Abu Dhabi Festival

“Ah bu Dhabi, You bu Dhabi, They bu Dhabi, too!”

Al out for a walk in Abu Dhabi

We just left a whirlwind visit to Abu Dhabi, which is the capital of the United Arab Emirates, a country the size of South Carolina that forms the southeast shore of the Persian Gulf. What an amazing trip that still has us all spinning and wondering if we were really there.

An 11 hour time difference had us all upside down as we had a day of press, meeting the media in the region and learning about this festival and the people. I got the chance to speak with some high school and college students about the importance of these events that foster our individual expressions of beauty and art and culture. Thank you, Matt Barley, for your cello and the interview.

This Abu Dhabi Festival is taking on such a wonderful task of bringing musicians from around the world into its arms, saying, “Yes! Thank you! We value your music, and we want to share it with our people. We want our people to share their music with you!” Yes. Wonderful. So important. We in the west know so little about the countries and peoples in this area that to have this well-organized occasion to exchange ideas and information and MUSIC is a great opportunity, and I’m so proud that they invited me to be a part of it. Several times I took the opportunity to express to all of them especially their press and media how wonderful it is that they are making this wonderful outreach as Muslims to the rest of the world. This is so important. I wish, I also said several times, that NBC, CBS, CNN, Associated Press, would be here and reporting on this stuff. THIS is the stuff that builds bridges. The night before us, the Moscow Symphony performed Beethoven’s Fifth. Earlier in the week there was a ballet performance. Later in the week there will be a Shakespeare production—What a festival!

My band arrived just a night before the show. They were in the hotel just long enough to shower and see the beautiful palm trees and have a bite to eat before heading for sound check—Thank you, band! They were really burnin’. It was an intermission set, and it seemed like the first half just passed by so quickly. I had never played in this part of the world before, and was so happy to find them invite me in, cheer for the music, and interact with me from stage. Lots of people from The Emirates, and lots of people from around the world who have followed jobs here, or are on vacation. Everyone is caught up in the magical atmosphere created by the hotel.

The band seemed to give something a little extra tonight. If they were going to come to the other side of the world for one night, they were going to make that night full of special music. And they did. It’s hard to single somebody out, but Joe Turano really had a noteworthy solo on She’s Leaving Home. He takes two solos during the song, and by the end of that second one, the audience was cheering so loud and so hard I closed my eyes and woke up in an arena full of people. You go, Joe.

The night ended with a wish for a quick return, a promise to spread the word about the great cultural outreach going on in Abu Dhabi, and a beautiful gift of robes for me and my wife. Thank you, Abu Dhabi!

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