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Dubai’s TODA brings Studio Ghibli to life with immersive piano concert

The concert took place on Sunday at 18:00 and 21:00. (TODA)
The concert took place on Sunday at 18:00 and 21:00. (TODA)
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08 Feb 2024 03:02:28 GMT9
08 Feb 2024 03:02:28 GMT9
  • A live album of the concert will be available on streaming platforms on March 21

Manar Elbaz

DUBAI: Dubai’s Theatre of Digital Art (TODA) took Studio Ghibli lovers on a magical journey on Sunday as it hosted a piano night dedicated to Hayao Miyazaki’s films. 

Located at Souk Madinat Jumeirah, TODA is an exhibition space for digital art that features immersive art spaces with large projection screens on all its walls and ceiling. 

The piano tunes were played by Gayane Aslanyan, an award-winning Armenian pianist with more than 20 years of experience. She played songs from popular movies such as “Spirited Away,” “Kiki’s Delivery Services,” and “Howl’s Moving Castle.” 


Aslanyan, who has been playing since she was five years old, has been an anime fan since she was young and was always inspired by their soundtracks. 

“I grew up watching the movies. When I was a teenager, I discovered Naruto, and that’s when I became an anime fan,” she told Arab News Japan. 

“I love the movies mostly for the soundtracks. The Spirited Away soundtrack really resonated with me,” she added. 

For the concert, Aslanyan played the iconic hits with a unique touch. She shared that playing the pieces as is would not be interesting and would not sound nice since some of them would sound better with an orchestra. 

“I’m adding many things to the arrangements,” she said. “I always like to add something from myself. It could even be a melody or little harmonies that change that are not occurring in the original soundtrack. I wouldn’t say I’m changing too much, though. It still sounds the same.”

The concert featured 360-degree screens that showcased scenes from Studio Ghibli movies. 


“We always keep in mind that we have these opportunities with visual arrangement, and it makes the concert look exceptionally interesting and unique,” Nina Arutyunyan, TODA’s former executive producer, told Arab News Japan.

Alongside doing the Studio Ghibli tribute shows, the pianist also did a concert dedicated to video game soundtracks. The concert featured music from games such as The Witcher and Genshin Impact as well as a streamer who was playing the games simultaneously. 

“The streamer was playing live (and it was shown on the screen), and the pianist was playing live,” Arutyunyan said. “We liked it a lot. We want to make it even better next time.” 

Aslanyan shared exclusively with Arab News Japan that her live concert arrangement will be available on streaming services on March 21. 

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