East meets West: Classical Saudi concert kicks off BMG Economic Forum 2022
Monday, 25 July 2022

A wonderful evening of classical music at London’s iconic St. John’s Smith Square brought together sounds and melodies of Saudi Arabia from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on Monday.

The event marked the opening of the annual economic forum presented by BMG Foundation.

The event was part of a series of classical concerts to “inspire a wordless dialogue between East and West and to spawn a greater understanding of culture and tolerance between East and West.”

The music, based on a series of traditional melodies from the Kingdom, was arranged to be performed by a Western classical orchestra.

“It is very special to us what we have prepared. We did the composition of these pieces two year ago, but because of covid and travel restrictions we could only broadcast it virtually,” said the Chairman of BMG Foundation Basil Al-Ghalayini.

“It is a beautiful evening, a very glamorous event with lots of interesting people,” Marie Claire, the event’s MC, told Arab News. “The music is amazing, we have amazing artists on stage (coming) from the US, Saudi Arabia and London, and everyone is enjoying it.”

A rich program was conducted by the emerging young American musician, and chief conductor of the Nova Orchester Wien (NOW!), William Garfield Walker.

Among the pieces, created by Diego Collatti and performed during the event, was “Anthem of Nations,” commissioned in 2020 during the Kingdom’s chairmanship of the G20 and “written as a metaphor for strength in union as well a tribute to member countries.”

Al-Ghalayini added: “For me was such a joy to see it in person. We have decided to copyright the piece and we will have it (performed) every year.”

BMG Foundation was set up in 1997 with the intent to “nurture common values that build bridges between East and West” through “annual events (that) aim to develop our youth’s engagement in sports and their appreciation of classical music and the arts.”

Al-Ghalayini continued: “The idea is to introduce (these kinds) of classical music pieces to our young generation. We work together with the Saudi Embassy and (it) was great to see so many students attending the event tonight.

“Music is the language of peace, (the) language of civilization.”

The evening continued with Johan Sebastian Bach’s “Piano Concerto in F Minor BWV 1056” performed by Syrian-British pianist Riyad Nicolas, and “Hymn,” by American composer Charles Ives, a piece known as one of the great masterpieces of string orchestral literature.

The concert ended with Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade for String,” conducted by Walker.

“It was really special experience. It was exciting because it was something that wasn’t the same thing over and over again,” Walker said.

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