Culture and Tolerance is the message of this year’s amazing programme line-up which includes performances by artists from across the world . FACT has the upcoming highlights…

EVENT: Mohamed Abdo: One Moonlit Evening
LOCATION: Emirates Palace Auditorium
DATE & TIME: March 14, 8pm

With a prolific career spanning four decades, thousands of songs and more than 30 albums, Mohammed Abdo is a master beyond compare. Known as ‘The Artist of the Arabs’ – a name given to him by the Tunisian President Bourguiba, one of his admirers – Abdo is Saudi Arabia’s most revered musician. He is adored and celebrated is celebrated by legions of dedicated fans for his preservation of mawrouth (the inherited songs).

Some of his greatest known albums include Al Amaken, Mouzhila, Shabeeh El Rih, Aallamtouha, Majmouat Insan and Wahdak. A legend and visionary whose significance resounds across the region and internationally, he has a particularly storied connection with the UAE – first performing in the early 1970s at the behest of the late Sheikh Zayed. In 2017, this historic talent makes his Abu Dhabi Festival debut with an ensemble of musicians from across the Arab world.

EVENT: Festival Recital Series – Juan Perez Floristan
LOCATION: Black Box, The Arts Centre at NYU Abu Dhabi
DATE & TIME: March 18, 8pm

A beacon among the emergent nextgeneration of classical European artists, Spanish pianist Juan Pérez Floristán is an extraordinary rising virtuoso. He has won the First and Audience Prizes at the Paloma O’Shea Santander International Piano Competition (2015), the First Prize of the Steinway Competition in Berlin (2015) and the Honorific Prize Juventudes Musicales in Madrid.

He has played in Madrid, Paris, Berlin, Hamburg, Warsaw, Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Malmö; with orchestras including the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic, Malmö Symphony, and Seville Royal Symphony to name but a few. He studied for 10 years under his mother, María Floristán, following which Galina Eguiazarova guided him for four years at the Renia Sofía School of Music, Madrid. Currently, he studies in Berlin with Eldar Nebolsin. See this ferocious young talent in an intimate recital setting as his star ascends.

EVENT: Festival Recital Series – Tarek Yamani: Portraits in Khaleeji Rhythms & Jazz
LOCATION: Black Box, The Arts centre at NYU Abu Dhabi
DATE & TIME: March 19, 8pm

Critically acclaimed for music that is “full of poetry and mysticism”, Tarek revisits the classic traditions of the Khaleeji region through the complex rhythms and harmonies of jazz. In an invigorating style he calls “Afro Tarab”, Tarek ingeniously bridges the boundaries between two eclectic cultures and musical heritages.

Born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, Tarek moved to New York in 2011. A self-taught jazz pianist, composer and music programmer, he was exposed to jazz by chance at the age of 19. He immediately fell in love with it. Failing to find a mentor anywhere in Lebanon made him even more determined to explore the music on his own, by decoding theory books and transcribing jazz records. He went on to complete a BA in Jazz Piano at the Prins Claus Conservatorium, Netherlands.

Winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk Jazz Composer’s Competition, Yamani is among the best talents of his generation.

EVENT: Wynton Marsalis in Concert
LOCATION: Emirates Palace Auditorium
DATE & TIME: March 27, 8pm

Wynton Marsalis is an internationally acclaimed musician, composer, bandleader, educator and a leading advocate of American culture. He is the world’s first jazz artist to perform and compose across the full jazz spectrum from its New Orleans roots to bebop and modern jazz. By creating and performing an expansive range of brilliant new music for quartets to big bands, chamber music ensembles to symphony orchestras, tap dance to ballet, Wynton has expanded the vocabulary for jazz and created a vital body of work that places him amongst the world’s finest musicians and composers.

After a legendary sold-out performance at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Festival, the Wynton Marsalis Ensemble returns to the UAE by popular demand, joined by a protégé from The Juilliard School, for a night of boundless talent.

