance to learn various aspects of technique.

For those who are just content to see a master at work, head down tomorrow night. And if you see Ticciati or Mawe before the show, you might even be able to make a request.

Hugo Ticciati and Henrik Mawe play at The Fridge on Thursday, September 8. For more information, visit www.thefridgedubai.com