What to know about Abu Dhabi Festival's new Abrahamic Family House-inspired symphony

Symphony of Three: Peace, Love, Tolerance features one orchestra, 12 soloists, six choirs, five poets and seven vocalists

Emirati musician Ihab Darwish is one of the symphony's three composers. Photo: Ali Arbes
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A classical music symphony inspired by the Abrahamic Family House is available to stream on YouTube.

Commissioned by the Abu Dhabi Festival, the Symphony of Three: Peace, Love, Tolerance is a collaboration between a trio of composers: Ihab Darwish from the UAE, John Debney and David Shire, who are both from the US.

The recording was released on Friday and is available to watch below.

The piece, split across four movements, has already been lauded with Darwish receiving a nomination in the Best New/Emerging Composer category at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards held last month.

"The Abu Dhabi Festival commission and production of Symphony of Three: Peace, Love, Tolerance is a testament to the UAE’s commitment to tolerance and peaceful coexistence, which enables over 200 nationalities to live and work in harmony," said Abu Dhabi Festival artistic director Huda Alkhamis Kanoo.

Here are four things to know about the symphony.

1. It features renderings of the Abrahamic Family House

The project was first announced by the Abu Dhabi Festival last year in honour of the planned Abrahamic Family House, the interfaith complex on Saadiyat Island.

An animated video featuring renderings of the site is shown as part of the broadcast during the intermission.

2. It is epic in scope

Mahmoud El Tohamy is a master practitioner of Sufi chants. Photo: Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation

The symphony is both ambitious and grand with more than 350 artists involved in the recording process.

The Beethoven Academy Orchestra from Poland will be on hand, in addition to six choirs, 12 soloists, five poets and seven vocalists, including Egyptian spiritual singer Mahmoud El Tohamy, South Africa’s Lebo M and South Korean soprano Sumi Jo.

3. Each composer makes their mark

The symphony is divided into four distinct movements. Darwish composes the first and final movements, titled Earth and Tolerance, respectively, while Shire and Debney separately composed the second and third movements, Peace and Love.

All three composers bring their own sensibilities to the work. While Darwish often blends contemporary and classical elements, Shire and Debney are renowned in Hollywood for their respective work in music, film and stage.

A prolific composer, Shire has scored major films for five decades including the Academy Award-winning All The President's Men (1976) and the 2007 thriller Zodiac.

Debney is a three-time winner of the Emmy Awards for his work on television dramas seaQuest DSV, The Young Riders and The Cape.

4. More music is on the way

The symphony is part of a wider Abu Dhabi Festival programme, featuring live physical performances at Emirates Palace.

Some of the artists set to take the stage are Peruvian tenor and opera star Juan Diego Florez, US jazz singer Gregory Porter and Academy Award-winning composer Tan Dun with acclaimed Chinese cellist Jian Wang.

More information is available at abudhabifestival.ae

Updated: December 30, 2022, 2:00 PM
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