Fans of European classical music were captivated by I-Musici Fiamminghi, a celebrated orchestra from Belgium, performing here at the 7th Al Ain Music Festival. The festival marked the 50th anniversary of the European Union (EU).
Oasis in the desert
Playing the works of classical and contemporary maestros, the ensemble enthralled the audience at the traditional Arabian setting here in the courtyard of the historic Al Jahili Fort. The festival, entitled The Oasis in Harmony, had several concerts.
I-Musici Fiamminghi literally means Flemish and refers to the musicians from Flanders, who took music to its peak in the Italian courts and chapels during the Renaissance.
In the opening concert, the orchestra played La Scala di Seta, composed by Gioachino Rossini, Maurice Revel's Le Tombeau de Couperin , Manuel de Falla's El Amor Brujo, Bela Bartok's Hungarian Dances and Franz Schubert's Symphony No 6.
During the recital concert held on March 2, the orchestra performed Beethoven's Geister Trio and A. Dvorak's Piano Quintet.
During the gala concert, also held on March 2, the orchestra performed three Flemish dances by Gabriel Verschraegen, Concerto for Piano by Chopin and Beethoven's Symphony No 7.
At the concluding concert held on March 3, the I-Musici Fiamminghi played Trio in D composed by F. Mendelssohn, and Die Forelle Quintet by F. Schubert.
Speaking on the occasion, Jurgen Steltzer, German Ambassador to the UAE, said the Al Ain Music Festival was a part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the EU that would continue through the month in different emirates.
“We are enthralled by the performance of the orchestra and the unique settings of the concert in the historic Al Ain city,'' he said.
Paolo Dionisi, Ambassador of Italy to the UAE, said the festival was the first event of the celebrations and has attracted a large number of people from all over the emirates.
“We have succeeded in attracting young people to classical music festival that is an important cultural experience at a wonderful place and settings,'' he added.
Music from around the world
I-Musici Fiamminghi performed several concerts at Al Jahili Fort, under the direction of Rudolph Werthen.
The famous Cairo Opera ensemble, including 10 soloists, performed on the last day of the festival.
The classical Arab concert performed, at the auditorium of Al Ain Municipality, to celebrate the long-standing cultural ties between Europe and the Arab world.
The Belgian orchestra had 35 musicians and their incomparable warm sonority and rich sound mesmerised the audience with a variety of compositions from different member countries of the European Union.
Putting Al Ain on the map
The Al Ain Classical Music Festival is an annual event of the Abu Dhabi Concert Committee, held under the patronage of its President, Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minster of Foreign Affairs. The festival brings in famous European orchestras to perform against the city's charming settings in order to promote cultural tourism in Al Ain.
The festival was jointly organised from March 1 to 3 by the Abu Dhabi Concert Committee, Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and the Abu Dhabi Authority for Tourism.
The opening concert was held on Thursday night and attended by the ambassadors of five EU countries — Germany, Italy, Austria, France and Belgium — and a number of UAE and foreign dignitaries.
Zaki Nusseibeh, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Music Committee, said: “The combination of high quality concerts and the charms of the historical city of Al Ain create a unique atmosphere for music lovers.''