A journey set in melodies

Renowned viol musician plays to the tune of legendary traveller Ibn Battuta


Conductor. Composer. Arranger. Grammy winner. Jordi Savall is an artistic force to be reckoned with.

The Spanish musician returns to the capital for the continuation of his Ibn Battuta: The Voyager of Islam series. The Abu Dhabi Classics concert centres on the journeys of legendary traveller Ibn Battuta. We spoke with Savall about the concept and its appeal beyond the desert.

How did the idea of Ibn Battuta as a subject for a musical performance come about?

I discovered Ibn Battuta in 2005 because one of the collaborators in my foundation is Arabic. She mentioned his travels and extraordinary story. That’s when the idea
to spread his story through music began.

As an artist, what is it about Ibn Battuta that fascinates you the most?

He is a great storyteller – he vividly described every place he went to and captured the beauty of life and society. His accounts are a great testimony of the life and times of the past.

How long does it take to put together a project like this?

The process is continuous and encompasses selecting the musicians and pieces of songs that will go into each part – it’s similar to creating a modern opera. This is a series and we’re doing various chapters based on his travels. The next chapter will be in 2017 and covers Ibn Battuta’s travels to Afghanistan, the north of China and India.

You’re telling a story but presenting it through music. How do you achieve that?

Music is very much the same as storytelling. When you sing or listen to a song, the music takes you to a place by stirring your imagination and emotion.

Ibn Battuta has interest locally but you’re taking this performance to other parts of the globe including Paris. Will people outside the UAE appreciate his story in the same way?

Yes! People are naturally fascinated with traveling and we all love music to some degree. It helps that we have an interesting mix of musicians from Spain, Italy, Greece, Syria, Morocco and Madagascar – that’s a beautiful synergy of art and intercultural dialogue. Humans have a lot in common to bind us together. We don’t need to renounce our beliefs and culture. Instead of saying ‘my culture is better’ why not share it so we can all live in harmony?

Jordi Savall performs as part of Abu Dhabi Classics on 22nd November (Abu Dhabi Theatre), 23rd (Mushrif Central Park), 24th (Qasr Al Sarab) and 25th (Bin Hamoodah Fort, Al Ain). Contact: 800 86823, ticketmaster.ae, abudhabiclassics.ae

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