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.
In celebration of his prolific career as a composer and conductor, recognizing the cultural significance of his works for which he has won international awards, including five GRAMMYs
For his iconic contributions to 20th and 21st century music, recognizing his integral in redefining the parameters and reception of contemporary classical music.
For his services to music including as Music Director of the Royal Opera House, London and Principal Conductor of Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.
The first award commemorated the career of the eminent Lebanese conductor and composer, Dr Walid Gholmieh (1938–2011), and was received by H.E. Fouad Siniora, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Lebanon and Dr Gholmieh’s widow, Elham.
In 2013, Plácido Domingo was honoured for his contribution to opera, his support of young practitioners and his tireless commitment to nurturing new audiences.
To mark the 11th edition of the Abu Dhabi 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, to mark the Abu Dhabi Festival’s 12th edition, 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 College in Belgium, on behalf of his father, Comte Jean-Pierre de Launoit (1935–2014).
In 2016, awards were given to dancer and conservationist Sylvie Guillem, the Oscar-winning composer Gabriel Yared and renowned author Amin Maalouf.