It’s history in the making as the Abu Dhabi Festival preps for a musical stage that will stretch across the globe and connect 128 musicians in a never before seen symphony performance led by an Emirati composer.
As part of the year-long hybrid virtual programme, under the theme The Future Starts Now, ‘Hekayat: Symphonic Tales’ will feature Emirati composer Ihab Darwish taking the lead to choreograph 13 compositions played by 128 musicians in 20 countries around the world on March 30.
This historical performance aims to capture the musical traditions and cultures of every continent. Hekayat, which means tales in English, makes history as the first performance of its kind by an Emirati artist. In a marvel of technological sophistication, the performers, recorded separately in their countries, will appear together as one orchestra on the stage of Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace Auditorium.
Darwish brings together a powerhouse group of international musicians, including Krakow’s acclaimed Beethoven Academy Orchestra, conducted by maestro Tomasz Tokarczyk, VOX Chamber Choir, tenor José Cura, virtuoso musicians Sara Andon, Kodō, Carlos Piñana and Kinan Azmeh.
With musicians, performers and the orchestra filmed individually in 21 cities around the world, the symphony required 675 zoom sessions and 86,600 man-hours of planning and production. The individual performances were synchronised digitally, and innovative post-production technology placed all 128 artists on a virtual 3D model of the stage.
“Ihab Darwish’s ‘Hekayat’ international premiere is an extraordinary global journey of symphonic music in which artists from all corners of the world come together in the composer’s universal message of peace and cultural understanding, that seamlessly aligns with Abu Dhabi Festival’s mission. Through innovative technology, Abu Dhabi Festival is thrilled to present its second commission of Ihab’s work as a unique virtual production to audiences globally,” Huda I. Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation and Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival, said in a statement.
“I am constantly experimenting with different genres, instruments, and time frames in music. The experimental nature of Hekayat is inspired by my inherent hope for a better future and belief in shared human values,” stated Darwish, adding: “Since my first engagement at Abu Dhabi Festival, the format of performances has been transformed by the pandemic, and yet music’s profound emotional impact and power to soothe are more important than ever. As a unique virtual event, Hekayat will be accessible to all audiences around the globe, which is a great advantage.”
Darwish is the first Emirati composer in his genre to have his music distributed by international publisher Universal Music MENA and first guest composer of the Beethoven Academy Orchestra. He specialises in composing classical music, featuring distinct Western, Arab and Khaleeji fusions, which has become his signature style. In ‘Hekayat’, he further develops this style with exceptionally unique instrumental, musical and vocal fusions.
The performance will be available on the Abu Dhabi Festival site from March 30 until April 11.