World-class WNO Orchestra to give musical welcome to visitors on opening day of Dubai Shopping Festival

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Dubai: Famed Indian Sarod player Amjad Ali Khan, Chinese conductor Xian Zhang and Filipino pianist Cecile Licad to mesmerize fans with live orchestral music

With the 20th anniversary of the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) just days away, its organisers, the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), an agency of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), is inviting visitors and residents to join the festival’s spectacular “Journey Into Music”, which begins with the world-class orchestra of the Welsh National Opera (WNO) on New Year’s day (1 January) at Zabeel Park from 4:30pm onwards. Entry to the event is free of charge.


The 20th anniversary celebrations of DSF will run from 1 January until 1 February 2015 and will be held under the theme “A Journey of Celebrations” – offering more than 150 citywide events, mega attractions, numerous shopping opportunities and winning options for visitors and residents from around the world.

As the main opening event of DSF 2015, WNO Orchestra will celebrate Dubai’s harmonious diversity through classical international melodies played live on the stage. The orchestral programme features timeless scores from Argentina, Brazil, France, India and Russia – in a creative attempt to represent the emirate’s multicultural character in a dynamic musical format.

Visitors can look forward to witnessing the renowned Chinese conductor Xian Zhang lead the orchestra. An established opera conductor, Xian conducts at the highest level in Europe, appearing regularly with the London Symphony and Royal Concertgebouw orchestras. Her future engagements include the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and European Union Youth Orchestra, with whom she will tour to major European festivals in August 2015. She is also set to make her debut with Den Norske Opera in January 2016.

Fans of the Indian Sarod player Amjad Ali Khan are in for a spellbinding treat as the legendary musician performs Samaagam for the first time in Dubai with his two sons, Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan. Samaagam, which comes from a Sanskrit word meaning confluence or flowing together, seeks to preserve the essence of both Indian and Western traditions to enable them to flow together without any artistic compromise. Admirers can expect Amjad Ali Khan’s performance to breathe new life into the common musical DNA of both the traditions.

Music fans are also set to be mesmerized by the talented Filipina classical pianist Cecile Licad. Called “a pianist’s pianist” by The New Yorker, Cecile’s artistry is a blend of daring musical instinct and exceptional training. As a highly regarded chamber musician, she has performed regularly with ensembles such as the New York Chamber Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Guarneri Quartet, Takacs Quartet, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Music from Marlboro.

The musical showcase will also feature Dubai-based composer Joanna Marsh and the Dubai premiere of her powerful musical work Kahayla. An allegorical piece about ambition, celebration and cultural pride, Kahayla refers to a pure Arabian horse breed and features a galloping rhythm which begins at the start with the crack of a whip.

The programme will kick off with Fanfare for the Common Man – a celebrated musical work by late American composer Aaron Copland. Also on the agenda are Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla’s Libertango, Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, French composer George Bizet’s Carmen Suite, Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Polonaise from Eugene Onegin and many other classical international musical gems.

Since its inception in 1970, the WNO Orchestra has established itself as one of the finest orchestras in the UK, highly praised for its distinction in wide-ranging operatic repertoire, as well as for its extremely varied concert work and portfolio of recordings.

The WNO Orchestra is a part of the Etisalat Festive Park, one of the unique initiatives of DSF 2015.  In addition to the WNO Orchestra on 1 January, families can also head to the popular Ripe Food & Craft Market, which will open for a special New Year edition at Zabeel Park. Offering a great platform for talented local artisans and small business owners, the Ripe Food & Craft Market is the perfect place to take you on a journey of discovery and into a world filled with beautiful, unique and handmade creations from arts and crafts to fashion and jewellery, and much more.

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