Abu Dhabi Classics

Organised by Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority launches new Abu Dhabi Classics programme
Oct 2014 – May 2015

The New 2014/2015 Season: Travelling through Music

Keeping the tradition, that was translated during the last five years, Abu Dhabi Classics returns, bringing some of the most prominent musical talent and orchestras to the emirate. Abu Dhabi Classics is a concert season reflecting the excellence that the emirate has achieved in the field of culture. 

The 2014-2015 season is dedicated to the figure of the traveller, offering a wide range of musical explorations. Featuring prestigious ensembles such as the world leading Staatskapelle Dresden conducted by their star conductor Christian Thielemann or the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, as well as renowned artists such as Grammy Award Winner Jordi Savall, exceptional young concert pianists Khatia Buniatishvili and David Fray, Oud virtuoso Nasser Shamma and the acclaimed Emirati Oud Master Faisal Al Saari, alongside today’s leading violinists Gidon Kremer and James Ehnes, this season will highlight the finest classical music from East and West. 

The season will also focus on the significant role of education and knowledge transfer in the field of music with artists visiting schools and universities in Abu Dhabi to encourage passionate and artistic young generations. Complemented by conferences and pre-concert talks on the wide subject of classical music and on the different composers whose pieces will be played, Abu Dhabi Classics season will present a unique and holistic experience allowing everyone to explore and enjoy the magic and diversity of the classical music universe. 

The season’s many highlights season include, on 20 November 2014, the world premiere of the new concert by Spanish conductor Jordi Savall, dedicated to the figure of the famous Arabic traveller Ibn Battuta. Introducing an international cast of musicians playing predominantly Arabic instruments such as the Kanun, Rebab, Oud or Percussions, this concert will allow the public to travel back in time and discover the mysterious Middle Ages and bring together the musical traditions from Orient and Occident.

On 15 and 16 of December 2014, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, one of Britain’s most innovative ensembles, will perform a modern classical programme built around British composers (Britten and Elgar), and in Al Ain a thrilling film music programme, highlighting the art of John Williams, who wrote the film scores for Star Wars and Harry Potter. 

Welcoming the beginning of 2015, the young and critically-acclaimed piano star Khatia Buniatishvili will perform on 7 January 2015 a solo recital inspired by her new album, Motherland. As part of the programme, TCA Abu Dhabi will present from 21 till 24 January 2015, the UAE’s first international Oud festival with the leading Oud school Bait Al Oud. In February 2015, the Staatskapelle Dresden, voted Orchestra of the year in 2013, will be entertaining Abu Dhabi and Al Ain with its unique sound and programme including Bruckner’s 9th Symphony and Strauss’ A Hero’s Life.

Abu Dhabi Classics will also host, for its October 14th opening, the young French prodigy Lydie Solomon with a piano recital dedicated to Chopin’s travels and will include the mesmerising Gidon Kremer with his Kremerata Baltica Orchestra on 28 October, the Orchestra from the Scala Academy in Milan for one symphonic concert conducted by Mikhail Tatarnikov and an Italian Opera evening conducted by Giuseppe Finzi on 28 and 29 April 2015, as well as the artists in residence programme. 

A stunning season finale will take place in May 2015 during which the newly created TCA Abu Dhabi Classics Music Awards will be given for the first time to leading international talent!

The events will take place in different venues: Emirates Palace Auditorium, Manarat Al Saadiyat Auditorium, Abu Dhabi Theatre, Al Jahili Fort and some important historic sites in Al Ain.

*All timings are actual start timings. We recommend guests to come 30 min before the beginning of the concert to find their seats. Doors will close at the start time. No access will be granted after the doors have been shut.

Tickets are on sale now on ticketmaster.ae

date and time

Tue, Oct 14, 2014 - Thu, May 28, 2015

event location

Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi

contact info

Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi
Tel: 800-555

Events map

Stars of the Season

Gidon Kremer

Born in 1947, Gidon Kremer has been ranked for decades as one of the world’s outstanding violinists. Kremer, who grew up in Latvia, has been awarded numerous prizes since he was young. One of the most important prizes was the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1970, a performance that led conductor Herbert von Karajan to call him “the greatest violinist in the world”. Kremer has always risked his career, especially during the soviet regime by promoting music of modern composers such as Alfred Schnittke or Arvo Pärt. One of Kremer's other great interests is the work of the Argentinian tango composer Astor Piazzolla, which led to many recordings over the last years. His passion for new compositions will also be reflected in his concert in Abu Dhabi, during which he will play Philipp Glass’ Violin Concerto Nr. 2. Gidon Kremer plays a Nicola Amati violin, dated from 1641. He is also the author of four books, translated into many languages, which reflect his artistic pursuits.

