Expo 2020 Dubai has released an exclusive video showing the Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman’s all-women ensemble, Firdaus Orchestra, performing for the first time on Wednesday
With just a week to go before doors open to the world’s greatest cultural gathering, the footage highlights the artistic prowess of the 50 musicians from across the Arab world, as they prepare to debut a fusion of styles and genres at Expo 2020 next month.
Starting from 23 October, the concerts will also feature works composed by A.R. Rahman for the orchestra’s inaugural performance on the global stage.
Celebrating the region’s culture and diversity, Expo 2020’s in-house orchestra, which has appointed Yasmina Sabbah as its conductor, is made up of intermediate to semi-professional musicians of 23 nationalities and ages ranging from 16 to 51, demonstrating how music is accessible to and for everyone.
A.R. Rahman said: "It’s been an honour and privilege to have founded and mentored the Firdaus Orchestra for Expo 2020 Dubai. This ensemble has a very unique character as it’s symbolic of our changing world and evolution in music, particularly in the Middle East. The voices of the Firdaus Orchestra, comprising of artists from more than 23 nationalities across the region, are so different from anything we’ve heard in the West or the East; they represent a whole new sound which is very exciting. This has been a dear project for me and I’m grateful to Reem Al Hashimy whose support and guidance have made this extraordinary ensemble possible. I’m proud to say that the Firdaus Orchestra is a world-class collective of musicians. Witness their artistry at the Expo 2020 Dubai.”
Noura Sulaiman, Official Spokesperson, Firdaus Orchestra, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “It's really exciting to be part of the Firdaus Orchestra team, and see female musicians from across the Arab world come together to collaborate and be empowered in this inspiring journey to Expo 2020 and beyond.
"As an Emirati musician, I feel honoured to be working with A. R. Rahman and to be part of the most diverse World Expo ever. Expo 2020 presents a one-of-a-kind opportunity for millions of visitors from around the world to discover the region's culture and creative talent."
Yasmina Sabbah, Conductor of Firdaus Orchestra, said: “It is in our mission to break the stereotype of women in the region by bringing together inspiring musicians and blending our cultures and passion to create a unique sound: the voice of the Firdaus Orchestra.”
Arial Azarian, Firdaus Orchestra musician, said: “Being in a professional orchestra is a dream come true, and the fact that it's at Expo with an all-female group is just out of this world and it's a privilege, and I'm just really excited to be a part of this. It's life changing.”