The prestigious Abu Dhabi Festival Award, designed and created by Maison Chopard, was presented to the remarkable Paloma O'Shea, Founder and Current Principal of the distinguished Reina Sofía School of Music, for her outstanding lifetime of support for classical music.

H.E. Huda I. Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation, and Founder and Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival, handed the award to Ms. Paloma O’Shea in Madrid at the Reina Sofía School of Music and in the presence of His Excellency the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates in Spain, Mr. Majid Al-Suwaidi, and the Vice President of the Albéniz Foundation, an institution that directs and manages the Reina Sofia School of Music, and who was Minister of Justice of the Government of Spain and Mayor of Madrid, Mr. Alberto Ruiz Gallardón.

H.E. Huda I. Alkhamis-Kanoo said, “Paloma O’Shea has devoted her life to nurturing young musicians and cultivating a thriving classical music scene throughout her beautiful nation and beyond.

Her tireless devotion to music began early when she established the Santander International Piano Competition, a prize coveted around the world.

As the founder of the Reina Sofia School of Music, Paloma O’Shea has given countless young musicians from around the world the opportunity to study with the great masters and to showcase their talent internationally.

As we celebrate the Reina Sofia School of Music’s 30th anniversary, we are proud to continue our long partnership and to recognise Paloma O’Shea’s remarkable contributions to classical music,” H.E. concluded.

When receiving the award, Paloma O'Shea said, “I am deeply grateful to H.E. Huda I. Alkhamis-Kanoo both for the prestigious award she has given me and for the support that the Abu Dhabi Festival gives to the Reina Sofía School, which, thanks to this collaboration, can take its orchestra on tour through the main concert halls of Europe. Receiving the Abu Dhabi Festival Award is an immense honour for me, because I know first-hand the artistic quality of this admirable festival. I congratulate H.E. with all my heart for this great service she does to her country and to the international musical culture”.

His Excellency Majid Al Suwaidi, the UAE Ambassador to Spain, said, “We commend the role Abu Dhabi Festival plays in promoting multiculturalism in the UAE and raising awareness about it in countries abroad. Awarding one of the most celebrated artists in Spain, Ms. Paloma O’Shea, as well as supporting the Freixent Orchestra tour, reflect ADMAF’s commitment to the arts and culture industry not only on a local level but also internationally.

The Freixent Orchestra event would not have been possible without the enthusiastic support of Abu Dhabi Festival in collaboration with Reina Sofia School of Music, two institutions with shared values and an unerring commitment to promote cross-cultural sharing through music.

More than six years ago, The Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation, whose flagship is Abu Dhabi Festival, signed an agreement to collaboratively support intercultural exchange through classical music and the performing arts, allowing the UAE to become the first Arab country to participate in the School’s activities. After such a long time of venues being closed, we cherish the return of Abu Dhabi Festival to stages around the world. It is a clear sign of the strong friendship that bonds the Festival and the Reina Sofia School, as well as a reflection of the excellent state of bilateral relations between Spain and the UAE.
Let this concert be a celebration of our friendship, and a symbol of hope for the future.”

Abu Dhabi Festival’s relationship with Mrs. O’Shea dates back to her first participation in the Festival’s Riwaq Al Fikr talks series in 2014. The following year, she signed an agreement with H.E. Huda I. Alkhamis-Kanoo to cultivate cross-cultural exchange and intercultural dialogue between Abu Dhabi Festival and the Reina Sofía School of Music.

The Abu Dhabi Festival Award, which has become synonymous with cultural excellence, was inaugurated in 2012 in association with Chopard, and is bestowed each year upon individuals for their exceptional lifetime contributions to the arts.

Abu Dhabi Festival is supported by its Lead Partner Mubadala Investment Company (Mubadala), the Energy Partner GS Energy, and the Award Partner, Chopard.


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