- Hungarian songstress and violinist the star of the penultimate night of Sharjah World Music Festival 2018
The rhythmic strains of jazz combined with uplifting folk and classical music set an electric atmosphere at The Flag Island Amphitheatre in Sharjah on Thursday night, as Katica Illényi performed at the penultimate concert of this year’s Sharjah World Music Festival (SWMF). The Hungarian songstress and violinist was the key attraction in the ‘Classic and Jazzy Night,’ the sixth evening of the seven-day event that has brought the very best Arabic and western music to the denizens of the UAE.
“This is my first time in Sharjah and the UAE and I love everything I’ve seen in your fantastic country,” said Illényi as she took to the stage. “Unfortunately, I don’t speak Arabic and I don’t think any of you speak Hungarian. But that’s okay because we have the wonderful language of music to communicate with,” she added, to enthusiastic applause.
Illényi enthralled the audience at Sharjah’s iconic national monument with her vocal and violin renditions, as well as with a couple of pieces performed on a theremin – an electronic hands-free instrument that produces eerie and ethereal tones. Throughout the evening, the talented musician’s repertoire perfectly blended traditional classic sounds with more up-beat tempos, her set sublimely revealing the cohesion of different genres of music and their ability to build bridges between cultures. Accompanying her act was the 14-piece SWMF orchestra, which was led with aplomb by conductor Mohammed Othman Siddiq.
Heralding from a classical music family, Illényi began learning the violin with her father, Ferenc Illényi, who played in the Hungarian State Opera orchestra. After obtaining her master’s degree in violin in 1991 at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in the Hungarian capital Budapest, she went on to attend phonation classes, which honed her voice as her second instrument. When lessons in ballet, jazz dance and tap dancing were added to her vocal and string instrument talents, the result was the forging of an all-round virtuoso performer.
Commencing her solo career in 2002, Illényi now gives concerts across the world, with her musical abilities seeing her invited to perform in television shows in her native country. Over the years she has won acclaim for her positive personality, professional abilities and commitment to her craft, which has garnered a number of gold and platinum records. Her reputation has allowed her to spread Hungarian composers’ music, as well as classical music and jazz music across social layers, in the process lifting the profile of Hungarian music internationally.
SWMF 2018 took place at four main venues in Sharjah; Al Majaz Amphitheatre, The Flag Island Amphitheatre, Al Qasba and Al Majaz Waterfront. This year’s festival was presented by Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) in a strategic partnership with Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority and Al Majaz Amphitheatre. Organised by Furat Qaddouri Music Centre, the fifth edition of the festival brought together a select group of the best singers, musicians and bands from all corners of the globe.
Over the seven days of SWMF 2018, festival-goers have been able to enjoy an impressive array of concerts by an eclectic group of musicians, bands and singers from 11 Arab and other countries, including Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Kuwait, Spain, Argentina, Ukraine and Hungary. The artists were selected for their ability to speak the universal language of music to all cultures, in the process breaking down linguistic barriers and geographical boundaries as they entertain their audiences.
By organising this first of its kind festival, Furat Qaddouri Music Centre seeks to boost the cultural and art presence of Sharjah and the UAE on the global arena, introduce the world’s various musical cultures to the UAE community and add a new gem to the emirate’s rich portfolio of tourist, art and culture attractions. Concert tickets for SWMF 2018 are available online at: www.ticketmaster.ae and can also be purchased at customer service counters at Al Qasba Theatre, The Flag Island Amphitheatre, Al Majaz Amphitheatre and Al Majaz Waterfront.