The orchestra. Image Credit: Supplied

If you think a community orchestra is made up of tawdry, boorish players, you are in for a pleasant jolt. The NSO Symphony Orchestra, which twins UAE-based talent and world-famous repertoires, takes the stage at the Emirates Palace on February 8, and it’s got an in-tune agenda lined up.

Ahead of the show, Gulf News tabloid! spoke to NSO founder Janet Hassouneh who calls the weekend starter a ‘mini-festival’ full of first-time-ever moments. Here are five things you need to know about the line-up.

UAE-based ballerina Namuun Batsukh.

1. There is free seating: So show up a bit earlier than the 7.30pm slated for the performance. The only thing you need to take into consideration: Find the right category before shuffling in.

2. There’s music, dance and drama: For the first time in NSO’s eight-year history, a UAE-based ballerina, Namuun Batsukh, is taking to the stage. “[We have the] UAE premiere [of] a standard repertoire piece from the Bolshoi ballet in Moscow, and that’s from the [Aram] Khachaturian Spartacus ballet. And there’s a very, very famous solo from the sixth movement of the piece called ‘Adagio’ [that we’ll be showcasing],” says Hassouneh. Fun fact: Khachaturian, who won the Lenin Prize in 1954, composed music for the ballet at age 50.

3. New songs meet old favourites: “To round off the concert, we are playing a piece that we played in our inaugural concert way back when we started eight years ago: the last two [movements from] Pictures from an Exhibition [Mussorgsky]. And we are doing the last two movements of the piece, just because we love them,” says Hassouneh. The music here is paired with paintings by Emirati artists that are laid out across the venue. This is nothing if not a 3D show.

Nadine Artuhanava

4. Russian dancers will be gliding on the stage as well, in another first. “Eight of these Russian folk dancers who will come out dressed in traditional costume, they are doing a very traditional song called ‘Ochi Chernye’ [Dark Eyes]. What we’ll do is put the words of the song in Russian and in phonetics so if people want to have a go at it, they can,” she adds. This popular number has been sung by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong. “For the Russian community this is somewhat of a tear jerker moment; it’s a beloved song,” explains Hassouneh.

5. This the 55-piece orchestra sang with Andrea Bocelli in Saudi Arabia’s first ‘Winter at Tanoura’ concert, held in Al Ula last week. Hassouneh says, “Community orchestras rehearse every week, because it takes time for them to learn the piece. This orchestra they do two rehearsals and they do the concert.”

Don’t miss it!

Tickets to NSO’s Russian Symphonic Classics at Emirates Palace on February 8 start at Dh150.