Mohamed Abdo, Wynton Marsalis and Yo-Yo Ma to play Abu Dhabi Festival 2017
Saudi singer Mohamed Abdo, jazz virtuoso Wynton Marsalis and cello sensation Yo-Yo Ma are among the high profile names who will perform at the 2017 Abu Dhabi Festival.
The capital’s annual arts showcase, which will run from March 1 to 31, continues to tread new ground as it moves into its 14th year, with an ever-broadening programme of increasingly global sounds.
The 2017 programme includes sonic strides into flamenco, with Spanish guitarist Tomatito, and Portuguese fado, from celebrated singer Mariza. Marsalis and Yo-Yo Ma, like Abdo, are both stars of their own distinct, disparate genres.
The festival’s classical backbone, meanwhile, is in typically good shape. It includes a visit from performers from London’s Royal Opera House, plus a two-night stay from China’s renowned National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra.
Hoda Ibrahim Al Khamis Kanoo, the founder of Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation, announced the programme at Emirates Palace on November 3, revealing that the theme for this year’s festival is Culture and Tolerance.
“We aim for a festival that is not an ivory tower or a bubble but one that is in dialogue with the world,” she said.
“And in such troubled times, reaffirming the fact that our main concern, culture, is a vehicle for tolerance seems appropriate. More importantly, in its showcase of leading artists from the region, and from the world, we have chosen this year to concentrate on people whose work and concerns are closely linked to the notion of tolerance.”
Saudi Arabia was named as this year’s country of honour, and the festival opens symbolically with Abdo, a performer well known as “The Artist of Arabs”. The Saudi singer will perform a special themed programme entitled One Moonlit Evening, at Emirates Palace on March 14.
The life of the world’s best-known composer will be examined in Mozart & Son, a stage production that arrives straight from London’s Royal Opera House. A raft of actors, musicians and opera singers from the historic Covent Garden venue will take to the stage at Emirates Palace on March 17.
The entertainment shifts to NYU Abu Dhabi’s Arts Centre on March 23, for a performance by Spanish guitarist Tomatito, a five-time Grammy nominee known for blending jazz, gypsy, Brazilian and even Turkish influences into his blend of “nouveau flamenco”.
In a return to the festival’s classical core, conductor Yi Zhang will lead China’s National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra through two concerts at Emirates Palace, on March 24 and 25. The first night will feature two of the most celebrated masterpieces of classical music.
The first of Dvorák’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, which is often referred to as the “New World Symphony” and was composed after the Czech composer emigrated to the United States.
On the same evening Chinese pianist Haochen Zhang is the soloist tasked with Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No.2, arguably the Russian pianist’s best-known work, and familiar for numerous appearances in movies, including Brief Encounter and The Seven Year Itch.
March 27 marks the very welcome return of Wynton Marsalis, the trumpet traditionalist who ranks among the best-known jazz musicians of his generation. A sell-out attraction at the festival in 2010, the American musician will be backed by his razor-sharp ensemble.
Fado singer Mariza will take to the stage on March 29.
Closing the main programme will be celebrated Chinese-American cellist Yo-Yo Ma, performing alongside long-term collaborators The Silk Road Ensemble to present a programme taking in musical traditions from along the historic trade route.
The 2017 programme also features the return of the Festival Recital Series, a more intimate showcase of upcoming virtuosos, again hosted by The Arts Centre at NYU Abu Dhabi.
Performing first, on March 18, will be Juan Pérez Floristán, a Spanish classical pianist who last year won the influential Paloma O’Shea Santander International Piano Competition.
The following day, Lebanese musician Tarek Yamani – a Dubai-based pianist renowned for blurring Arabic traditions into a contemporary jazz setting – will present a brand new work, commissioned by Abu Dhabi Festival. Entitled Portraits in Khaleeji Rhythms and Jazz, the premiere will take place on March 19.
“It has now become a long tradition of the Abu Dhabi Festival to commission works that explore exchange and tolerance,” added Hoda.
“ADMAF and the Festival has kept with its efforts to explore the connections between the strong musical heritage of the Arab World and other forms of musical expression.”
For more information and tickets, visit www.abudhabifestival.ae
Updated: November 3, 2016 04:00 AM