Jordi Savall To Recreate Music From Ibn Battuta’S 14th Century Journey Through India And China For Abu Dhabi Classics Concerts

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Award-winning Catalan composer Jordi Savall is returning to Abu Dhabi this month for two highly anticipated concerts as part of the Abu Dhabi Classics concert season.

The Grammy winner, who performed a world premiere of ‘Ibn Battuta: Voyager of Islam’ in 2014 in Abu Dhabi and returned due to its success in 2015 to continue the famed explorer’s story, is set to bring back his Hespèrion XXI ensemble of Arabic and Western musicians for the concerts at Emirates Palace and Bin Hamooda Fort in Al Ain.

Leading Emirati musician Saeed Al Salem, who specialises in playing the Oud, will also be featuring in both concerts, which are brand new adaptions of Ibn Battuta’s epic journeys. Many musicians from the ensemble are also new to the productions, representing countries through which the great explorer travelled.

For the new concerts, titled ‘Ibn Battuta: The voyager of Islam II, Travels through India and China’, Savall will replicate the music Ibn Battuta would have heard as he travelled during the 14th Century on his epic journey from India to China.

Sara Al Shakar, TCA Abu Dhabi, said: “We are enormously pleased to bring Jordi Savall back to Abu Dhabi for the third Classics season in a row. Like no other artist, Jordi Savall embodies the faculty to find in music the roots of a common humanity reaching beyond cultural differences. His Ibn Battuta Project, of which he will be presenting the second part for the first time in Abu Dhabi, represents not only a unique voyage in time and space, but also delivers a true message of tolerance.

“By rediscovering the music of past times, he also rediscovers the incredibly rich dialogue that already linked the cultures of the Eastern and the Western world more than 600 years ago.”
For more than fifty years, Savall, one of the most versatile musical personalities of his generation, has rescued musical gems from obscurity. A tireless researcher into early music, he interprets and performs the repertoire both as a viola player and a conductor.

His activities as a concert performer, teacher, researcher and creator of new musical and cultural projects have made him a leading figure in the reappraisal of historical music. Savall has recorded and released more than 230 discs covering the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and Classical music repertories, with a special focus on Hispanic and Mediterranean musical heritage, receiving many awards and distinctions such as the Midem Classical Award, the International Classical Music Award and the Grammy Award.

Savall said: “It is with great pleasure that we return to Abu Dhabi, in order to present the second part of our musical evocation of this fabulous trip, realised by Ibn Battuta, one of the greatest travellers and chroniclers of all times. The first part of our musical evocation was brought to life here, three years ago.

“I love this city which is considered the cultural capital of the Middle East, remarkable for its architecture and its proximity to the large stretches of dunes of the desert, where treasures of art and history are hidden. I come once more, along with my fellow-musicians from all corners of the world such as India, China, Afghanistan, Armenia, Bulgaria, Greece, Spain, France, Turkey, Mali, and Madagascar to meet music-loving and welcoming audience which is curious to find out about the intercultural dialogue that we suggest.”

The concerts, presented by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), are part of the Abu Dhabi Classics season, and form part of the emirate’s year-long Music Programme which also includes the Bait Al Oud concert series, Emirati Music Series and Umsiyat held under the patronage of HH Sheikh

TCA Abu Dhabi, through Abu Dhabi Classics, focuses on bringing to the emirate some of the leading contemporary artists in the field of Arabic and Western classical music. This year’s theme is ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ with a rich and diverse programme of concerts deeply rooted in the imaginary of the Middle East.

Abu Abd Ibn Battuta was an explorer, voyager and writer and one of the most important Muslim travellers of the Middle Ages who journeyed 120,000km in 29 years throughout the Middle East, the Mahgreb, Africa, Europe and the Far East. His travels were recorded in his voyage report ‘Rihla’ which is the contextual base for Savall’s work.

After taking the public on a musical journey from North Africa and Egypt to Arabia, passing through Yemen and Sudan and sailing the Arabian Gulf, Savall will now follow the voyages of Ibn Battuta to the Far East, starting in Afghanistan and discovering India, Indonesia and China.

As one of the principal architects of the current revaluation of historical music, Savall, who plays viol and rebab, will guide us on a journey through time and space, performing the music Ibn Battuta heard during his visits to royal courts, palaces, public places or small villages. A long forgotten world and its enchanting atmosphere will come back to life through the magic of music which will be complemented by readings from Ibn Battuta’s travel journal, allowing music and words to mix and recreate his incredible adventure.

The first concert is being held at Emirates Palace on January 13 while the second concert takes place on January 15.