As part of the exclusive commissions and joint productions of its 19th edition, held under the theme "Crafting the Emirates State of Mind: Creation, Innovation and Joy", the Abu Dhabi Festival is announcing the broadcast of the world premiere of Symphony of Three: Peace, Love, Tolerance by visionary Emirati composer Ihab Darwish, in collaboration with Emmy Award-winning composer John Debney and Academy Award-winning composer David Shire. The show will be streamed on 30 December at 6pm (GST) via Abu Dhabi Festival's YouTube channel.
H.E. Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation, Founder and Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival, said: “The Abu Dhabi Festival commission and production of Symphony of Three: Peace, Love, Tolerance is a testament to the UAE’s commitment to tolerance and peaceful coexistence which enables over 200 nationalities to live and work in harmony. We are proud to play a role in the realisation of the historic symphony by the pioneering Emirati composer Ihab Darwish in collaboration with American composers, Emmy-winning John Debney and Academy Award-winning David Shire.
The Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation is committed to the advancement of Abu Dhabi’s cultural vision pioneered by the UAE’s Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and championed by the nation’s wise leadership. The first-of-its-kind symphony celebrates unity among diversity by bringing together world-renowned international composers, musicians, and vocal ensembles and demonstrates in four movements the power of music to transcend borders and connect people around the world while spreading a hopeful message of peace, coexistence, and shared humanity”.
The unique symphony won Emirati composer Ihab Darwish a nomination for the Best New/ Emerging Composer award at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards.
Darwish said, “I am happy to be part of this symphony which reflects the values of humanity: love, peace, tolerance, and coexistence that the United Arab Emirates adopts under the wise vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE.”
Darwish thanked Abu Dhabi Festival and the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation for their role in leading and sustaining the cultural scene, in addition to their great support for the creation of Symphony of Three, one of the most prominent works of exclusive commission by Abu Dhabi Festival, which provides a unique journey overcoming differences between people.
The Beethoven Academy Orchestra, led by Maestro Diego Navarro, along with notable international composers, musicians, and choirs from diverse backgrounds join hands for the extraordinary symphony, making it a living embodiment of the Emirati values of peace, tolerance, and coexistence.
Movements Love, Peace, and Tolerance
Symphony of Three is divided into four movements: Earth (Darwish), Peace (Shire), Love (Debney) and Tolerance (Darwish).
The symphony opens with the prologue “Earth”, followed by the second movement “Peace," composed by David Shire, an American songwriter and composer of stage musicals, film, and television scores since the early 1960s. Shire is the recipient of a Grammy and an Academy Award as well as multiple Tony and Emmy nominations.
The third movement, “Love” was composed by John Debney, composer, soundtrack composer, and one of the most prolific and successful composers in Hollywood. He is also a multi-award winner with three Primetime Emmy awards and an Academy award nomination.
The fourth and final movement "Tolerance" was composed by Emirati composer Ihab Darwish, a member of the prestigious Grammy Awards Academy, and the first Emirati to be awarded this recognition by the Academy.
Darwish's music combines classical and contemporary styles, tradition and modernity, and grand patriotic themes with intimate and personal pieces recorded in a melodic and cinematic orchestra. His music is deeply rooted in Emirati values and traditions.
Darwish’s previous collaborations with Abu Dhabi Festival include major musical projects such as Waves of My Life and Hekayat: Symphonic Tales. The former was performed for the first time globally in 2018 in the Ballroom of the Emirates Palace Hotel, commissioned exclusively by the Abu Dhabi Festival. The album was released by Universal Music in nine tracks that mix Arabic and Western styles inspired by UAE and Darwish's memories. In 2021, Darwish led 128 musicians from 20 countries around the world to play 13 symphonic pieces titled Hekayat: Symphonic Tales in a captivating virtual show produced and commissioned exclusively by Abu Dhabi Festival.
About 300 musicians from different nationalities and cultures will participate in the world premiere of the symphony, to express in four movements the values of peace, love, and tolerance. In addition to the oriental drumming troupe, the show includes a choir of about 250 singers from Egypt, Scotland, Israel, Palestine, South Africa, and Lebanon, including Lebo M (South Africa), Sumi Jo (South Korea) Lisbeth Scott (USA), Sheikh Mahmoud Tohamy (Egypt), and Olivia Vote, Richard Bernstein, and Brenton Ryan from the New York Metropolitan Opera, to name a few.
The symphony is a co-production with Artwish Music and Events, Robert Townson who has produced a number of Academy-Award winning soundtracks, and Zofia Jeziorna, producer of concerts, events, and many international music projects. Jeziorna possesses great expertise and collaborates regularly with the orchestra of the Beethoven Academy, Ihab Darwish, and Artwish Music & Events
Abu Dhabi Festival Events
Abu Dhabi Festival is held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, Assistant to His Highness the President of the Authority for Women’s Affairs, and Chairperson of the Higher Committee for Ataya Initiative; with support from Abu Dhabi Festival's lead partner Mubadala Investment Company (Mubadala) and energy partner GS Energy.
Abu Dhabi Festival’s programme is part of the contribution that the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation makes to the UAE capital’s designation as a UNESCO City of Music, further bolstering its role as a world-leading musical centre and incubator of an innovation-based resilient and sustainable music ecosystem.