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 be a feast of arts and culture with more than 40 events. It is a two-week manifestation of world-class performances in traditional, classical and jazz music, drama, fine arts, and ballet.
HE Hoda I. Al Khamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation, comments, "Year after year, the Abu Dhabi Festival has developed, and as well as having the world's most prestigious performers, it now involves the whole community _ not just in Abu Dhabi but across the seven emirates. Underpinning it all are the education and community programs which assert the festival legacy and a deeply rooted cultural strategy. The Festival has reflected over the years the determination of the Capital to lead in cultural understanding. Rapidly becoming an anchor for the cultural elite of the world, the festival will see the world's most prestigious performers share the stage. Dedicated to arts education and knowledge and committed to community outreach, this year's festival offers a vast program spanning performances to commemorate Chopin's Bicentennial; traditional, classical and jazz music, drama, opera, ballet, Middle Eastern artists and a striking contemporary art exhibition".
Highlights of the main festival program
Opening the Festival will be the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Grammy Award winning 20th century world-renowned composer, Krzysztof Penderecki, and one of the greatest piano virtuosos, Chopin award winner Krzysztof Jablonski. This opening concert is carried out in association with the Ludwig van Beethoven Association (Poland). The Festival will also present two piano recitals featuring Chopin masterpieces with Nobuyuki Tsujii, the acclaimed 22-year-old pianist from Japan giving a breathtaking concert and China-born Yundi Li, the youngest musician to win the International Frederick Chopin Piano Competition, making his Middle Eastern debut.
One of the key performances will be given by The Puccini Opera Festival who will be staging a first in the region by presenting the full opera La Bohme by Puccini. It will feature a stellar cast including Ana Mar‹a Mart‹nez and Ana James. The Puccini Opera Festival is held every summer in Torre del Lago, the town where Puccini lived, and where he was inspired to write his ever-loved melodies. The partnership with the Puccini Opera Festival is one of many forged between the Abu Dhabi Festival and leading international festivals this year, which will see partnership throughout the years to come.
In an oriental evening with Chopin, Hiba Al Kawas will present a new adaptation of Chopin's Concerto No. 1, re-orchestrated for Arabic oriental instruments and orchestra with solo piano. This world premiere has been commissioned for the Abu Dhabi Festival. The Chopin Concerto will be played by the Cairo Symphony Orchestra and conducted by maestro Walid Gholmieh.
Wadih El Safi, a Lebanese cultural icon, often called the voice of Lebanon, will perform a selection of his greatest songs in a new orchestration by composer Hiba Al Kawas. For the first time, his songs will be composed and performed in an international orchestral dimension. He will be accompanied by the Cairo Symphony Orchestra together with musicians from the Lebanese National Orchestra who will join the Cairo Orchestra to be conducted by Hiba Al Kawas.
"Pictures Reframed" will see acclaimed classical pianist Leif Ove Andsnes and artist Robin Rhode come together for a joint performance inspired by Mussorgsky's epic 'Pictures at an Exhibition'. This unique performance brings together original musical compositions and a unique videographer installation, connecting the worlds of classical music and contemporary art.
This year's Festival will also see a unique independent performance created by Maxim Beloserkovsky and Irina Dvorovenko, principal dancers from the American Ballet Theatre, bringing together a unique collaboration with principal dancers from both the Bolshoi Theatre and Mariinsky Theatre.
A Festival favourite, the Oud virtuoso Naseer Shamma will return in 2010 to take on one of his most ambitious performances ever by presenting Paganini's Caprice No. 24 on Oud. One of the most complicated pieces ever composed for string instruments, this world premiere will see a fusion of Middle Eastern and Western cultures, whilst highlighting the capacity and potential of the Oud amongst the world strings community.
Closing this year's Festival is the world-famous London Symphony Orchestra, with their legendary principal conductor Sir Colin Davis and fellow maestro Kristjan J‹rvi. They will be joined on stage by star soloists Arabella Steinbacher on violin and Wayne Marshall on piano.
Throughout the whole Festival, The Middle East Modern Masters exhibition will be held at The Emirates Palace. This year the visual art component of the festival is of the highest calibre, with a joint collection of works by two of the greatest living masters of contemporary Middle Eastern art - sculptors Parviz Tanavoli and Adam Henein.
Saturday, March 20
Opening Gala - Chopin Bicentennial Celebration
The National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra featuring Chopin virtuouso pianist Krzysztof Jablonski. Conducted by the prolific composer, Krzysztof Penderecki.
March 20 _ April 7
'Middle Eastern Modern Masters _ Tanaavoli & Henein'
A joint retrospective exhibition of works by Parviz Tanavoli and Adam Henein, two of the greatest living masters of contemporary Middle Eastern art.
Tuesday, March 23 'The Sound of Music' * Salzburg Marionette Theatre has charmed audiences for nearly a century. Their latest puppetry production transcends borders as well as language.
Thursday and Friday, March 25 & 26
The Puccini Opera Festival makes its Middle East debut with a stellar cast including Ana Maria Martinez (Mimi).
Sunday, March 28
Nobuyuki Tsujii _ Chopin Bicentennial Celebration *
A breathtaking concert by the acclaimed 22-year old pianist from Japan who won the 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2009.
Tuesday, March 30
Night at the Ballet* An independent production by Maxim Beloserkovsky and Irina Dvorovenko, principal dancers of the American Ballet Theatre in a unique collaboration with a principal dancers from the Bolshoi Theatre and Mariinsky Theatre.
Wednesday, March 31
Award-winning Norwegian classical pianist Leif Ove Andsnes joins artist Robin Rhode in a performance inspired by Mussorgsky's epic 'Pictures at an Exhibition'.
Thursday, April 1
Yundi Li _ Chopin Bicentennial Celebration*
Having played Carnegie Hall, the youngest musician to win the International Frederick Chopin Piano Competition makes his Middle Eastern debut.
Saturday, April 3
Chopin in Arabia & Wadih El Safi
World premiere and Abu Dhabi Festival commission. A new adaptation of Chopin's Concerto No. 1 by Hiba Al Kawas. Performed by the Cairo Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Walid Gholmieh. Followed by Lebanon's Wadih El Safi accompanied by the Cairo Symphony Orchestra and members of the Lebanese National Orchestra. Conducted by Hiba Al Kawas.
Sunday, April 4
Oud Horizons _ Concert for Humanity *
World premiere. Naseer Shamma joins the Egyptian Philharmonic Society Chamber Orchestra in a masterful rendition of Pagnini's Caprice 24 on the Arabic oud
Monday, April 4
Tuesday and Wednesday, April 6 & 7
London Symphony Orchestra *
The legendary principal conductor Sir Colin Davis and maestro Kristjan Jarvi join acclaimed soloists Arabella Steinbacher on violin and Wayne Marshall on piano.