Abu Dhabi: The 20th edition of the Abu Dhabi Festival, held from March 1 to March 20, ended with tremendous success. The festival took place at the Emirates Palace, Cultural Foundation, and NYUAD and featured a wide range of captivating performances from some of the world’s most renowned artists, composers, tenors, musicians, and more.
The festival saw record-breaking attendance, with over 20,000 arts, culture, and music enthusiasts coming together to celebrate the power of the arts. The festival featured nine performances, with an additional 10 planned for later in 2023, making it the largest edition yet.
Under the theme “The Will for Evolution,” 2023 Festival cemented its position as one of the most significant and influential cultural events in the region. The festival expanded its reach and audience by partnering with the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi, resulting in a dynamic fusion of music and culture showcasing the festival’s ongoing commitment to promoting cultural exchange and diversity.
The festival ventured outside of its traditional venue, the Emirates Palace, and hosted its recital series at the NYUAD Arts Centre. This programme featured performances by the winner of the 2021 International Chopin Piano Competition, Mr. Bruce Liu, acclaimed Shanghainese pianist Mr. Haochen Zhang, and violin virtuoso Ms. Leia Zhu.
The festival kicked off on March 1st with a performance by Peruvian tenor Mr. Juan Diego Flórez, accompanied by an orchestra, featuring a programme of opera arias followed by Latin American songs. The festival also provided opportunities for young artists to showcase their talent, such as Emirati singer and rising star Mr. Rashed Al Nuaimi, who gave a spellbinding performance during the opening night.
Other highlights of the festival included the Middle East premiere of De Scheherazade a Yo, Carmen, where Ms. María Pagés transcended the legendary female character of Carmen in a mesmerising performance. The festival also featured the UAE debut of two-time Grammy Award-winning jazz musician Mr. Gregory Porter and the Middle East premiere of Buddha Passion by Ms. Tan Dun, a 95-minute oratorio illustrating six Buddha parables and stories.
The festival concluded with the world premiere of Mr. Pearl Diver’s Daughter, a collaboration between Emirati writer Ms. Maitha Al Khayat, Emirati composer Mr. Eman Al Hashimi, American contemporary dance group Company E, and Lebanese singer-songwriter Mayssa Karaa.
The Abu Dhabi Festival continues to promote cultural exchange and understanding and looks forward to inspiring and delighting audiences in future editions.