A.R Rahman Image Credit: AFP

Oscar-winning Indian composer AR Rahman will spearhead a nation-wide talent hunt for an all-women orchestra during Expo 2020 Dubai and create a state-of-the-art studio called ‘Firdaus Studio’ that will be functional even after the momentous world show ends.

“It’s a great opportunity to have something like this. This is a great statement from this country which stands for unity, progress, co-existence and all things that humanity is wishing for,” said Rahman to Gulf News tabloid in an interview on February 27.

Auditions for the all-women orchestra will be held to distil talents of women from varied backgrounds and ages and a golden chance to be mentored by Rahman is also on the cards. 100 face to face auditions will be whittled down to 50 participants for the all-women orchestra.

The celebrated musician visited the Expo 2020 site office on Thursday and met with the local media swiftly to discuss his plans ahead for Expo 2020, an event that will celebrate human brilliance and achievement and connect people from different corners of the world.

At the time of the announcement, India’s capital city Delhi was being rocked by riots between protesters for and against a controversial citizenship law in India. Rahman’s grand plans for Expo 2020 Dubai was a testament to the UAE’s multi-cultural social fabric.

“It’s like a statement from this country. This country stands for unity, progress, co-existence and all thing that humanity is wishing for right now. The aspiration is to exchange and give ideas and probably show the world how to be together, especially in this divisive world,” said Rahman.

He described the UAE, a country that has hosted him multiple times for spectacular shows, as a place of ‘hope’.

“We are in a Muslim country and it’s a place of hope and opportunity and dreams where people can come in and they embrace you. That aspect has fascinated me. I am proud and happy to be a part of it,” said Rahman.

Asked why the auditions and orchestra was gender-specific and limited to women, the music maestro said he was eager to take one for the women’s team around the globe.

“There’s a narrative about Middle Eastern women and coming from them there will be this whole new shouting out loud that — ‘look at our women playing’. It’s not just them, but we are embracing everybody and there’s a multi-cultural orchestra coming together like a two-tie,” said Rahman.

For the last six months, this high-profile, world-renowned composer has been bouncing off ideas for his ‘The Firdaus Studio by AR Rahman’.

“We are also building a studio called the Firdaus Studio and Labs where we will be recording music, posting it on our Facebook Live and we will be making albums there. This studio is open for guests abroad to come and use the orchestra and our studio,” said Rahman.

Rahman is one of India’s most influential musicians and has a burgeoning trophy cabinet filled with two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe and four Indian National Film Awards.

His involvement isn’t limited to all-women orchestra either. Workshops for children to display and teach how music is made in a studio — from its conception to recording — will also be held, said AR Rahman.

“Expo 2020 Dubai is the most fascinating thing that I have worked in the last 20 years because here you have almost 200 pavilions and the whole world will be here. So it’s a great opportunity to have something like this … The aspiration is to exchange and give ideas and probably show the world how to be together, especially in this divisive world,” said Rahman. He added that the UAE reminded him of a ‘whole new India’.

“I see a whole new India here and I see how joy there is when I do shows here. I feel this whole energy of satisfying people. This is a place of beauty and hope. So I am proud to be a part of Expo 2020 Dubai,” said Rahman.

How to audition:

You can apply to be a part of the auditions for the all-women orchestra, mentored by Rahman, until March 23, 2020. Musicians can apply by sending through a video and registration is now open through the following link: https://www.expo2020dubai.com/en/discover/attractions/firdaus-orchestra

What’s Expo 2020 Dubai:

Expo 2020 Dubai will host the world for 173 days. It’ll be a time to create, collaborate and innovate.

Did you know?

The world class music recording studio The Firdaus Studio by AR Rahman will be launched at Expo that will become a permanent facility as part of its legacy plans in the future city of District 2020 — and the first project to make use of the studio will be Expo 2020’s all-female orchestra.

The Firdaus Studio by AR Rahman and the orchestra are both part of ambitious plans to push Dubai and the UAE as an international hub for music recording and score production, further expanding the city’s important role as a cultural centre where people of all nationalities come together to work and live together