Dance, art, music and culture: your guide to this month’s Abu Dhabi Festival

ADMAF’s annual festival is back, showcasing world-class musical performances from more than 40 composers. A hub of culture and creativity, the 2018 edition features Bollywood, theatre, workshops and even an art exhibition

The Abu Dhabi Music And Arts Foundation (ADMAF) started the Abu Dhabi Festival way back in 2004, and this edition will feature talents from 30 countries, along with 200 Emirati creatives – in total, there are 500 artists taking part. The UAE’s capital celebrates 15 years of the festival this month, with a series of performances at Emirates Palace, a celebration of Indian culture, plus contemporary art from the East and West. This year’s festival is also a special one, because it coincides with the Year Of Zayed, which will be celebrated throughout. Here’s your guide to the key events taking place this month.

The top five dates for your diary

The Merchants Of Bollywood


A lively song and dance extravaganza, choreographed by Vaibhavi Merchant, that celebrates the world’s most prolific film industry and traces the story of her family, who have been Bollywood choreography royalty for generations. A riot of swirling colour, vibrant costumes and sensational dance numbers, it’s one for all the family. India is this year’s Country Of Honour at the fesival.
March 8 to 9
Emirates Palace Auditorium, West Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi, 8pm, Dhs125 to Dhs350 Tel: (050) 1299103. Taxi: Emirates Palace. abudhabifestival.ae

From Barcelona To Abu Dhabi exhibition

The Barcelona Museum Of Contemporary Art is showcasing 90 years of European works alongside pieces from 20 Emirati artists. The exhibition includes workshops and talks such as Collecting Contemporary Art, on March 9. Led by Barcelona-based art critic Montse Badia and a UAE-based collector, it explores European and Middle Eastern perspectives of traditional art as well as 21st century works.
Until March 17
Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, various times for talks, free entry. Tel: (050) 1299103 Taxi: Manarat Al Saadiyat. abudhabifestival.ae

Pink Martini Live


A self-described “little orchestra” from Portland, Oregon, that sees Ari Shapiro, Ikram Goldman and Timothy Nishimoto take the stage for an evening that mixes classical, jazz and pop standards. The dynamic band have shared the stage with more than 50 of the world’s most prestigious symphony orchestras and have collaborated with acclaimed artists like North American singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright.
March 21
Emirates Palace Auditorium, West Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi, 8pm, Dhs125 to Dhs350. Tel: (050) 1299103. Taxi: Emirates Palace. abudhabifestival.ae

The Sarod Master: Ustad Amjad Ali Khan


The sarod, a stringed instrument, is fundamental to Indian classical music, shaping the character of a song through its deep sound. One of the most distinguished masters in the world of Indian classical music, Amjad Ali Khan is revered as the sarod master. For one night only, he’ll be performing in the capital.
March 25
Emirates Palace Auditorium, West Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi, 8pm, Dhs200. Tel: (050) 1299103. Taxi: Emirates Palace. abudhabifestival.ae

Don Quixote – Compañía Nacional de Danza


A vivid tale of imagination, friendship, love and loyalty, this famed ballet tells the story of Miguel de Cervantes’ romantic knight Don Quixote. It’s a vibrant interpretation that elegantly captures classic Franco-Russian choreography.
March 29
Emirates Palace Auditorium, West Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi, 8pm, Dhs125 to Dhs350 Tel: (050) 1299103. Taxi: Emirates Palace. abudhabifestival.ae

Musical events not to miss

Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia – Rome

The Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia is one of the oldest musical institutions in the world. Audiences can watch 22-year-old pianist Beatrice Rana performing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, while Kyung Wha Chung demonstrates why she is regarded as one of the greatest violinists of her generation, bringing her uniquely expressive, intense excitement to a performance of Brahms’ Violin Concerto.
March 11 to 12
Emirates Palace Auditorium, West Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi, 8pm, Dhs125 to Dhs350. Tel: (050) 1299103. Taxi: Emirates Palace. abudhabifestival.ae

Waves Of My Life by Emirati composer Ihab Darwish with the Beethoven Academy Orchestra


Bringing together classical and contemporary influences, Emirati composer Ihab Darwish makes his world premiere of Waves Of My Life, an album inspired by his home country and performed by the Beethoven Academy Orchestra and guest musicians.
March 14
Emirates Palace Auditorium, West Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi, 8pm, free but registration required. Tel: (050) 1299103. Taxi: Emirates Palace. abudhabifestival.ae

Singing The Legends: A Night Of Jazz With Omar Kamal

Palestinian singer and composer Omar Kamal is known for his eclectic catalogue of songs and captivating performances that range from Sinatra’s jazz and swing to tunes from timeless Arab idols like Mohammed Abdel Wahab and Fairouz.
Emirates Palace Auditorium, West Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi, 8pm, Dhs200. Tel: (050) 1299103. Taxi: Emirates Palace. abudhabifestival.ae

Festival In The Park


The capital’s outdoor musical celebration is back with live performances, film screenings and workshops. Learn the best of Bollywood dance in a workshop with choreographer Gilles Chuyen while multimedia artist Zahed Sultan presents his latest audio-visual work ‘Hiwar’, a reinterpretation of traditional Khaleeji songs with contemporary arrangements.
March 22 to 23
Umm Al Emarat Park, Abu Dhabi, 6pm to 8pm, free entry (Dhs5 park entry fee). Tel: (050) 1299103. Taxi: Mushrif Park. abudhabifestival.ae

The Festival Recital Series

The Recital Series returns with six pianists from the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel (QEMC) as they take the stage for The Bach Project alongside the Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie, led by pianist Frank Braley, and QEMC’s master-in-residence Louis Lortie.
March 28
The Arts Center, NYU Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, 8pm, Dhs100. Tel: (050) 1299103. Taxi: NYU Abu Dhabi. abudhabifestival.ae

ADMAF 2018: The Year Of Zayed


Just like many other events in the UAE this year, the 2018 edition of the Abu Dhabi Festival has a very special theme – The Year Of Zayed. This edition celebrates the life of the country’s founding father, who would have been 100 years old this year. The festival will hold events it believes will instil wisdom, determination, loyalty and sense of belonging, qualities the late Sheikh Zayed always believed in and promoted.

Until March 30
For more info and to book tickets, head to abudhabifestival.ae

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