Emirates news agency – Abu Dhabi music group, 44, cherishes cultural heritage of UAE’s early years


By Binsal Abdulkader

ABU DHABI, July 10, 2021 (WAM) – As the UAE celebrates its 50th anniversary, a 44-year-old amateur music group in Abu Dhabi cherishes the legacy of a cultural environment conducive to creative activities, which emerged during the first years after the formation of the country.

“The fact that a group like this has been around for so many years is a testament to the fact that this country and its leaders have made the UAE an open and welcoming place for everyone. The passion and love of doing music together is what keeps the band together and has made it successful over the years, since 1977, “Caroline Kelly, current president and musical director of the Abu Dhabi Choral Group (ADCG), told the agency. Emirates Press (WAM).

Represent the diversity of the city

The ADCG has encouraged music-loving Emiratis and residents of all nationalities in Abu Dhabi to unleash their musical talents, and even introduce the world of music to the youngest.

Although initially established by American and British expats in the capital, the community music group now represents the diversity of the city, adds Kelly, who is originally from the United Kingdom.

“Our members come from all over the world. Anyone from any country is welcome to join our group. We have members from Canada, USA, UK, various European countries, Africa from the South, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries, ”says Kelly, who joined ADCG with her husband when they arrived in Abu Dhabi six years ago.

Platform for Global Friendship

Even when the members leave Abu Dhabi, the friendship forged in the group still remains, she adds.

“When they returned to their home country or with their work in a new country, for me and other members, these friendships open up a whole range of vacation destinations that you may have visited. visiting friends in Australia, Canada, Ireland and the US I now have friends in Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Malaysia and literally across the world It’s amazing.

Evolution of music since the 1970s

Like the diversity of the membership, the music has also evolved over the years. “It has certainly evolved from its inception in 1977, when there were mostly more classic Christmas concerts and concerts. Then they kind of did more classical operas.”

“But more recently we’ve kind of made a more modern musical theater, putting on the most modern shows that people have heard of. Everyone here wants to participate in live theater. That’s it. [evolution] which drives the group forward, ”explains Kelly, who is also director of performing arts at Raha International School in Abu Dhabi.

Oldest member

Most of the group’s founders have already left the UAE and another could not be reached for comment. Currently the oldest member is Cat Downing, a South African healthcare professional.

“When I arrived in Abu Dhabi 13 years ago and attended an ADCG rehearsal on my second night in the city with my new roommate, I had no idea what this adventure would do. me the oldest member of the choir! ” she says.

With a background in nursing and the rhythm of South Africa running through her veins, Downing has been an avid singer since the age of five, when she performed weekly with her father’s church choir. Although she played guitar and worked more behind the scenes during her childhood and teenage years for school productions, ADSG encouraged her to take on more proactive roles.

She also served mainly on the Board of Directors, in various capacities, notably as secretary, site coordinator and treasurer.

Presentation of freshers to the world of music

Unlike Kelly and Downing who already had a musical background, for many freshers, ADCG opened the doors to the world of music.

“Some of our members are like me, professionally trained musicians, but others are people who just love to sing. There is no hard and fast rule. You have to be amazing to be a member, you just have to want to be. There. And we “I have a lot of members who are not musicians and who have no musical training, they just like it. And that’s what it’s all about, ”says Kelly.

With active members currently averaging 50 artists per season, the group currently presents two major performances each year: in the spring a traditional Broadway musical and in the fall a concert-style musical revue. The group used to perform Monday night rehearsals on the New York University campus in Abu Dhabi.

Support Abu Dhabi’s project to become a cultural hub

However, since the start of the current global pandemic, rehearsals and programs have gone online.

“We look forward to reuniting with all of our friends and hosting rehearsals and in-person events,” Kelly said.

When ADCG switched to virtual performance, Downing found a new opportunity. She took it upon herself to learn video editing and put on virtual concerts.

“I can’t wait to get back to the live shows, but I am thankful that the pandemic has led me to acquire an additional skill! ” She says.

The group is currently rehearsing for the next virtual concert, titled “Scene it! Sing it!”

As Abu Dhabi’s plan to become a major center of cultural excellence over the next decade is fully in effect, the group wishes to play a role in making this plan a reality by raising awareness and appreciation of musical performance.

“It would be a pleasure to be part of this kind of great cultural project of the emirate”, continues Kelly.

WAM / Ibrahim Shukralla

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