To celebrate the artistic links between Spain and the Arab world, the Emirates Palace Theatre in Abu Dhabi played host to a symphony orchestra featuring Andalusian music by Spanish and Arab musicians.
On the 8th of October, the ‘Cordoba Nights’ event took place at Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace Theatre, part of the Andalusia: History and Civilisation Initiative, designed to highlight the Arab impact on Spanish arts, featuring Arab and Spanish orchestra conductors and musicians.
The line-up blended traditional sounds, drawing from Andalusian heritage. Collaborating for the evening were the Spanish Royal Orchestra, under the direction of Inma Shara, and an Arab music collective led by composer Jafar Sadiq.
The broader aim of the event centered on emphasizing the cultural connections between the UAE and Spain. In remarks, Al Murr touched upon the integration of Arab and Spanish elements characteristic of Andalusian arts.
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Andalusia: a rich artistic legacy
In 711 AD, Umayyad troops crossed the Strait of Gibraltar, marking the beginning of a 781-year period of Muslim rule. This epoch is not just remembered for its political and military events, but also for the vibrant cultural and intellectual life that flourished in Al-Andalus following the confluence of Islamic, Christian, and Jewish cultures which led to an artistic and intellectual renaissance. The architectural marvels, such as the Alhambra in Granada and the Mezquita in Córdoba, are testaments to the intricate art and craftsmanship of the era.
Central to the artistic contributions of Al Andalus is the ‘Muwashahat’ – a genre of poetic songs. This form of art combined classical Arabic poetry with Andalusian musical modes, creating a distinctive blend that continues to influence modern Arabic music such as Malouf in the Maghreb region. The lyrical themes, typically focusing on love and nature, were accompanied by complex rhythms and melodies. Another characteristic of Andalusian music is the ‘Zajal’, a colloquial counterpart to the Muwashahat, known for its more casual, vernacular style. Both forms have become cornerstones of the Andalusian musical legacy, influencing contemporary genres across the Arab world.