Page 79 - Simply Abu Dhabi Magazine II

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Simply AD: being born and raised in the U.A.E. What
was your introduction to classical music? And how was this
I am very lucky to have been raised by extremely well-
rounded parents who showed me all sorts of music,
which is why I have never really seen a divide between a
classical work and a more popular song – music is music
to me. I was brought up hearing everything; from Bach to
Chopin, to Jeff Buckley and Nat King Cole! I was given
Piano lessons from the age of six but my real passion for it
grew quite subconsciously; music was played a lot around
the house and in the car taking me places. It would take
me to a place that no other music could and I started to
like that place a lot. I then wanted to be able to move
people the same way music moved and moves me. I learnt
about music and the piano obsessively – sometimes for 14
hours a day.
By the time I was in my early teens I found myself doing
things professionals twice my age were complaining
about, with relative ease. I was then told that I had a
prodigious gift and attended the Piano Festival at the
Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester where I played
to some of the best pianists in the world. (I was delighted
to open this very same festival five years later with Busoni’s
colossal Piano Concerto). The professors at the festival
advised me to seriously consider a career in music and after
winning a regional competition I was advised by the jury
to go to Chetham’s, where I was awarded a scholarship to
at the age of 16. I finished my A-levels there and am now
a 3rd year Bursary Student of the Royal Northern College
of Music in Manchester.
Simply AD: what was the u.A.E. Like for an aspiring
musician while you were growing up?
There was really very little available, this was before
YouTube, iPods and mp3 downloads, before everything
was instantly accessible. There were no shops to buy
manuscript from, and recordings were limited to a
couple of very well known works that I already had.
Looking back; this in a way probably attracted me to this
mysterious music that I (and it seemed at the time, only I)
was so passionate about. Despite not attending a specialist
music school or conservatoire till 16 (relatively very late,
for someone with a soloist career in mind) when I was
growing up, the atmosphere of the U.A.E was amazing.
This was a country that was saying no to all obstacles in
their way and saying ‘can’ and ‘possible’ to everything; the
confidence certainly rubbed off.
I also wasn’t too aware of what the normal repertoire
and ability of a 15 year old for instance, was. I ended up
learning things like the Third Rachmaninov Concerto
(I played the Finale for my GCSE music performance),
and the Prokofiev Second Concerto. I later found out
that they are probably the hardest works in the Concerto
repertoire, for any age! I probably wouldn’t have taken
them up if I had people constantly telling me it was
‘unrealistic’ or that its ‘impossible’ for someone my age
to do that, so I am very grateful to my surroundings for
the confidence I was given, and how this allowed me to
explore my potential to the full. The U.A.E is known for
many things, but classical music was definitely not one
of them growing up, although that is changing, very very
quickly, thanks to some remarkable developments that are
happening right here in the U.A.E.
Simply AD: talk about some of the classical music events
happening in Abu Dhabi at the moment:
In only a few years, Abu Dhabi’s (and its neighbouring
emirate, Al Ain’s) cultural and musical life has been
given a boost that sees it hosting the most ambitious
and internationally acclaimed musical calendar in the
history of the region and has really put the emirate on the
cultural map, globally. The Abu Dhabi festival, and Abu
Dhabi Classics (teaming up with the Al Ain Classics)
has attracted many famous conductors and orchestras;
Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskappel Berlin, Sir Simon
Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic, Kristjan Jarvi and
the London Symphony Orchestra, Zubin Mehta and
the Vienna Philharmonic, and Vladimir Jurowski and
the London Philharmonic Orchestra just to name a few.
They performed symphonies often heard for the first time
in this region, and Concerti with the best soloists in the
world; classical A-listers like Arcardi Volodos, Yo-Yo ma,
Lang Lang and many others.
People living in the country no longer have to rely on T.V,
internet and recordings to experience this music - they
can now HEAR it live and first hand in beautiful and
unique surroundings and venues; very few people can say
they have heard the Vienna Philharmonic play Strauss in
an Arabian Fort in the middle of a desert oasis, or hear
a Beethoven Concerto in the lavish Emirates Palace.
The concerts at the Emirates Palace, an atmosphere fit
for kings, reminds one of the royal origin of some of the
classical music repertoire that was commissioned by kings,
queens and nobility, and often performed in their courts,
and palaces.
How can these developments influence the youth and
population of the U.A.E?
A big part of their budget is devoted to Educational
Outreach, where people like Daniel Barenboim and Lang
Lang have run educational workshops, masterclasses and
locally relevant performances such as Mozart’s Marriage
of Figaro in Arabic, two years ago. Both the performances
and educational side of the festival can fuel the curiosity
of people and the young with inspiration when witnessing
the highest levels of music making that the artists bring to
the stage. The audiences at the concerts are wonderfully
eclectic - when I played in the Al-Ain classics, I was
delighted to see that the audience consisted of teenagers
to professionals, men and women in suits and dresses
and locals in traditional Arabic garments, it’s really quite
a unique and beautiful thing to see interest from people
belonging to every background and age. The U.A.E is a
very international country, and music is an international
language; a very welcome and perfect fit.
Born in Dubai, U.A.E in 1990, Arsha Kaviani is one of
the most promising young artists of his generation- he is
captivating audiences worldwide, with his virtuosity and
musical sensitivity, his own compositions, and some of the
most demanding works in the musical literature. At only
16 he gave his critically acclaimed debut with the Istanbul
Symphony Orchestra and Alexander Rahbari in one of
the most challenging works in the history of the piano
repertoire; the Prokofiev 2nd Concerto. Since then he
has performed concerti with orchestras and solo recitals
internationally (including Moscow, London, Dubai,
Manchester, Istanbul and Vienna).
ABU DHABI is attracting some of the world’s greatest musical minds and
classical musicians to the U.A.E. Audiences of the region can experience
the greatest orchestras, conductors and soloists from all over the world. We
speak to the prodigious U.A.E-born pianist Arsha Kaviani on what it was
like to grow up in the Emirates as an aspiring concert pianist, and what is
happening there right now.