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Photo: Anna Netrebko
Courtesy of Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Festival

By Culturekiosque Staff

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, 5 MARCH 2008 - Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, the fifth annual Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Festival will take place from 22 March to 2 April 2008. Bringing together artists from both Western and Eastern artistic traditions to the wealthy oil emirate, the Festival features music and ballet performances, educational programmes, an art exhibition and gala events. The festival, which is to take place at the Emirates Palace Auditorium, is being presented by the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (ADMAF) and produced by IMG artists.

Although the fifth edition of the festival boasts leading international performing artists, the programming, notably those works chosen from the Western canon, is strictly conservative, almost dowdy. Perhaps for a future festival, the Emir might consider extending an invitation to the Simón Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela and its charismatic conductor Gustavo Dudamel. Not only can these gifted young musicians defend the Austro-German and Russian repertoire with considerably more passion and enthusiasm than their older European colleagues, but they travel with the music of Latin America whose origins are partially rooted in Spain, West Africa and the impact of medieval Islamic culture on the Iberian peninsula .

Performances of this year's festival include an opera gala featuring soprano Anna Netrebko, mezzo-soprano Elina Garança and bass-baritone Erwin Schrott; The London Philharmonic Orchestra will perform under its principal conductor Vladimir Jurowski, with violinist Nikolaj Znaider and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet; the Bolshoi Ballet and Orchestra will give two performances of their production of Swan Lake; violinist Sarah Chang performs Vivaldi's Four Seasons ; Lebanese composer and soprano Hiba Al Kawas premiering her original compositions with guitarist José Maria Gallardo del Rey in a cross cultural collaboration with the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra; the Iraqi Oud virtuoso Naseer Shamma will premiere eight of his new compositions with the specially formed 60-piece Oriental Orchestra.

An exhibition of work by Tunisian contemporary artist Nja Mahdaoui will run throughout the festival in the Emirates Palace.

In a press statement, the organizers said that an iconic arts festival is a critical element in building Abu Dhabi's cultural reputation in conjunction with its long-term infrastructure planning for Al Saadiyat Island, which includes future Louvre and Guggenheim museums and a performing arts centre designed by Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid.

Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Festival
22 March to 2 April 2008

Editor's Travel Calendar Tips: Abu Dhabi

The Arts of Islam: Treasures from the Nasser D Khalili Collection
On view until 30 April 2008

Saechsische Staatskapelle Dresden (Saxony's state orchestra):
all-Wagner concert
8 March 2008 at the Emirates Palace Auditorium

Abu Dhabi International Book Fair
11 - 16 March 2008

St. Petersburg, Russia
In Palaces and Tents: The Islamic World from China to Europe
On view at The State Hermitage Museum through 7 September 2008

Dearborn, Michigan, USA
Silver Speaks: Traditional Jewelry of the Middle East
On view at the Arab American National Museum until 30 March 2008

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