World’s first inter-faith symphony brings together renowned American and Emirati composers to celebrate unity and peace

Ihab Darwish releases his new Album ‘Abrahamic Symphony’ with Universal Music MENA.

For the first time in music history, three internationally renowned composers of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish faiths come together to celebrate peaceful coexistence and harmony among people. The Abrahamic Symphony, commissioned and produced by Abu Dhabi Festival, is the world’s first interfaith symphony composed by Grammy and Academy Award-winning David Shire, multi-Emmy award-winning John Debney, and acclaimed composer and Universal Music Artist Ihab Darwish, who recently became the first Emirati Grammy Voting Member. Co-produced by Darwish, Zofia Jeziorna and Hollywood legend Robert Townson, the ninety-one-minute stirring symphony features Europe’s leading Beethoven Academy Orchestra with over 60 musicians, 6 choirs of 250 vocalists, 12 instrumental soloists, 7 singers, and 5 poets from across the globe.

The unprecedented work was recorded in 24 studios around the world and is presented in four movements: Earth (prologue), Love (Christianity composed by Debney), Peace (Judaism composed by Shire), and Tolerance (Islam composed by Darwish). Inspired by the planned opening of the Abrahamic Family House which will be home to a mosque, church, synagogue, and educational centre on Saadiyat Island, the cultural heart of the United Arab Emirates’ capital city Abu Dhabi, the symphony aims to build bridges of dialogue and understanding by connecting people all over the world and is in line with the country’s efforts to nurture a culture of inclusivity and peaceful harmony.

Ihab Darwish, the Emirati composer whose music blends Arabic instruments and melodies with western classical music arrangements, released his first album Waves of My Life, supported by Abu Dhabi Festival (ADF) and distributed worldwide across numerous music platforms by Universal Music MENA, to broad critical acclaim. His Hekayat: Symphonic Tales saw his music traverse the globe in 13 compositions, performed by 128 musicians in 20 countries, capturing the musical traditions and cultures of five continents while making history as the first performance of its kind by an Emirati artist. The musicians, performers, and the orchestra were individually filmed in 21 cities around the world with each performance synchronized digitally, and innovative post-production technology placed the artists on a virtual 3D model of the stage. The concert was broadcast internationally and surpassed 10 million views.

Reflecting on the significance and the inspiration behind the project, Darwish, who credits Her Excellency Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) and Founder and Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival for making The Abrahamic Symphony possible with her faith and support said: “With everything happening in the world today, I wanted to send a message through music that as a society we can achieve the same kind of peaceful coexistence and brotherly love upheld by all three Abrahamic religions just as the symphony is able to capture the musical harmony of the Arabic traditional maqam melody when paired with Western operatic sounds. Additionally, my goal was to create a musical dialogue between choirs and acclaimed international star soloists from different continents and cultural backgrounds to demonstrate how music looks past what makes us different to draw us closer together through mutual understanding and appreciation.”

Her Excellency Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, who founded ADMAF in 1996 and the Abu Dhabi Festival in 2004 highlighted the important role the Festival plays in bringing renowned artists together to create original works that will leave a lasting impact for generations to come. Reflecting on the collaboration, she said: “For nearly two decades, Abu Dhabi Festival has partnered with the world to present, commission and produce new works by the most renowned talents both at home and abroad. As part of our commitment to strengthen Abu Dhabi and the UAE’s presence abroad with significant contributions to the global creative scene, we are pleased to present our commission and production of the historic Abrahamic Symphony, which brought together Grammy and Academy Award-winning composer David Shire and multi-Emmy award-winning John Debney together with the UAE’s very own gifted composer Ihab Darwish.”

Her Excellency continued, “The world’s first-ever interfaith symphony is an exemplary case of the power of music to tranced borders and strengthen the bridge of understanding and dialogue among all people. In line with the UAE’s commitment to peaceful co-existence, the extraordinary symphony reflects in four movements the cherished values of all three Abrahamic religions to highlight the solidarity and resilience that unites us in humanity”.

The Abrahamic Symphony was commissioned and produced by Abu Dhabi Festival 2022, held under the theme Crafting the Emirates State of Mind: Creation, Innovation & Joy. The symphony is currently available online on all major streaming platforms and the virtual world premiere concert is set to take place later this year.

‘Abrahamic Symphony’ is now available on every platform.