RIYADH: The finale of the 10-day Riyadh International Book Fair was accompanied by a live orchestral performance of music by German film-score composer Hans Zimmer. Fireworks lit up the skies above the venue, Princess Nourah University, as the music reached a crescendo inside.
The show was part of the World of Hans Zimmer: A Symphonic Celebration tour, which resumed on Sept. 21 in Lyon, France, after it was interrupted by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In reference to this, promoter SEMMEL described it as “the first international concert tour after one-and-a-half years of silence.”
The tour features friends and colleagues of the composer, though the Academy Award-winning Zimmer does not appear in person, as he has on other tours. Instead the show presents a selection of his works arranged for a live symphony orchestra, directed by Gavin Greenaway.
“Assalamo alaikum,” Greenaway said he stepped onto the stage in Riyadh for what was his first performance in the Kingdom. “It’s a great, great pleasure and privilege to be here tonight.”
Arguably one of the most influential composers of his generation, Zimmer is known for combining electronic music with traditional orchestral arrangements. Since he began to compose music for films in the 1980s, he has composed the scores for more than 150 films, including Disney classics such as “The Lion King” and The Pirates of the Caribbean series, along with “Gladiator,” “Interstellar,” “Dunkirk” and, most recently, the latest James Bond movie “No Time to Die,” and sci-fi epic “Dune.”
About 1,000 publishing houses participated in the 10-day Riyadh International Book Fair, which concluded on Sunday, including publishers from France, Italy, India, Australia and the US, as local readers welcomed an influx of international literature on a scale never before seen in the Kingdom.
Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, the Saudi minister of culture officially opened the event on Sept. 30, welcoming writers, publishers and other cultural figures and leaders from around the world.
The fair included cultural exhibitions, guest lecturers, interactive games, children’s events and reading stations. During 12 discussion sessions, 42 speakers from Saudi Arabia and other countries debated the local and regional publishing industries and ways in which their shortcomings might be addressed as part of efforts to boost their contributions to Arab cultural development.