Dubai Opera head lauds local art scene as BBC Proms wraps up

The Dubai Opera in Downtown Dubai. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 March 2019
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Dubai Opera head lauds local art scene as BBC Proms wraps up

  • The BBC Proms has only left London three times
  • It first showed in Dubai in 2017

DUBAI: The metropolitan nature of Dubai made it the perfect spot for the BBC Proms’ international lineup of musical acts, which took place at the Dubai Opera from March 19-22, according to the venue’s chief executive.

Although the BBC Proms — one of the biggest classical musical festivals in the world — has only left London three times, it has universal appeal because of its “internationality of music,” Jasper Hope, chief executive of Dubai Opera, told Arab News.

“The Proms features musicians from Sweden and the UK, among other countries, as well as the likes of Bushra El-Turk, a British composer with roots in the Middle East,” Hope said.

To add more of a local twist to the British festival, Dubai Opera formed the “Dubai Opera Festival Chorus,” a singing group composed of local residents who performed alongside world-class musicians at the Proms.

Asked when the group will perform in any other shows, Hope said: “When you have formed a really talented group, you know you have to continue going,” without giving specific details on future performances.

Hope was particularly excited that they have managed to bring the BBC Proms back for the second time, only two years after its Middle East debut in 2017.  Hope recalled the debut event, saying much of the crowd were first timers.

“The BBC Proms is all about making classical music accessible to everyone… People can be nervous when attending something called an opera,” he said, as he emphasized Dubai Opera’s role in “inspiring (the) local community to take interest” in the culture and arts scene.

Established in 1895, the BBC Proms is based predominantly in London’s Royal Albert Hall. It was derived from the British tradition of “promming,” usually held in public gardens around London. 


What We Are Reading Today: Air Traffic by Gregory Pardlo

Updated 22 April 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Air Traffic by Gregory Pardlo

  • The author examines the ramifications of the episode on his family’s legacy, then expands to consider questions of race, addiction and fatherhood

Air Traffic is a courageously written book that chronicles among other things Gregory Pardlo’s complex relationship with members of his family, particularly his father and younger brother.

Gregory Pardlo’s father was one of the thousands of air traffic controllers fired in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan. The author examines the ramifications of the episode on his family’s legacy, then expands to consider questions of race, addiction and fatherhood.

Pardlo “is a talented writer and he examines so many issues in this memoir — race, economics, manhood, addiction, family and sibling relationships, marriage and parenthood,” says a review published in goodreads.com. A review published in The New York Times, Janet Maslin said: “The book is centered on the troubled relationship between the author and his father, although it roams freely in many other directions ... Simple description does not do Pardlo’s story justice; only his own sublime words can achieve that.” The review added: “When Pardlo won the Pulitzer in 2015 for his collection Digest, the citation praised his ‘clear-voiced poems that bring readers the news from 21st-century America, rich with thought, ideas and histories public and private.’ Replace the word ‘poems’ with the word “essays,” and you have an apt description of the second part of Air Traffic.”