EVENT: Tomatito – Soy Flamenco
LOCATION: Red Theatre, The Arts centre at NYU Abu Dhabi
DATE & TIME: March 23, 8pm

Multi-Grammy-Award winner José Fernández Torres, known as Tomatito, has been pivotal in the evolution of flamenco guitar. He accompanied Camarón de la Isla for the last 18 years of the great singer’s life and has since secured his own place as the leading flamenco guitarist of his generation and indeed of all time. A master of the passionate Spanish art form that melds dance, song, guitar and percussion, his extraordinary talent has included collaborations with giants such as Elton John, Mohamed Rouicha and Omar Faruk.

Tomatito was born in Almería in 1958 into a family of great flamenco guitarists, beginning his musical career aged 12, performing in renowned flamenco clubs. Since these early beginnings, he has recorded six solo albums and has performed at international venues from the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels to London’s Royal Albert Hall. Tomatito’s innovative ‘nouveau flamenco’ style fuses the traditional Spanish form with jazz, gypsy, Brazilian and even Turkish influences.

EVENT: China’s National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra
LOCATION: Emirates Palace Auditorium
DATE & TIME: March 24 & 25, 8pm

NCPA Orchestra was established in March 2010 and performs in more than a dozen of its home venue’s opera productions every year, as well as in regular orchestral concerts in its own season. The NCPA Orchestra has flexed its wings on the international stage, receiving widespread international praise for its performances at the Kissingen Summer Music Festival and the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival as well as concerts across Germany, Sydney, Singapore, Seoul, Daegu, Taipei and Macau.

In their Arab World Debut conducted by Maestro Yi Zhang, the orchestra will present two sublime concerts. Night one features Tchaikovsky’s Slavonic March, Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.2 with pianist Haochen Zhang and Dvořák Symphony No.9 in E Minor. Night two features Bach’s Chaconne in D Minor, the prolific violinist Siqing Lü with The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto – a masterpiece by He Zhanhao & Chen Gang – and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Suite. Fabulous!

EVENT: The Queen of Fado, Mariza – Live in Abu Dhabi
LOCATION: Emirates Palace Auditorium
DATE & TIME: March 29, 8pm

In less than 12 years, Mariza has risen from a well-hidden local phenomenon, known only to a small circle of admirers in Lisbon, to one of the most widely acclaimed world music stars. No Portuguese artist since Amália Rodrigues has experienced such a triumphant international career, accumulating success after success on the most prestigious world stages, rave reviews and numerous international awards and distinctions. Affectionately known as the ‘Queen of Fado’, Grammynominated singer Mariza is the most celebrated champion of the Portuguese musical genre.

Inscribed with UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity status, Fado is a Portuguese tradition that infuses music and poetry to form a multicultural synthesis including traditional rural music, Afro-Brazilian sung dance influences and cosmopolitan urban song patterns. Marizae has collaborated with stars including Lenny Kravitz, Sting, Jacques Morelenbaum, and John Mauceri to name but a few.

EVENT: The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma
LOCATION: Emirates Palace Auditorium
DATE & TIME: March 29, 8pm

Since 2000, the Silk Road Ensemble has redefined classical music for 21st century audiences. Described as “vibrant and virtuosic” by the Wall Street Journal, “one of the 21st century’s great ensembles” by the Vancouver Sun, and a “roving musical laboratory without walls” by the Boston Globe, The Ensemble features musicians from more than 20 countries, including spellbinding Syrian clarinettist Kinan Azmeh. They come together under the direction of renowned cellist and UN Messenger of Peace Yo-Yo Ma to cocreate art, performances and ideas that fuse, exchange and explore an array of global cultures.

Passionate about learning from one another’s traditions, these explorers perform on instruments ranging from world percussion to Western strings. Under the artistic direction of Mr Ma, these storytellers celebrate the multiplicity of approaches to music from around the world. In engaging, highenergy performances, they draw on the rich tapestry of traditions that make up our shared cultural heritage, creating a new musical language.

GO: Go online to www.800tickets.com/AbuDhabiFestival for tickets and www.abudhabifestival.ae for more information on other cultural activities and festival events.