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“The harp can sound like a whole orchestra,” says French harpist Xavier de Maistre ahead of his show in the UAE’s capital as part of Abu Dhabi Classics.

The harpist, who performs on December 6 at Manarat Al Saadiyat on Saadiyat Island and on December 7 at the Bin Hamoodah Fort in Al Ain, is quick to pronounce his instrument dynamic. He says it’ll make for a pleasant surprise for his music-loving audience.

“Many people in Abu Dhabi have not listed to a solo harpist, I thought. So they can experience the whole range of colours/dynamics that is possible on the harp…much more than they can imagine.

“I think they will be quite surprised about how wide the range of colours can be,” he tells Gulf News tabloid!

It’s an instrument that has riveted his home country, France, for decades but the tradition of the harp has been absent in other countries. Now, however, says de Maistre, interest is picking up. “Now you find a lot of harpists in [various parts of the world including] Japan, China, Taiwan…all over the world…I think in 10-20 years from now things will be very different.”

And helping push that agenda a bit forward, the award-winner is showing listeners what’s possible.

To Abu Dhabi, he brings a set list that dances with Spanish rhythms before taking a bow with classical melodies including by French composers Debussy and Faure. “I have a lot of Spanish music, because my last album is about Spanish music. There are some very soft romantic pieces, some rhythmical dancing songs and then I picked some standard[s]… lots of different styles, but very easy-to-listen [to]. And many songs people already know, [just] in a different setting.”

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Don’t miss it!

Tickets to the Abu Dhabi Classics, organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi, start at Dh50.