Global stars to glitter at ROHM this season


World-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma returns to the ROHM stage, where he performed to a full house in 2011, this time with the Silk Road Ensemble on Thursday. Photo provided

Muscat: As the Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM) season picks up again after its winter break, a plethora of stars is all set to entertain the audience over the next few weeks. With big names like Yo-Yo Ma, Sherine and Maxim Vengerov, it's the "who's who" of the music world, said ROHM's General Director, Christina Scheppelmann, in an interview with the Times of Oman.

Speaking about the programming from mid-January to mid-February, which also includes the Vienna State Ballet, Gustavo Dudamel, and Maurizio Pollini, she said that while people may not be familiar with all the artists, they should be made aware of just how important they are globally.

"The whole line up over the next three weeks is quite fabulous. Most festivals would envy that kind of line up. I think it's worth pointing out that we're getting a really special star festival here," Scheppelmann said.

The Vienna State Ballet came to Muscat for a three-night run on January 18, 19, and 20, charming the audiences with its elegance and grace. The ballet company is under the same umbrella as the Vienne State Opera, which was here earlier in the season with The Marriage of Figaro.

"It's one of the great European ballet companies, and to have the institution itself twice in one season is truly unique," she added.

World-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma will return to the ROHM stage, where he performed to a sold out theatre in 2011, this time with the Silk Road Ensemble. Their January 23 concert blends different styles of music, drawing inspiration from the countries along the historical Silk Road. The Silk Road Ensemble reflects the universality of music and the way it can create dialogues among diverse people, she explained.

"They represent what the ROHM does. It's all about the cross-cultural connections, which is what music should do," said Scheppelmann.

A Venezuelan cultural treasure Gustavo Dudamel will be here on January 24 with the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela. Dudamel isn't just a wonderful conductor, but he's a huge proponent of using music to improve children's lives, especially those from low-income neighbourhoods. 

The orchestra itself features musicians who were trained in a programme called El Sistema, which provided music education to poor children in Venezuela.

"He's a great star of the conducting business and of the music business. The Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra is a very special social project, which has risen to high levels," she said.

In addition to the main concert, Dudamel and the orchestra will also be giving an hour-long family concert on January 25 so that the children in Oman and their parents can benefit from his experience and learn more about music, Scheppelmann noted. 

Egyptian songstress Sherine's January 28 concert is already sold out, but those who are lucky enough to have tickets will be charmed by her mezzo voice. While she is best known for her Arabic pop hits, she also sings some more traditional Egyptian tarab music, which is what she will focus on at the ROHM.

"She's a wonderful musician with a beautiful voice," Scheppelmann added. 

On February 5 and 6 Italian conductor Gianluigi Gelmetti, who replaced Claudio Abbado who regretfully had to cancel due to poor health, will conduct the Orchestra Mozart, joined by Italian pianist Maurizio Pollini. The musicians in the orchestra are hand-picked from among the greatest European orchestras, making it an incredible institution. 

"Maurizio Pollini is a legend and I'm excited to hear him live, because I never have," she revealed. The multitalented violinist and conductor from Russia, Maxim Vengerov, will both conduct and play with Polish Chamber Orchestra on February 9. "He made a phenomenal career as a violinist and then started conducting. Being the great musician that he is, he's also very successful as a conductor," she said.

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