A Musical Performance Fit for Royalty

When you are tasked with creating an engaging component for the Launch of UK/ UAE which will be attended by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and asked to deliver within 7 weeks you need to think very fast. As Country Arts Manager it was important that anything we did had relevance to the overall Season programming while simultaneously managing to create impact for participants, circumventing the trap off a once off event that was unsustainable. I was already working with The BBC Symphony Orchestra on their 2017 visit with the Proms to Dubai Opera and as we had pre-programmed a significant portion of the educational and outreach aspect in advance, it made complete sense to kick start this model earlier than planned. Schedules and rotas were furiously checked and hey presto we secured a Duo to undertake a 4 day residential with the Senior Strings Ensemble from the Centre for Musical Arts in Dubai. This was the perfect way to introduce the group to the BBCSO in order for them to get the most out of the full orchestra visit. It had the dual effect of allowing the Duo to gain “on the ground insight” into the local culture in order to be more prepared for their subsequent visit next March.

The Nature of any Royal Visit means that security is paramount and communications surrounding the event are very tightly controlled. The Students, The Orchestra Duo and CMA Staff knew we were asking them to collaborate on a performance for VIP’s in an undisclosed location but that was as much information as we could share. The teenagers were so excited at the opportunity to perform with their aspirational heroes from a world renowned Orchestra, the secrecy surrounding the fact that their audience would be comprised of members of the highest echelons of Royalty completely escaped them. From a British Council perspective this was reassuring that the value of positioning the UK as the partner of choice takes precedence over the allure of monarchs. Needless to say when the news finally broke through the media about their identity of our guests, excitement levels at CMA were palpable in Sharjah. As we speak The Students are working hard on their repertoire of Mozart and Teleman in anticipation of their inaugural performance. I for one can’t wait.

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