Rousing start to Abu Dhabi Festival – My Letters – GULF NEWS Dt. 21 March 2012
Anoushka Shankar’s performance sets the tone for truly global celebration of art and culture
Published: 00:00 March 21, 2012
Abu Dhabi: The seventh edition of the Abu Dhabi Festival was inaugurated at a special ceremony at the Emirates Palace Hotel attended by dignitaries, guests and members of the public, on Monday.
Iraqi artist Hassan Massoudy’s specially commissioned calligraphy exhibition ‘Gestures of Light’ was the highlight of the evening’s programme along with a performance by internationally renowned musician Anoushka Shankar, who is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading sitar players, and the only artist to be trained exclusively by her father, the legendary Ravi Shankar.
“Every year we aim to showcase the diversity of the world’s artists and genres by bringing a taste of global music and performances to the nation’s capital. With Anoushka’s involvement in this year’s festival, we broke new ground with her mesmerising young talent renowned the world over and set a new bar for future performances,” said Hoda Al Khamis Kanoo, founder and artistic director of the Abu Dhabi Festival.
Additionally, outstanding Emirati students from the UAE University, Zayed University and the Higher Colleges of Technology were recognised for their participation in initiatives supported by the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation.
They included the Young Media Leaders programme, which provides training for careers in the media and the Theatre-in-Education (Tie) programme, a series of workshops led by the City University of New York’s creative arts team.
The festival also presented a lifetime achievement award posthumously to Dr Walid Gholmieh, a prominent conductor, composer, scholar and activist for western classical music in the Middle East, and a defining influence in Lebanon’s classical landscape. The 27-day event, which will end on April 6, includes 168 cultural and artistic events across the UAE.
My comments as follows:
The opening ceremony of Abu Dhabi Festival along with Anoushka Shankar’s performance created an everlasting memory. An impressive array of dignitaries joining HE Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan were present to recognise outstanding Emirati students from the UAE University, Zayed University and the Higher Colleges of Technology for their participation in initiatives supported by the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation.
It was a moment of joy for all those who actively involved in the Young Media Leaders programme. Lifetime achievement awarded posthumously to Dr Walid Gholmieh created the perfect platform for a scintillating two hour two session of music by Anoushka Shankar and her team of musicians.
The performance was harmoniously blended with the artists complementing each other on traditional Indian and Spanish musical instruments and music.
The theme Traveller turned out to be perfect as the rhythm and mood created a gypsy feelings in audience mind. I could relate the proud sense of watching her perform live at Abu Dhabi when after the programmes some of the guests leaving the auditorium mentioned, I watched her dad perform 40 years ago in New York and now her here in Abu Dhabi. Both bring the same sweet smile, calmness and ease of quality music out when they sit to perform.
Wish the programme was made available for a wider range of audience for view outside the auditorium through giant screens placed at various points in Abu Dhabi Corniche. In addition, after each show photo session of the artists performed on stage should also be allowed.
Hope Abu Dhabi Festival organisers will consider this aspect for the future shows. The name and fame of Abu Dhabi Festival should reach a wider section of population.
Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
To see a similar performance held elsewhere, please watch this video. It was almost the same or better.
To read it in original, please visit GULF NEWS online.
To see photos of the event clicked by me, please visit and view the album in the link below: