Naseer Shamma with global music ensemble collaborate to perform world premiere concert

Press release
Published March 25th, 2012 - 10:04 GMT

In an Abu Dhabi Festival Commission and World Premiere, the acclaimed Iraqi oud virtuoso Naseer Shamma was joined by renowned musicians from Italy, Spain, Greece, Colombia and Puerto Rico for a spectacular musical journey at the Emirates Palace Auditorium last night. Naseer Shamma and the Global Music Ensemble delivered an electrifying performance that encapsulated the very heart of the Festival’s central theme of Connecting Culturesby uniting musicians from 7 countries to perform together. The ensemble which included Niño Josele on Spanish guitar, Grammy award winning Giovanni Hidalgo on percussion, Miles Jay on upright bass, Vasilis Saleas on clarinet, Edmar Castaneda on harp and Cesare Picco on piano delighted the audience with an innovative repertoire.

Beginning with a poignant solo from Nasseer Shamma ‘Away from Sadness’ the first half then ended with Naseer Shamma inviting 7 Emirati percussionists on stage to perform a rousing performance of ‘Union, Tomorrow is better’. An original song inspired by the electrifying spirit of the nation during the UAE’s 40th National Day celebrations. The second half opened with ‘Travelling souls’: a narration of a unique spiritual experience and concluded with a thrilling improvisation set from each artist which seamlessly combined together for the grand finale.

Speaking after the performance, Her Excellency Mrs. Hoda Al Khamis Kanoo, Founder and Artistic Director of the Abu Dhabi Festival, said: “We were delighted to once again host oud legend Naseer Shamma together with the Global Music Ensemble as part of this year’s Abu Dhabi Festival. This performance embodies the vision of the Abu Dhabi Festival; to transcend borders through music and the arts. The audience was treated to a breath-taking musical performance combining Middle Eastern composition with musical influences from Europe and the America’s to create something truly spectacular.”

The Global Music Ensemble accompanying Naseer Shamma was comprised of a veritable smorgasbord of international talent. Nino Josele, an acclaimed exponent of New Flamenco, and Puerto Rican drummer and Grammy award winning music explorer Giovanni Hidalgo, whose influence on jazz-fusion has led to a number of collaborations with talented artists including Dizzy Gillespie delighted the audience with their flamingo inspired beats. The audience was also treated to US-born Miles Jay who combines classical and jazz with Middle Eastern music and has worked with Youssou N’Dour, Ziad Rahbani and Fathy Salama. Greece’s most celebrated clarinetist, Vasilis Saleas, Colombia’s composer-musician, Edmar Castaneda and acclaimed Italian pianst Cesare Picco completed the all-star ensemble who worked alongside Naseer Shamma to create a mesmerizing sound and whose rehearsal process for this concert spanned three major cities.

Speaking after his performance, Naseer Shamma said: “I am always very excited to perform my music in the Middle East and even moreso to return to participate in Abu Dhabi Festival. I performed during the inaugural edition and am very proud how the festival has grown and progressed since 2004. Music is the most beautiful language; it can be appreciated by anyone regardless of their background. Music is a journey that links people from all over the world and their unique cultures, and this collaboration allowed me to combine the traditional elements of my Middle Eastern heritage with musical influences from around the world.”

Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation will be releasing a live recording of the performance in the near future.

Background Information

Abu Dhabi Festival

Abu Dhabi Festival is organized by the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation. The Festival is the UAE's foremost celebration of art and culture bringing together the greatest musicians, performers and artists from both the East and West in the heart of the United Arab Emirates. It seeks to reflect the determination of the capital to take the lead in cultural understanding.

Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation

Through arts education, community arts and special projects, Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) has been nurturing creativity across the UAE for more than two decades. Since its establishment by Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo in 1996, it has been at the forefront of the UAE’s arts sector, inspiring young people, the public and artists, enabling creative expression through a wide range of programmes and projects. By bringing together audiences and institutions, the Foundation has helped embed arts and culture in the heart of the nation.

It seeks to nurture the arts, education, culture and creativity for the benefit of society and the advancement of Abu Dhabi’s cultural vision, motivated by the belief that culture is the key that unlocks a nation’s creativity and the language that transcends borders. Culture is the anchor that unites a nation and ADMAF undertakes a broad range of initiatives and events each year to bring together diverse audiences in the UAE and internationally. As well as fostering close communities and cross-cultural dialogues, the Foundation also recognises the fundamental right for every person, regardless of age or ability, to access, understand and appreciate cultural expression.

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