Inaugurated in 2012 and presented with Chopard, the Abu Dhabi Festival Award is given annually to individuals for outstanding lifetime contributions to arts and culture. The Abu Dhabi Festival Award has become the benchmark of cultural excellence.
Norma Lerner, Honorary Chairman of the Cleveland Orchestra Board of Trustees and Chairman of The Lerner Foundation
Christo Javacheff, the land artist who has authored many iconic environmental artworks
Yehia Al Fakharani, one of the most sought after theatrical producers and actors in the Arab World
Paloma O’Shea, Founder and Current Principal of the Reina Sofía College of Music
Inaugurated in 2012 and presented in association with Chopard, the Abu Dhabi Festival Award is annually bestowed upon individuals for outstanding lifetime contributions to arts and culture. The Abu Dhabi Festival Award has become the benchmark of cultural excellence.
The first award commemorated the career of the eminent Lebanese conductor and composer, Dr Walid Gholmieh (1938–2011), and was received on his behalf by HE Fouad Siniora, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Lebanon and Dr Gholmieh’s widow, Elham. In 2013, Plácido Domingo was honoured for his contributions to opera, his support of young practitioners and his tireless commitment to nurturing new audiences. To mark the 11th Festival in 2014, an unprecedented three awards were bestowed upon three outstanding individuals who have dedicated their lives to inspiring and engaging youth in music: José Antonio Abreu, Gustavo Dudamel and Quincy Jones.
In 2015, awards were given to two of the world’s leading conductors – Iván Fischer and Riccardo Muti. Both continue to push the boundaries of their practice while engaging the young in upholding the rich legacy of classical music. In a similar vein, a posthumous award was received by Bernard de Launoit, President of the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Belgium, on behalf of his father, Comte Jean-Pierre de Launoit (1935–2014).
Awards in 2016 were given to dancer and conservationist, Sylvie Guillem, the Oscar-winning composer Gabriel Yared, and renowned author, Amin Maalouf. For 2017, the awards recognised the contributions of prolific musical pioneer, Mohamad Abdo, nine-time Grammy award-winner and educator Wynton Marsalis, the immense contributions to cross-cultural dialogue made by UN Messenger of Peace Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble, and Dr. Ghassan Salamé, writer and diplomat.
In 2018, awards were presented to the Polish composer and conductor, Krzysztof Penderecki; to the iconic composer Philip Glass; to Sir Antonio Pappano for his contribution to music and to the late Abdulhussain Abdulreda in recognition of his artistic achievements and the impact he made on theatre and television in the Gulf.
Last year, four awards were once again presented. American Mezzo-Soprano and Grammy Award-winner, Joyce DiDonato, for her services to opera and lifelong pursuit of peace; Aurélie Dupont, Director of Dance at Paris National Opera, in recognition of her tireless work in ballet; Berlin’s Barenboim-Said Akademie for its profound contribution to music and education, as well as its tireless quest for peace, and the late Ousha bint Khalifa Al Suwaidi in honour of this great poet’s literary wisdom and poetic creativity that enriched the Emirati literature landscape.