Emirati Composer Ihab Darwish spoke to Arab News Japan about his passion for music and his talent in combining classical and contemporary styles, tradition and modernity, big patriotic themes with intimate and personal pieces scored in a melodic and cinematic orchestration.
He explained that he had loved music since he was a kid and listened to so many different artists under different genres.
Speaking of where he grew up, Darwish said: “In a short time, Abu Dhabi became one of the fastest and most developed cities in the globe, breaking limits with its urban development, becoming a melting pot of cultures, and providing peace and security to all the people living on its land. The city prioritizes knowledge, education, and futuristic progression, yet still maintains its traditions and rich Arabian culture – which I reflect on my music. Three years ago, I dedicated one of piece in my first album to Abu Dhabi, titled ‘Abu Dhabi Renaissance, Beyond Limit’ symbolizes the growth of the capital.”
Darwish said his career started nine years ago, when he started experimenting with virtual instruments, and taught himself how to use them and compose a full scale symphony orchestra from the studio in his house.
“Ever since I decided to take it to another level, and I mean professionally. I updated my own home studio and then started this amazing musical journey. I was privileged to meet wonderful people on my path, and always felt destined to meet the team that I have now,” he explained.
The Emirati composer released his first album, ‘Waves of My Life’ in 2018 and had his first concert at the Abu Dhabi Festival.
The first album was recorded in 2017 and 2018. Darwish said they were key years in his musical development.
“For the very first time my music was to find its reflection in a rendition of over 140 musicians of the Beethoven Academy Orchestra. My album was released in early 2018, and was distributed worldwide by Universal Music MENA across an array of digital music platforms,” he told Arab News Japan.
Darwish is known for working on the new UFO Robot Grendizer Medley with Sammy Clark (The Arabic singer for Grendizer anime series), he shared with Arab News Japan the story behind the project: “Grendizer reminds us with our magical and sentimental childhood, we always consider this character as our hero. The animation, music, voices, etc… brought us joy and happiness to our hearts. Sammy Clark is one of those heroes that we relate our childhood to, his powerful voice has its own signature and lead us to remember this iconic Japanese anime and best times ever.”
Darwish also worked on a project where he had composed music as part of the celebration for the largest record-breaking fountain in the world.
“I was commissioned by The Palm Fountain to compose an official song ‘Aim for The Sky’ as a sonic brand and signature music. And I simply loved the project,” he said.
“The piece is a tribute to the UAE’s diverse people and culture, a musical dialogue infused with classical, khaleeji, oriental, and electronic styles to showcase the unity of all cultures under one sky. It is performed regularly,” he added.
Darwish is also known for composing & producing “Hekayat: Symphonic Tales,” a symphonic work that featured 13 compositions and was performed by 128 musicians in 20 countries including Japan.
He said the name ‘Hekayat’ translates to ‘stories’ which shows that music is universal and brings cultures together.
Darwish has played music since he was ten. Graduating in Advertising and Art Design, he has pursued a career of image and sound fusion to become a recognized composer.
In 2017, a breakthrough was cooperation with the Beethoven Academy Orchestra in Poland. His first album “Waves of My Life” was launched in 2018, reaching audiences through international distribution by Universal Music MENA. The premiere of his orchestral work: “Waves of My Life: Every Real Story Begins with a Note” was held in 2018 at the prestigious Emirates Palace for the Abu Dhabi Festival. This performance left the audience captivated and eagerly anticipating Darwish’s further development.
In March 2018, Darwish was bestowed ‘First Guest Composer’ by the Beethoven Academy Orchestra and invited to participate as Ambassador of the Euro Mediterranean Music Academy – EMMA for Peace. In the same year, Darwish composed music for the award-winning documentary “She” (2018) directed by Philip Jamel Rashid. A further unique collaboration saw Darwish composing a piece of signature music for Zahra Lari, the UAE first figure skater, to be used in her performances worldwide.
In 2019, Darwish worked in collaboration with the Emirates’ Ministry of Education on the historic theatrical performance ‘Voice of Tolerance’ produced by Dragone and staged at Le Perle in Dubai. The same year Darwish was invited to be a key composer at the 48th UAE National Day celebrations. This government invitation was for the show “Legacy of Our Ancestors”, it was attended by the UAE leadership, royalty, international dignitaries amongst the 14000-strong audience and his music has been performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London.
In 2020, Darwish was commissioned by The Palm Fountain (Dubai, UAE) – world’s largest fountain by the Guinness Book of World Record, to compose an official musical theme “Aim for The Sky” as a sonic brand and its signature music. The composition pays homage to the UAE’s culture as well as capture Dubai’s cosmopolitanism and is performed regularly at The Palm Fountain at The Pointe, Dubai, from December 1, 2020.
In 2021, Darwish performed at Abu Dhabi Festival with his symphonic work “Hekayat: Symphonic Tales”. His music traversed the globe in 13 compositions and was performed by 128 musicians in 20 countries including Japan, capturing the musical traditions and cultures of five continents while making history as the first performance of its kind by an Emirati artist. 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. The virtual concert broadcasted internationally had more than 4 million views. The album was released by Universal Music MENA.
The same year Darwish was invited as a speaker at Mohamed bin Zayed Majlis for Future Generations that connects Emirati youth with UAE leaders to shape a better future for the UAE and was featured at UAE Education Interface Exhibition, March 21-21, 2021.