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Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation launch this year’s unprecedented Festival line-up with fanfare at Emirates Palace

Abu Dhabi Festival 2011 Launch 31st Jan 2011

Cream of the World’s classical musicians, singers and artists to attend 2011 Abu Dhabi Festival

March 19th – April 7th 2011

The Abu Dhabi Festival will present a programme drawing together a prestigious line-up of world-renowned performers from across the world for this year’s event, according to Festival organisers, Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation. With a programme combining music, art, dance, jazz, ballet and fine arts, the Festival will showcase the very best from across the artistic spectrum.

Held under the patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the Festival will celebrate its eighth edition in 2011. The theme for the 2011 Festival will be ‘Harmony for Humanity’, reflecting the unifying spirit of the arts in bringing people together in shared appreciation beyond the boundaries of language and culture.

A stunning blend of large-scale concerts, recitals and dramatic performances alongside exhibitions, workshops and debates, including many community-based educational activities. The Festival is truly a UAE-wide experience with activities scheduled across the seven emirates. Growing year-on-year, the Festival has swiftly established itself as an internationally regarded event and a demonstration of Abu Dhabi’s dedication to establishing itself as a capital of artistic excellence and cultural understanding.

“In the eight years since its establishment, expansion and growth the Abu Dhabi Festival has remained committed to the aim of presenting a combination of opportunities for people to share together in the special spirit of the arts to transcend the barriers between us in a celebration of excellence, talent and beauty,” said Her Excellency Mrs. Hoda I. Al Khamis Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation.

“We are 100% committed to delivering new and innovative ways for people to get involved in the Festival and discovering a passion for the arts, which is why we are thrilled to present such a wonderfully diverse programme alongside thriving and engaging community and education programmes. It is developing new passions and exploring new talents and experiences that will be the lasting legacy of the Festival in the creation of cultural innovators of the future,” she added.

H.E. Mrs. Kanoo was joined at the Festival launch by distinguished guests including Algerian artist Rachid Koraichi, whose work will be shown as part of the Festival, H.E. Noura Al Kaabi, Head of twofour54 Tawasol, H.E Sarah Shuhail, Executive Director of Ewa’a Shelters for Women and Children to whom part of the proceeds of this year’s festival will be donated along with other selected charities. and Abdullah Al Ameri from Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and Jordanian singer & songwriter Maccadi Nahas.

Following on from last year’s successful partnership with Poland, we are delighted to announce that Belgium has joined us as partner country and will bring to the Festival an outstanding array of talent that will include award-winning soloists from the elite Chapelle Musicale Reine Elisabeth. The extraordinary Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave who will share her talent of interpreting history and culture through her art with Emirati children as part of the festival’s ongoing educational initiatives. We will also be joined by Paul DuJardin the Director General of the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels and who will lead a series of panel discussions as part of our Riwaq Al Fikr events.

Highlights of the 2011 Abu Dhabi Festival Main Programme

Aficionados of classical music will be enthralled by the opening-night ‘Mozart Masterpieces’ concert, featuring the Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie, conducted and led by Augustin Dumay. Soloists will include world-renowned Lebanese pianist Abdel Rahman El Bacha accompanied by his protégé, Ukrainian pianist Christia Hudziy, violinist Nikita Boriso-Glebsky and Maxim Rysanov, recognized as one of the world’s greatest viola players.

Committed to supporting and expanding the artistic horizons of acts participating in the Abu Dhabi Festival, organisers are thrilled to welcome the contemporary dance production, PUSH to the lineup this year. This ground-breaking Sadler’s Wells London Production features dance legends Sylvie Guillem and Russell Maliphant, the critically acclaimed production will make its regional debut at the Festival.

A Ballet Gala evening entitled ‘Max and Irina Present Stars of the Bolshoi and Mariinsky,’ will feature internationally acclaimed ballets stars Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Belesorkovsky. Music will be performed by the fabulous Russian National Orchestra, the Festival’s Orchestra in Residence for this eighth season, conducted by Valery Ovsyanikov.

Yefim Bronfman, the Russian-American pianist, widely regarded as one of the world’s most talented virtuoso pianists performing today will present a concert entitled ‘Bronfman and Brahms’. Accompanied by the Russian National Orchestra, and conducted by Italian maestro Nicola Luisotti.

