x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Coldplay, Brown and Little bring music to the ears

There's a lot for teenagers to be excited about nowadays in the UAE, what with the galaxy of music superstars swarming all over the place.

'Oh. My. Days." Ginny breathed, holding out the advertisement with something akin to reverence, then let it slide slowly from her grip. She threw up her hands, slumped down on the chair, closed her eyes and looked, on the whole, as if she was suffering from a particularly bad bout of indigestion. I glanced at the advert. "Oh, that sounds nice." It featured Coldplay, the alternative rock band set to win hearts in Abu Dhabi on New Year's Eve.

"Nice!" her eyes flew open dramatically. The indigestion-chic look was more pronounced than ever. "This," a finger stabbed the paper vindictively with a French manicured talon, "isn't nice. It is above being described as nice. It's beyond amazing. It's ... a sign. It's the most wonderful, wonderful thing that's ever happened to me, and that's counting the time Martin Ivanovich actually spoke to me when he wanted me to pass him the burette in chemistry."

She paused to look at the "Martin + Gina" etched in a heart at the back of a book. "Bless him," she added fondly.

There's certainly a lot for teenagers to be excited about nowadays in the UAE, what with the galaxy of stars swarming all over the place. Coldplay tickets are being snapped up among people at school like Spinneys' rocky road cookies on bake-sale days, and there's a palpable sense of excitement in the air about their arrival.

There was a palpable sense of excitement that day anyway, as Gina careered around singing Viva La Vida at the top of her voice, and when she'd calmed down, took to blurting out things like "We used to rule the world!" at sporadic intervals, looking extraordinarily pleased with herself.

Coldplay aren't the only ones wreaking havoc with teenagers' clearheadedness at the moment. On Friday, Sade will join the influx of celebrities at Yas Arena this month. By the time this goes to print, Chris Brown would have stopped over at Dubai Festival City to meet hundreds of screaming fans composed mainly of lovesick teenagers. I doubt anyone will be able to escape the dreamy-eyed conversations that will succeed his visit. We'll probably have a good few weeks to look forward to where hormonal girls who "went" profess their love and gasp about how Brown actually made eye contact with them once. The fever has reached a point where the question "Are you going?" is automatically understood to translate as "Are you going to the Chris Brown concert?"

And while we may have welcomed many artists who cater to popular appeal, the UAE is also asserting itself as a hot-spot when it comes to the classical music scene. Last week, our school was lucky enough to host the renowned violinist Tasmin Little on tour in Dubai and also performing in the Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre (Ductac). Although her fluid, virtuosic playing is well known among musicians, we hadn't quite bargained for the magnetic personality, the carefree chatting and repeatedly being told what a very nice audience we made. Rapid-fire questions - from both sides of the stage - ensued, ranging from what we thought of her playing, to when Bach was born, and how old we thought her violin was. For the record, it was created when Mozart was one year old, "still in his nappies", as Little put it, which is a thought.

We were treated to some spectacular pieces, highlights of which included a gavotte by Bach and Spring from Vivaldi's Four Seasons. There were even some stories and anecdotes thrown in to keep the whole experience as interactive as she could make it, a brave thing for a classical musician to do while performing for a bunch of fidgety teenagers.

"I was performing standing on a boat moored to a riverbank once," she recounted, "And I was losing my audience's interest, which is the worst thing a performer could experience. They kept pointing to something behind me, so I turned my head slowly to see what it was, still playing." What met her eyes was, wait for it, a massive hippopotamus wallowing in the water, staring her in the face.

She got the shock of her life - nevertheless, a musician's got to do what a musician's got to do, and steeling herself, she finished the Bach, at which point the hippo sank down into the river again. "Lesson is," shrugged Ms Little, "that anyone can enjoy classical music!"

The writer is a 16-year-old student in Dubai

 

artslife@thenational.ae