A highly anticipated concert by Expo 2020 Dubai's female Firdaus Orchestra, featuring Grammy-nominated sitar player Anoushka Shankar, was preceded by news of famed Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar's death on Sunday.
Shankar, whose late father Ravi Shankar was one of most respected sitar players in the world, paid tribute to Mangeshkar – considered a national treasure in India – before she took to the stage at Jubilee Park, calling her "one of the greatest artists the world has ever known".
"Genuinely heartbroken to hear of the passing of our Nightingale Lata-ji. I was blessed to meet her through my father, who shared such a special musical bond with her," Shankar posted on social media.
Firdaus Orchestra began the show by dedicating the night's performance to Mangeshkar.
Scroll through the gallery above for more pictures from the Firdaus Orchestra show featuring sitarist Anoushka Shankar.
Launching with Bizet’s Les Toreadors (from Carmen Suite No 1), Habanera (from Carmen Suite No 2), and Aragonaise (from Carmen Suite No 1), the orchestra, led by conductor Yasmina Sabbah, delivered a power-packed display that showcased their virtuosity.
Their repertoire also covered operas, such as Rossini’s The Barber of Seville; film soundtracks, including that for Schindler’s List by John Williams, and Arabic music, such as Inta Omri by Umm Kulthum and the poem Lamma Bada Yatathanna.
Shankar joined the troupe in the second half. Dressed elegantly in a gold salwar kameez, she displayed her mastery of the sitar and performed her musical pieces including In This Month, Flight, Traveller and Jannah.
Especially created for Expo 2020 Dubai by Oscar-winning composer AR Rahman, Firdaus Orchestra features musicians from 23 nationalities from across the Arab world, with some as young as 15.
Rahman watched with the audience, which also included Indian musician and composer Ranjit Barot, and British spiritual singer and composer Sami Yusuf.
Shankar, an activist and women's rights campaigner, said performing with an orchestra was heart-warming.
"I felt uplifted and inspired to share a stage with so many women including wonderful conductor Yasmina Sabbah, that too young, talented, bright and powerful women! It was an incredible feeling," she said during rehearsals.
Firdaus Orchestra’s next performance will take place at Expo 2020 Dubai’s Jubilee Park on Friday, February 25.