It’s back: the annual Abu Dhabi Festival is upon us once more. And, yes, as always, it’s bigger, better, bolder than ever before. Sure, we say that every year. But this time it really, truly, is the most ambitious edition ever. Why? Well, in celebration of the Year of Zayed, the festival marks 100 years since the birth of United Arab Emirates founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. So, not surprisingly, the programming has been supercharged. Here’s our round-up of the don’t-miss events.
14 March, Emirates Palace Auditorium
A world premiere of Emirati composer Ihab Darwish’s long-awaited classic-contemporary composition Waves of My Life performed by the Beethoven Academy Orchestra. Stoyan Stoyanov conducts.
19 March, Emirates Palace Auditorium
Pioneer of the so-called Indian “New Dance”, Tanusree Shankar Dance Academy presents a modern, emotional, high-energy update of classical Indian dance with a performance based on 13th-century Sufi poet Rumi’s Human Being.
22–23 March, Umm Al Emarat Park
A two-night, after-dark live music party in leafy Umm Al Emarat Park sees performances from inventive Indian folk outfit The Raghu Dixit Project and Egyptian neo-classical marimba star Nesma Abdel Aziz. Arab multimedia forward-thinker Zahed Sultan also presents a spectacular Khaleeji-based audio-visual showstopper, Hiwar.
24 March, Emirates Palace Auditorium
Making their Middle East debut, two of Philip Glass’s closest collaborators, Dennis Russell Davies and Maki Namekawa, perform in multimedia interpretations of the American minimalist composer’s Four Movements for Two Pianos, as well as Steve Reich’s Piano Phase and Maurice Ravel’s Mother Goose.
29–30 March, Emirates Palace Auditorium
In this ballet interpretation of Cervantes’ classic fable, Spain’s Compañía Nacional de Danza sets the stage alight at the Abu Dhabi Festival with flamenco ensembles, polished pirouettes and flowery Franco-Russian choreography.