AR Rahman’s orchestra captivates crowd at Expo 2020

Concert marks the end of the Space Week.

An out of the world musical experience marked the end of the Space Week at Expo 2020 on Saturday night as Firdaus Orchestra led by Academy and Grammy award winning musical composer AR Rahman lifted the audience to a different plane.

True to the theme, the stage was illuminated with visuals from the space – celestial bodies orbiting the outer world – in the backdrop.

The pioneering all-women ensemble Rahman was mentoring for over a year played a mix of contemporary as well as classic pieces including one of his original composition to a packed audience. The performance marked the closing of the Space Week – one of the theme weeks that is part of the People and Planet programme at Expo 2020.

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The concert that started a little after 7pm saw Rahman’s ardent fans queueing up at the Jubilee Park since early evening to get a glimpse of the music legend.

When the Mozart of Madras, as he is popularly known as, made his appearance to introduce the orchestra, an ecstatic audience roared in applause.

“I want to thank Expo for giving me the opportunity to put together this project,” said Rahman as he thanked everyone who supported him in the Firdaus journey.

The concert began with a short peice titled A Space Odyssey – Zarathustra followed by the theme music from the Bollywood blockbuster Bombay, a hugely popular work by the maestro.

The one-hour performance also saw the orchestra led by conductor Yasmina Sabbah perform music from Star Wars and ET – Adventures on Earth, Turkish March, Karl Jenkins’ Palladio, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.

The highlight of the night was Rahman’s original piece A Humanitas-Proorismós-Al Amal, a work he said inspired by the stars, planets and space exploration.

He says: Humanitas-Proorismós-Al Amal is an ode to the explorers of space. I’ve been trying to write it for the past three months; I had a lot of ideas. For the first Firdaus Orchestra concert, I wanted to do something for Space Week, so this is a 15-minute piece inspired by the endeavours of space from the East,” Rahman said.

“There’s the sense of poetry, and a sense of deep spirituality when you see the planets and space. So how would an Indian sound or Eastern sound come together with a Western orchestra or Middle Eastern instruments? That was the idea, and it’s an experiment. I hope people like it,” Rahman said in a media statement.


Anjana Sankar

Anjana Sankar is a UAE-based journalist chasing global stories of conflict, migration and human rights. She has reported from the frontlines of the wars in Yemen and Syria and has extensively written on the refugee crisis in Bangladesh, Iraq and Europe. From interviewing Daesh militants to embedding with the UAE army in Yemen, and covering earthquakes, floods, terrorist attacks and elections, she has come out scathe-free from the most dangerous conflict zones of the world. Riding on over 14 years of experience, Anjana currently is an Assistant Editor with Khaleej Times and leads the reporting team. She often speaks about women empowerment on her Facebook page that has 40,000 plus followers.

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