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By Antoine du Rocher

NEW YORK, 26 FEBRUARY 2010 — Yesterday, the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) announced that American jazz master and composer Wynton Marsalis will perform on 5 April at the Emirates Palace as part of the Abu Dhabi Festival 2010. The nine time Grammy Award winner and artistic / music director of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, will join a festival lineup that includes other distinguished musicians such as conductor Sir Colin Davis, oud virtuoso Naseer Shamma, pianists Wayne Marshall and Yundi Li and the London Symphony Orchestra among others.

As incredible as it may seem, but nonetheless true, Mr. Marsalis will be making his debut in the Arab World. Commenting on his participation in the wealthy oil emirate's arts festival, Mr. Marsalis said: "My career has spanned over thirty years, and in that time I have had the pleasure of performing in more venues than I can count, working with legions of uniquely talented musicians, and teaching an incalculable number of students. The Middle East is one of the few areas of the world that I have never visited before, and I’m delighted to be joining a long list of great names at the Abu Dhabi Festival 2010. Jazz encourages us to tell our unique story and teaches us how to create a collective story with others. The music expresses the depth and power of our collective humanity. The core requirements for jazz are creativity, communication and community, and it seems to me that these values are expressed wholeheartedly by the Abu Dhabi Festival."

Wynton Marsalis
Photo: Frank Stewart

In addition to his performance as part of the main festival, Mr. Marsalis will also take part in the festival’s education program by holding a jazz workshop with the students of the UAE University in Al Ain.

Born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1961, Mr. Marsalis was immersed in the musical tradition of his hometown throughout his childhood. He received his music education at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York, and then joined the legendary "finishing school in jazz," Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. By the age of 20, Mr. Marsalis had already formed his own band and started touring the world performing more than 120 concerts a year for 20 consecutive years.

Equally accomplished and respected as a classical trumpet virtuoso, Mr. Marsalis has performed with leading orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, English Chamber Orchestra and London’s Royal Philharmonic. Wynton holds the distinction of being the only artist to ever win GRAMMY® Awards for both jazz and classical records in five consecutive years and is the first jazz musician to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music. He has co-founded Jazz at Lincoln Center — the world’s first and foremost institution dedicated to jazz education and performance.

As a composer, Wynton Marsalis received commissions for Peter Martins at the New York City Ballet, Twyla Tharp for the American Ballet Theatre, Judith Jamison at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

In 2006, Mr. Marsalis was instrumental in The Higher Ground Hurricane Relief concert produced by Jazz at Lincoln Center and has raised over $2 million for relief efforts.

In its seventh edition and held under the patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the festival brings together artists from both Western and Eastern artistic traditions and features music and ballet performances, theatre, educational programmes, an art exhibition and gala events — more than 90 performances and events over a period of three weeks.

The festival runs from 20 March to 7 April 2010 and events will primarily be hosted at the Emirates Palace. Part of the proceeds will go to the Ewaa Shelter for Women and Children.

Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Festival

Antoine du Rocher is Managing Editor of Culturekiosque.

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