From Abu Dhabi to space: the inspiring journey of Nadine Kabbani's celestial composition

A SpaceX rocket will carry Emirati graduate's musical creation to the International Space Station

NYUAD graduate Nadine Kabbani wants to combine music and law in her career. Photo: Nadine Kabbani
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When Nadine Kabbani started playing the piano at the age of 8, she never imagined her music would one day be streamed from space.

Yet, this September, her composition No Gravity will be broadcast from the International Space Station.

The Emirati, 20, was selected as one of two winners of the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology's AstroBeat – Music from Space competition in May.

A SpaceX rocket will carry her winning submission – a celestial-inspired composition – to the orbiting laboratory, where it will be featured for the first time.

“I really hope that when the astronauts listen to my piece, it gives them a sense of understanding and connection to what I’ve composed,” Ms Kabbani told The National.

“I want to them to have a feeling that even though they might be away from home, they can still feel like they’re back with their loved ones.

“To keep that feeling throughout the composition, the song ends in a way that provides a sense of completeness and calmness.”

Reaching for the stars

Ms Kabbani recently graduated from the New York University Abu Dhabi with a bachelor's degree in legal studies and music.

Growing up in Abu Dhabi, she developed a deep love for music and the piano, and added to her skills at university.

“Throughout that course, I fell in love with music composition, specifically film composition,” said Ms Kabbani, who started exploring beyond the piano and began experimenting with different styles and sounds during her studies.

Her winning piece merges classical instruments with synthesisers.

“I wanted to push my limits. I usually compose with just classical instruments, but this time, I incorporated a drone and other synthesisers to give it a space-themed, celestial vibe.”

The inspiration for No Gravity came during a period when Ms Kabbani was travelling frequently for a competition related to her law studies.

Feeling distant and unanchored, she channelled these emotions into her music.

“It’s about that feeling of floating around between different places – that’s why I named it No Gravity, she said.

Grateful for support

Ms Kabbani credits staff at NYUAD, particularly assistant professors Matteo Marciano and Carlos Guedes, for their guidance and support.

“They’ve both played integral parts in shaping my academic journey, because I started music as a hobby – something that I would just do for fun,” she said.

“And with their guidance, it has truly shown me that I can do this as a potential career.”

Ms Kabbani's involvement in projects like the Young Filmmakers Workshop – an initiative involving NYUAD for Emirati high school students – where she assisted in composing music for short films, further fueled her passion for composing film music.

While she wants to continue pursuing projects in music, Ms Kabbani has decided to go down the legal route, as she is equally passionate about it.

“I want to be a lawyer, specifically in intellectual property law, but I also never want to give up on music,” she said.

“I plan to compose music in my free time, and I want to specialise in intellectual property law as a way of combining both my interests.”

The other winner is American student Summer Reid, whose composition Little Brooks was inspired by a family reunion.

AstroBeat is a project financed by the Malta Council for Science and Technology through the Mediterranean island's Space Upstream Programme.

The payload opportunity is provided by Nanoracks, a company that creates access to space for schools and companies.

Updated: June 08, 2024, 7:28 AM