Emirati composer Ihab Darwish to bring together 128 musicians in 20 countries for epic symphony

It might have been recorded across the globe, but musicians will appear on one virtual stage for this month's performance of 'Hekayat: Symphonic Tales'

How many Zoom sessions does it take to create a global symphony in the current climate? About 675, according to Ihab Darwish.

The Emirati composer had to hold hundreds of video conferences to organise an epic performance, which will debut in March as part of Abu Dhabi Festival's year-long virtual programme.

Under the helm of Darwish, 128 musicians in 20 countries took part in a number of recordings to bring his Hekayat: Symphonic Tales to life.

The symphony, which was commissioned by Abu Dhabi Festival, will be released on Tuesday, March 30.

Comprised of 13 compositions, musicians that took part include Krakow's Beethoven Academy Orchestra, the Vox Chamber Choir and Argentine tenor Jose Cura.

American flautist Sara Andon, Japanese drumming troupe Kodo, Spanish guitarist Carlos Pinana and Syrian clarinet player Kinan Azmeh also feature in the production.

"The experimental nature of Hekayat is inspired by my inherent hope for a better future and belief in shared human values," said Darwish.

"Since my first engagement at Abu Dhabi Festival, the format of performances has been transformed by the pandemic, and yet music’s profound emotional impact and power to soothe are more important than ever."

Though filmed separately in 21 cities around the world, post-production wizardry will ensure the musicians appear as one orchestra in the final video, set against the virtual backdrop of Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace Auditorium.

Darwish, who launched his debut album Waves Of My Life in 2018, also penned 2020's National Day ode Aim For The Sky, which was unveiled in December at Dubai's The Palm Fountain.

Hekayat: Symphonic Tales will be available until Sunday, April 11 on the Abu Dhabi Festival website.

As part of its year-long programme, the festival – held under the theme The Future Starts Now – will also feature a symphony by Emirati composer Mohammed Fairouz inspired by the Founding Father Sheikh Zayed, a performance by the Emirates Youth Symphony Orchestra and dances by the American Ballet Theatre.

The programme, which runs for nine months, also includes concerts, exhibitions and films, all of which will be screened on the Abu Dhabi Festival website.