Berlin Philharmonic returns to Arab world

Sir Simon Rattle conducts the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra during a concert in Abu Dhabi. The Concert in Abu Dhabi marks the return of one of the world's most famous Orchestras to Arab world, 42 years after its appearance at the historical site of Baalbek in Lebanon under the conduct of Herbert Von Karajan. (AFP)

The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra returned to the Arab world for the first time in 42 years with a concert in Abu Dhabi.

Under the baton of British conductor Sir Simon Rattle it performed classics by Joseph Haydn, Johannes Brahms, Alban Berg and contemporary composer Brett Dean at the Tuesday evening concert at the opulent Emirates Palace hotel.

The last time the orchestra performed in an Arab country was at the 1968 Baalbek International Festival in Lebanon, where it was conducted by Herbert von Karajan.

It also played in Tehran in 1975.

The Abu Dhabi concert was part of the Symphonic Masterworks concert series, which will include a January 28 performance by Staatskapelle Berlin with Daniel Barenboim conducting, and a March 3 concert by famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Abu Dhabi is aiming to establish itself as a regional cultural centre. It staged a modern art exhibition, Abu Dhabi Art, last week and the Abu Dhabi International Film Festival in October.

The city is also constructing a ‘cultural district’ on Saadiyat Island, which is to include eight museums, among them branches of the Guggenheim and Louvre.

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