Following a raucous reception at the 10th-anniversary celebration which took place last year, the InClassica International Music Festival recently returned to Dubai for its 11th edition, with a ground-breaking 26 days of consecutive evening concerts, featuring 50 acclaimed soloists, 3 international orchestras, and a total of 11 celebrated conductors.
In 2021, the InClassica International Music Festival marked its 10th year anniversary by shifting premises, moving to the Middle East for the first instance in its history in what was seen by many at the time to be a risky move. However, the festival soon proved doubters wrong, with a glamourous, sold-out spectacle of music and culture that rivalled any of those held in other music capitals of the world, marking the largest gathering of top artists and ensembles ever seen.
Recently, building on the back of this success, InClassica was back in Dubai once again, featuring another record-breaking congregation of legendary musicians from all four corners of the world. Having kicked off on the 8th of May, the festival presented evening concerts at the Dubai Opera for four consecutive weeks, with this unparalleled celebration of classical music coming to a close on the 2nd of June.
In all, InClassica 2022 welcomed an incredible 50 globally-acclaimed soloists by the end of its run, with its groundbreaking 26 concerts showcasing appearances by three full-scale international ensembles – the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Symphony Orchestra and Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra – who were led by no fewer than 11 celebrated conductors, with names like Gianluca Marcianò, Sergey Smbatyan, Marius Stravinsky, Gergely Madaras, Dmitry Yablonksy, Daniel Raiskin and many others, decorating the festival’s daily programmes.
For this year’s event, all concerts were held exclusively at the spectacular Dubai Opera, with some of the headlining soloists at this lavish venue including:
- Grammy Award-winner and Avery Fisher Prize-recipient, violinist Gil Shaham (USA);
- Echo-Preis Klassik Award and German Music Critics’ Best Recording of the Year Award,
- world famous Turkish pianist and composer Fazil Say (Turkey);
- Metropolitan Opera Star, Grammy-nominated exclusive Decca Classics recording artist,
- Winner of the 1998 Caruso Competition in Milan, recipient of the 2014 International
- Opera Awards’ Readers’ Award, lyric tenor Joseph Calleja (Malta);
- Gold Medal and First Prize winner of the 1978 Tchaikovsky International Piano
- Competition, Founder and Artistic Director of the Russian National Orchestra, renowned
- pianist Mikhail Pletnev (Switzerland);
- Prize Winner at the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition (2011) and 13th Van
- Cliburn International Piano Competition (2009), pianist Yeol Eum Son (South Korea);
- Exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist, 2016 Vladimir Spivakov International Violin Competition Winner and ‘Young Artist of the Year 2017’ award recipient at the Festival of Nations, virtuoso violinist Daniel Lozakovich (Sweden).
The concerts, which were streamed live on Euronews, as well as Medici.tv and The Violin Channel, presented music from across the entire gamut of the classical world, with works from seminal favourites like Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Bach, Brahms, and many others, being performed alongside modern and contemporary pieces, including numerous offerings from the pen of Composer-in-Residence Alexey Shor.
In addition to this exceptional concert series, InClassica 2022 also incorporated another two events within its run, further bolstering its efforts to turn the UAE into a global hub of classical music. The first of these was the third edition of the Classic Strings International Competition, which marked the grandest and most ambitious iteration of this event yet, comprising two separate competitions, for violin and cello respectively, which were held simultaneously at the Dubai Knowledge Park and the Theatre at the Mall of the Emirates, with the finale for each hosted at the 5-star Jumeirah Zabeel Saray’s lavishly-prepared Music Hall.
Together, these two contests represented the two largest competitions for these instruments that the Middle East has ever seen, and boasted a list of jurors, as well as a total prize fund, to match! In fact, some of the biggest names active in the violin and cello worlds travelled to Dubai to preside over the contests, which saw competitors being challenged to put their abilities to the test over three rigorous rounds, with a prize fund of €320,000 being awarded to the most accomplished of them.
This included a €100,000 prize for each winner, divided into a €50,000 cash prize, and a tour of 10 concerts with an honorarium of €5,000 per concert, as well as additional prizes for the second and third-ranked participants, and a number of special prizes in recognition of different achievements.
The second subsidiary event, meanwhile, was the Middle East Classical Music Academy (MECMA), which was already no stranger to the UAE. Like InClassica itself, the 2021 inaugural edition of the MECMA was met with extensive acclaim from all quarters, and in 2022 the Academy, which is still a wholly unique initiative in this region, returned for a second year, graciously supported by the Fujairah Fine Arts Academy and under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Hamad al Sharqi.
Featuring a series of masterclasses in the schools of piano and violin, this year’s Academy was bigger than ever before, with its activities no longer restricted to Dubai, but being spread out across the entirety of the UAE. In all, a total of four different emirates played host to the MECMA, namely, Abu Dhabi, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman, with each emirate also presenting a number of Academy concerts headlined by the professors themselves alongside the Middle East Orchestra, which was specifically created for this very occasion.
“From its inception as a relatively small event so many years ago, the InClassica International Music Festival has always represented a daring new approach to classical music, one which cherishes the history and tradition of this world, while having the courage to try new things and experiment in different directions. Our decision to bring InClassica to the Middle East for its 10th-anniversary edition was directly characteristic of this mindset, and the success of that endeavour, both for our festival and for classical music in this region, shows that sometimes fortune does truly favour the bold! Now, InClassica is back in Dubai, having taken the lessons learnt from last year to present a festival that is bigger and better than ever! From the quality of the artists performing to the splendid beauty of Dubai’s venues, I am so happy to say that this 11th edition of our festival has proven to be as unique and memorable as any before it, and I firmly hope that all those who joined us enjoyed a delightful experience at our shared celebration of the beauty of classical music” – Konstantin Ishkhanov, President of the InClassica International Music Festival.
InClassica 2022 kicked off on the 8th of May and ran until the 2nd of June. For more information about the festival, please visit the official website here.