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Abu Dhabi Festival 2023 Presents Buddha Passion by internationally renowned composer Tan Dun

Under the honorary patronage of His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Founding Honorary Patron the special 20th edition of Abu Dhabi Festival saw the Middle East premiere of Academy and Grammy award-winning composer, Tan Dun’s powerful oratorio Buddha Pasion at Emirates Palace on 18 March, following the Middle East premiere of From West to East: A Classical Odyssey the evening prior.

Presented by the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) and held under the theme “The Will for Evolution”, the headline programme of events will continue to take place until 20 March, featuring the world’s most renowned performers and musicians.

Ahead of the performance, His Excellency Salem Khalid Al Qassimi, Minister of Culture and Youth and Abu Dhabi Festival Founder and Artistic Director, Her Excellency Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo presented on behalf of Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, the Abu Dhabi Festival Award in partnership with Chopard to Tan Dun in recognition of his outstanding lifetime achievements and contributions to music.

Her Excellency Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation, Founder and Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival, said: “We are delighted to present the Middle East Premiere of visionary composer Tan Dun’s Buddha Passion at Emirates Palace as a highlight of the 20th anniversary celebration of Abu Dhabi Festival. In six magnificent acts, the Academy and Grammy-winning composer’s masterful work uses the power of music to explore the universal concepts of forgiveness, sacrifice and enlightenment. His mission to bring East and West together in harmony aligns with the Festival’s own values of peaceful dialogue and cross-cultural understanding and reflects our ongoing efforts to bring rich cultural experiences to the nation’s capital.

“We are pleased to present the Abu Dhabi Festival award to Tan Dun in recognition of his outstanding lifetime achievements, innovative contributions to contemporary music, and tireless dedication to advancing peace and intercultural dialogue through his exceptional work,” Her Excellency added.

Spanning the boundaries of classical music and Eastern and Western traditions, the performance was a 95-minute oratorio illustrating six Buddha parables and stories, with the sixth being the Buddha's ascension into Nirvana. Blending chants, chants, stories and sounds, the breathtaking vocal masterpiece captured the ancient narratives of Buddha's teachings and the timeless, universal concepts of love, forgiveness and sacrifice.

Tan Dun is renowned for his ability to span the boundaries of classical music and Eastern and Western traditions and considered one of the most prominent figures of the "world classical" genre of music. He gained international acclaim in 2001 after winning an Academy Award for his score for the soundtrack to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by Ang Lee.

Abu Dhabi Festival 2023 is held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, Assistant to His Highness the President of the Emirates Red Crescent Authority for Women’s Affairs, and Chairperson of the Higher Committee for Ataya Initiative. The Festival is also supported by its Lead Partner Mubadala.

Abu Dhabi Festival 2023 will present exclusive commissions and productions, along with local, regional, and global premieres, in addition to a series of world-class events that include musical tours, panel discussions, and workshops. Additional information on the Abu Dhabi Festival programme and ticket booking details are available at


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