Special event

Festival Finale: Tomorrow

Event No. 122, Sun 09 February, 19:00 - 21:00,
Al Baraha 3, InterContinental, Dubai Festival City

Language: Arabic, English

Authors: Cecilia McDowall, Chris Read, Harry Baker, Kevin Crossley-Holland, Markus Zusak, Nujeen Mustafa, Onjali Q. Raúf, Ziauddin Yousafzai, Bettany Hughes, Hazzaa AlMansoori, Farah Chamma, Toorpekai Yousafzai

AED99.00 All prices are inclusive of VAT

Friend Price: AED89.10

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Join the Festival for our charity finale event – an extravaganza of music, poetry and readings in support of Dubai Cares’ programmes for refugee children across the region.

Authors including Onjali Q. Raúf, Hazzaa AlMansoori and Markus Zusak share their inspiring thoughts on what Tomorrow means to them; Farah Chamma will perform a poem about freedom of movement, travel and the pains of owning a passport; Ziauddin and Toor Pekai Yousafzai will read two poems in Pashto and English on girls’ emancipation and women’s empowerment; Harry Baker and Chris Read perform their unique comedy-rap-jazz, and Nujeen Mustafa, Kevin Crossley-Holland and Cecilia McDowall will speak to Bettany Hughes about Everyday Wonders: The Girl from Aleppo before a multinational choir performs this moving piece based on Nujeen’s extraordinary journey.

Take a journey to a better Tomorrow through home, hope and harmony while raising funds for those most in need.

All proceeds will go to Dubai Cares and tickets are priced from AED 99 to AED 799. If you are able to donate more, please select a higher ticket price to enable us to support more refugee children.

Click here to buy tickets for AED 149
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Click here to buy tickets for AED 799

Please note that seating is not allocated for the event.

Everyday Wonders: The Girl from Aleppo

Music: Cecilia McDowall  |  Libretto: Kevin Crossley-Holland

Wherever one looks, innocent children are caught up in conflict. During these last years alone, thousands and thousands of refugee children have trekked from Syria to Turkey and on into Europe in search of asylum.

One of these children was Nujeen Mustafa, a remarkable Kurdish teenager with cerebral palsy.  She was pushed in her wheelchair by her elder sister, Nasrine, from Aleppo to Germany.  Unsurprisingly, her journey has been the subject of much publicity and followed by journalists Christina Lamb (co-author of I am Malala) and Fergal Keane. Throughout many months Nujeen remained stunningly brave, blithe and articulate, never missing an opportunity to speak the language she had learned in a fourth-floor flat in Aleppo by watching American quiz shows, soaps and cookery programmes.

In this five-movement cantata Nujeen’s dramatic story – recounted in her biography The Girl from Aleppo (co-authored by Christina Lamb) – is retold by Kevin Crossley-Holland. Her experience unfolds in the musical narrative; chorales, haunting vocal solos, intense solo violin playing, restless choruses, body percussion, all driving a course from country to country to arrive, thankfully, in Germany. It is a journey of hope and extraordinary fortitude against all the odds.

Commissioned by The National Children’s Choir of Great Britain on its 20th Anniversary and first performed by the Choirs in Birmingham Town Hall on 10 August 2018, Harriet Mackenzie, violin, Claire Dunham, piano, conducted by Dan Ludford-Thomas.

© Cecilia McDowall and Kevin Crossley-Holland

Cecilia McDowall

Working in collaboration with the author Kevin Crossley-Holland on the subject of ‘children in conflict’ has touched something close to my heart.  Through the story of one exceptional, wheelchair-bound, young Kurdish refugee from Aleppo, Nujeen Mustafa, I feel I can understand so much more of the terror, the distress and helplessness experienced by those driven from their homes by the horror of war. As composer I felt it important for the music not to obscure the text in any way, but to allow the words to tell the story, from despair, through hope and ultimately (and surprisingly) joy. The solo violin spins a narrative through the cantata evoking, at times, a quasi-Middle Eastern sound world. The prevailing mood of Nujeen’s story is embodied by the final line of a chorale that bookends the cantata: ‘singing the song of life itself.’

Kevin Crossley-Holland

It’s one thing to hear about the plight of the homeless but quite another to meet and talk to refugees.  From the moment I met Nujeen at this Festival three years ago, and then stayed up all night reading Christina Lamb’s compelling account of Nujeen’s journey from Syria to Germany with her remarkable sister Nasrine, I knew I wanted to work it into a choral text. Nujeen is so spirited, so matter of fact, so brave, and while her astonishing and painful story is utterly personal, it also embodies the experience she has shared with so many hundreds of thousands of women, men and children in so many countries, ‘singing sorrow but singing tomorrow’.

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