Building on the success of 2010, Festival organisers are delighted to bring a world-class jazz act to Abu Dhabi for the second year in a row. The Grammy Award-winning, jazz legend Al Jarreau, will bring his unique flavour of jazz to the Festival.

An evening Opera Gala featuring acclaimed baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky and soprano Ekaterina Siurina with the Russian National Orchestra, conducted by Nicola Luisotti, is sure to thrill the audience with a programme of opera classics. Programme highlights will include the works of Rossini, Mozart, Verdi and Puccini.

Young Artist's Day is committed to supporting the development of young musical and artistic talent across the UAE and will be led by Matthew Barley who's musical group Between The Notes will create a series of workshops and in-classroom sessions culminating in and helping to arrange the Young Artists' Day Concert that will showcase the country's brightest emerging talent and will hopefully inspire a generation of young Emirati schoolchildren to discover their musical heritage. The 2010 Festival saw more than 250 schools and 16,000 students participate in a variety of initiatives and this year we are hoping to double those figures.

Other youth inspired performances will include Macbeth by the Globe Education at the Shakespeare's Globe Company. This specially-commissioned production is aimed at today's youth and forms part of the Playing Shakespeare Project (alongside Deutche Bank) and will offer many young people their first experience of live theatre.

Mrs Kanoo also announced that this year’s Abu Dhabi Festival Award will be presented to the Higher College of Technology Women’s College for their outstanding stage design and production for the Children’s Opera presented in collaboration with the Capitole Opera House of Toulouse.

Sharing across society with an engaging Community Programme

Celebrating the spirit of ‘Bilad Al Khayr’ – ‘The Land of Blessings’, the Abu Dhabi Festival is committed to extending opportunities for people from across the UAE to participate in the Festival. The Festival’s Community Programme is developed by the region’s only community arts unit. A packed programme of activities will ensure that the Festival reaches out to communities across the UAE. There will be activities to captivate people of all ages and backgrounds, with the aim of supporting the Festival’s commitment to investing in, and nurturing, the creativity of the nation.  

It is in the spirit of ‘Bilad Al Khayr’ that each year ticket income generated by the Festival is donated to civil society groups. In 2011, the income will be divided between three beneficiaries. The beneficiaries are the Ewa’a Shelter for Women and Children, who are working to address the impact of human trafficking, the A Child A Promise Foundation, in support of their work with Palestinian children, and to ADMAF Education to support the development of future arts education initiatives.

 Encouraging the cultural leaders of the future through the Education Programme

Education continues to lie at the heart of the 2011 Abu Dhabi Festival and builds on ADMAF’s year-round programme that aims to inspire and nurture inquisitive minds, cultural thinkers and leaders of future generations. The programme of activities will appeal to school children, children with special learning needs and university students, as well as the wider public, giving them the opportunity to interact with visiting artists in specially developed workshops, concerts and performances.

Explaining the importance of the education programme, H.E. Mrs. Hoda I. Al Khamis Kanoo said: “Education is one of the key foundation stones of the Abu Dhabi Festival, providing an important platform for inspiring young minds and the future cultural leaders of the UAE.”

Zaha Hadid Pavilion to provide innovative performance space

Co-commissioned by the Abu Dhabi Festival in partnership with the Manchester International Festival and the Holland Festival, Festival organisers are delighted to be able to bring the Zaha Hadid Pavilion to the Abu Dhabi Festival. The Pavilion is an intimate performance space, with a seating capacity for 200 on Panton chairs. It has been specifically designed to be an acoustically perfect space for public performances. Located at the Emirates Palace, the Pavilion will provide an intimate and innovative concert environment for the Abu Dhabi Festival around which we will present a series of performances and musical journeys under the banner of ‘Arab Creativity in the Architecture of the Future’. Within this beautiful structure we hope to explore the legacies of Arab art and music and reflect on its power to inspire future generations of young Arab artists, poets, musicians. Our commitment to preserving our own musical heritage, knowledge of which has traditionally passed down through the generations as an oral history, will be reinforced this year with the beginning of a long-term project to archive our knowledge and build a library of written work that will document our history for future generations.

Further information can be found at: