A musical extravaganza: What to expect at this year’s Abu Dhabi Classics

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A new season of Abu Dhabi ­Classics gets underway this week, launching an impressive run of 26 performances that will be hosted at various venues across the ­emirate.

Over the next eight months, audiences can expect to witness a range of showcases from Arabic poetry and traditional Indian dance to James Bond theme music, all served alongside a healthy portion of the Western classical music the series has built its ­esteemed reputation on.

The theme for this year’s programme is “music and poetry”. Aiming to engage audiences across the emirate, the events will be hosted in diverse locations, including the Liwa desert and Al Ain’s historic sites.

The Classics are the work of the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority. After a three-year absence, the series made a welcome return for 2014/15 season, which played to thousands of people. Here’s what to look forward to before the year is out.

All performances commence at 8pm. For more information on the rest of the season, and booking tickets, visit www.abudhabiclassics.ae


Symphony Orchestra of India

Despite being less than a decade old, this 70-piece orchestra is already one of Asia's most renowned large ensembles, with inventive ­programming that ­integrates the classical canon alongside works with ­contemporary ­regional ­commissions. Tonight in Abu Dhabi, the highlight will undoubtedly be a reading of ­Beethoven's summery Fourth Symphony, alongside works by Mikhail Glinka, Karl Goldmark and Edward Elgar. Thursday (Oct 8)'s Al Ain audience can look forward to Bach's Brandenburg Concert No 3, as well as pieces from Kreisler, Albeniz, Anderson and Wirén.

Wednesday, October 7 at Emirates Palace, tomorrow at Municipality Theatre Al Ain

Gulzar and Ajoy Chakrabarty

The first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, the ­influence of the late Rabindranath Tagore on Indian art, music and verse continue to be felt to this day. Here, poet, writer and film director Gulzar is joined by noted classical vocalist Chakrabarty to pay homage with an evening of Tagore’s words and music.

Monday, October 12 and Wednesday, October 14 at Abu Dhabi Theatre, Corniche

Aditi Mangaldas Dance Company

Kathak is one of the eight forms of classical Indian dance, dating back hundreds of years to the nomadic bards of the ­country’s north. Here, Aditi Mangaldas celebrates both classic and contemporary forms of the art with a two-part performance promising fast pirouettes and complicated footwork permutations.

Tuesday October 13 at Emirates Palace

Belgrade Philharmonic String Quartet

This young European ensemble will perform two very distinct programmes. The capital's opening night will please ­traditionalists, with complete performances of Beethoven's heroic Tenth String Quartet alongside Johannes Brahms's autumnal Clarinet Quintet. The second recital is in the remote emptiness of the Liwa Oasis. Inspired by their novel surroundings, the ensemble will perform Maurice Ravel's String Quartet, which takes inspiration from 1001 Arabian Nights, as well as Carl Maria von Weber's Quintet for Clarinet and Strings.

October 28 at Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island and October 29 at Liwa Oasis (venue to be confirmed)

Jordi Savall and Hespèrion XXI

After wowing audiences with his headline role in last season’s programme, Catalan iconoclast Savall is back with an ambitious series of four concerts. The one-off opening night Orient-­Occident will celebrate the medieval music of Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Savall will then hit the road for a special series of open-air concerts, revving last year’s hit Ibn Battuta: Voyager of Islam, in collaboration with early music ensemble Hespèrion XXI and Emirati musicians.

November 22 at Abu Dhabi Theatre, November 23 at Mushrif Park, November 24 at Liwa Oasis (venue to be confirmed), November 25 at Al Ain Oasis (venue to be confirmed)

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

This respected UK ensemble will host two nights paying tribute to very different icons of popular culture: Bond and Beethoven. The first, an open-air concert is a light-hearted affair celebrating popular 007 film themes written by John Barry and others. A second night will highlight traditional fare with complete performances of Beethoven’s electrifying Seventh Symphony and fourth Piano Concerto – just months after Leif Ove Andsnes performed the fifth in the same venue.

December 9 at Al Jahili Fort, Al Ain, December 10 at Emirates Palace

Adonis featuring Naseer Shamma

In perhaps the purest ­expression of the programme’s twin themes – poetry and music – the final performance of 2015 will pit renowned Syrian poet Adonis in dialogue with Iraqi oud player Shamma. A brave pairing of two huge, respected talents likely to defy expectations.

December 17 at Emirates Palace