Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 8 August 2020

Watch: From JLT balcony, Danish cellist joins sky-high 'musical movement' in Dubai

Soren Lyng Hansen is serenading apartment dwellers with his cello every night as a humble gesture of appreciation

A "musical movement" is sweeping Dubai, and it is being led by the nightly blast of a Spanish pipe, the soft thrum of a Danish cello and the blare of a trumpet.

Every night at 8pm, as residents take to their balconies to cheer for the healthcare workers battling coronavirus, musicians are now taking up arms to show their appreciation as only they know how: by playing instruments into the night air.

It's why in Dubai Marina, the blast of an Asturian pipe has become an everyday staple, as Spaniard Carlos Presno's music is sent out across the waters. In JVC, a trumpeter keeps the community entertained.

And in JLT, the apartment dwellers are serenaded each night by a Danish cellist.

Soren Lyng Hansen is a cellist and private teacher in Dubai. Courtesy Soren Lyng Hansen
Soren Lyng Hansen is a cellist and private teacher in Dubai. Courtesy Soren Lyng Hansen

"When I play, it is a gesture of appreciation directed at the people fighting for our wellbeing," Soren Lyng Hansen says.

"That is why I do it together with people applauding around 8pm, It is just a part of that 'movement'."

Hansen is originally from Copenhagen, Denmark, where he began playing the cello at the age of 6. He studied the instrument in his homeland, as well as the double bass, before heading off for the hallowed halls of the Royal College of Music in London.

While living in the UK, Hansen received private tuition from Jacqueline du Pre, widely regarded as one of the greatest cellists of all time. Her career was cut short by multiple sclerosis, which forced her to stop performing at the age of just 28.

For me it is a humble gesture of appreciation for front line health care workers

Soren Lyng Hansen

Hansen moved to Dubai as a professional musician five years ago. In the UAE, he made a name for himself as a cellist and double bass player, performing at events and also giving private lessons to children and adults.

He plays the cello for classical performances, as a soloist or part of a chamber music setting. He plays the electric cello in other genres such as jazz or pop. And he plays the double bass for jazz events; from small to large bands and in symphony orchestras.

Hansen performing to a crowd in Dubai Mall. 
Hansen performing to a crowd in Dubai Mall.

"At least I did until the Covid-19 outbreak with the necessary restrictions imposed by the UAE government," he says.

However, Hansen hasn't dwelled too much on work and gigs drying up. Instead, he has focused on stepping out on to his balcony each night to ensure those who are facing the crisis head-on are properly commended.

"In this struggle we are lucky to be in the good hands of frontline healthcare workers all over the world, who with the utmost sacrifice of putting their own life and health at risk, are fighting for our lives. For us," he says. "Literally for you and me and all our families and friends. And we can only praise and thank them."

Hansen performing on a yacht in Dubai. 
Hansen performing on a yacht in Dubai.

And so Hansen is glad the applause has become a nightly occurrence, rather than the one-off it was supposed to be on March 25. And he is happy to play his own part.

"Here in JLT, people gather on their balconies to applaud in different ways, clapping, chanting, banging pans ... it was an excellent opportunity for me to show same gratitude, just using another tool."

His performances range from Bach to popular jazz tunes, to pop or folk songs that "people can relate to".

He plays his own arrangements, too. One of his favourites is Song From A Secret Garden, which he "arranged as a cello fantasy, adding a little more green notes to an already beautiful garden and earth, to which we owe care and love to, as well as showing concern for each other's wellbeing".

But you don't have to be in JLT to hear Hansen's cello. Last Saturday, he streamed his performance on a Facebook live and he will do the same this Saturday.

"Not as a showoff, my balcony is small and I just have enough space for playing, but as an integrated part of everybody's different ways of applauding," he says.

"I am happy that positive things are being achieved with these small gestures. For me, it is a humble gesture of appreciation for frontline healthcare workers."

Updated: April 1, 2020 11:23 AM

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