Abu Dhabi Festival Award 2023 honours composers behind Symphony of Three

The award recognises lifetime achievements of those who have made significant contributions to music and arts

The 2023 Abu Dhabi Festival Award ceremony took place on Wednesday at Emirates Palace. Photo: Admaf
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The composers behind Symphony of Three: Peace, Love, Tolerance were among the six talents who received the Abu Dhabi Festival Award this year.

The annual award was established by the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation in 2012 and presented in association with the luxury brand Chopard. It is held as part of the Abu Dhabi Festival. Past recipients include record producer Quincy Jones, composer Philip Glass and author Amin Maalouf.

The ceremony for the 2023 award took place on Wednesday at Emirates Palace.

“Each year, the Abu Dhabi Festival Award recognises the outstanding lifetime achievements of those individuals who have made significant contributions to music and the arts,” said Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, founder of Admaf and artistic director of the Abu Dhabi Festival.

Composers John Debney and David Shire and veteran film music producer Robert Townson were among those who received the award this year. They were honoured for their prolific careers, influence in shaping the music and film industries, as well as their contributions to the Abu Dhabi Festival commission and co-production of Symphony of Three.

Emirati composer Ihab Darwish and inshad singer Sheikh Mahmoud Al Tohamy were also awarded for their work on the Symphony of Three epic.

The symphonic performance brought together vocal ensembles, composers and musicians from Christian, Jewish and Muslim backgrounds to celebrate dialogue among different faiths. The piece was conceived in celebration of the Abrahamic Family House, the interfaith complex on Saadiyat Island. It is available to stream on YouTube.

“Together, Shire, Debney and Townson have brought joy to people around the world with their lasting contributions to the music and film industry," said Alkhamis-Kanoo.

The award was bestowed as well upon Iraqi oud master Naseer Shamma for his lifetime contributions and dedication to preserving Arab heritage.

“This year, we also recognise the remarkable accomplishments of oud master Naseer Shamma for his tireless commitment and dedication to music, to preserving Arab cultural heritage, and to establishing Bait Al Oud Al Arabi centres for music education in Abu Dhabi and beyond, further enhancing the Abu Dhabi Festival award’s status as the benchmark of cultural excellence," Alkhamis-Kanoo said.

Updated: March 19, 2023, 10:03 AM