DUBAI: Emirati Composer Ihab Darwish launched Hekayat: Symphonic Tales on March 30 as part of Abu Dhabi Festival’s year-long hybrid virtual programme, under the theme The Future Starts Now.
The performance traverses the globe in 13 compositions played by 128 musicians in 20 countries, capturing the musical traditions and cultures of every continent.
Hekayat, which means tales in English, makes history as the first performance of its kind by an Emirati artist. In a marvel of technological sophistication, the performers, recorded separately in their countries, appear together as one orchestra on the stage of Abu Dhabi’s luxurious Emirates Palace Auditorium.
Darwish brought together a powerhouse group of international musicians, including Krakow’s acclaimed Beethoven Academy Orchestra, conducted by maestro Tomasz Tokarczyk, VOX Chamber Choir, tenor José Cura, virtuoso musicians Sara Andon, Kodō, Carlos Piñana and Kinan Azmeh.
With musicians, performers and the orchestra filmed individually in 21 cities around the world, the symphony required 675 zoom sessions and 86,600 man-hours of planning and production. The individual performances were synchronized digitally, and innovative post-production technology placed all 128 artists on a virtual 3D model of the stage.
Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation and Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival Huda I. Alkhamis-Kanool said: “Ihab Darwish’s ‘Hekayat’ international premiere is an extraordinary global journey of symphonic music in which artists from all corners of the world come together in the composer’s universal message of peace and cultural understanding, that seamlessly aligns with Abu Dhabi Festival’s mission.”
Darwish also said: “I’m constantly experimenting with different genres, instruments, and time frames in music. The experimental nature of ‘Hekayat’ is inspired by my inherent hope for a better future and belief in shared human values. Since my first engagement at Abu Dhabi Festival, the format of performances has been transformed by the pandemic, and yet music’s profound emotional impact and power to soothe are more important than ever. As a unique virtual event, ‘Hekayat’ will be accessible to all audiences around the globe, which is a great advantage.”
Darwish is the first Emirati composer in his genre to have his music distributed by international publisher Universal Music MENA and first guest composer of the Beethoven Academy Orchestra. He specializes in composing classical music, featuring distinct Western, Arab and Khaleeji fusions, which has become his signature style. In Hekayat, he further develops this style with exceptionally unique instrumental, musical and vocal fusions.
Takuro Susaki, President of Japanese Taiko drums troupe ‘Kodō’ said: “It is an immense honor to be a part of the spectacular symphony. Darwish’s music is magnificent, and the roots of his creativity contain much of the ancient Arabic vision and pioneer spirit. His melodies emerge from his DNA and go beyond international output.”
This first-of-its-kind performance is available from 30 March until 11 April at AbuDhabiFestival.ae/Hekayat-Symphonic-Tales.