Jordi Savall

Jordi Savall is one of the world’s most diverse artists who mainly worked on ancient music from all around the world. He is a viol (viola da gamba) and rebab player and a conductor. Savall is a key  advocate of ancient music and a prominent researcher in this field. With his wife Montserrat Figueras, he founded the musical ensemble Hesperion XXI that employs historical instruments. He has received numerous prizes and is considered one of the main interpreters of music’s vast cultural diversity. A lifelong researcher and initiator of new cultural and musical projects, Jordi Savall has created a concert around the voyages of Ibn Battuta in the 14th century especially for Abu Dhabi. 

James Ehnes

Born in 1976 in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada, James is considered one of the leading violinists of his generation. Gifted with a rare combination of stunning virtuosity, serene lyricism and an unfaltering musicality, Ehnes is a favourite guest of many of the world’s most respected Conductors, including Ashkenazy, Alsop, Sir Andrew Davis, Dutoit, Ivan Fischer, Paavo Järvi, Maazel, Noseda, Robertson and Runnicles. The long list of orchestras Ehnes performed with includes the Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, New York, London Symphony, Philharmonia, BBC Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, DSO Berlin and the NHK Symphony. The piece Ehnes will play in Abu Dhabi, Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto Nr.1, ranks among the most difficult violin pieces ever written. James Ehnes plays the ‘Marsick’ Stradivarius of 1715.

Khatia Buniatishvili

Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, in 1987, Khatia was introduced to the piano by her mother. Her talent was soon recognised when and she made her orchestral debut at the age of six. In 2003, she won the special prize of the Horowitz Piano Competition in Kiev, and the first prize of the Elizabeth Leonskaya Scholarship. Khatia does consider herself a ‘Wunderkind’ but tries to learn as much as she can from past major pianists like Sergej Rachmaninoff, Svjatoslav Richter and Glenn Gould. Together with her great models, the Argentinean pianist Martha Argerich and the Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer, she appeared at many prestigious festivals including Verbier Festival. Her warm, sometimes elegiac, musical expression has often been linked to her Georgian folk-music roots. Critics emphasise that her playing has an aura of elegant solitude and even melancholy, which she does not feel to be a negative attribute. “The piano is the blackest instrument,” she says, a “symbol of musical solitude”, which even a pianist must become accustomed to. “I have to be psychologically strong and forget the hall if I want to share it with the audience.”

Christian Thielemann

Viewed as the heir of conductors like Karajan or Kleiber, Christian began his professional career in 1978 as a rehearsal pianist at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin. Following positions in Gelsenkirchen, Karlsruhe, Hanover and the Rhine Opera in Düsseldorf, he became, in 1988, Germany’s youngest Generalmusikdirektor in Nuremberg, before returning to the Deutsche Oper in Berlin in 1997, holding the position of music director for seven years. From 2004 to 2011, he held the same post at the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, before being appointed as principal conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden for the 2012/13 season. For the F.A.Z. newspaper, he has, since then, inspired the musicians of this “famed miraculous harp to new musical heights“.  Thielemann is particularly recognised around the world for his brilliant readings of German romantic music, both in opera and on the concert stage. As one of the world’s foremost Wagner conductors, Thielemann gave his Bayreuth debut in 2000, and has since then returned year after year to produce definitive interpretations of Wagnerian opera. For his work on Richard Strauss’ Die Frau ohne Schatten at the Salzburg Festival of 2011, Thielemann was voted “Conductor of the Year” by the Opernwelt-magazine. He holds the position of artistic director of the Salzburg Easter Festival since 2013. Thielemann is also an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music in London, and holds honorary doctorates from the Franz Liszt College of Music in Weimar and the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.

Abu Dhabi Classics events

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