Abu Dhabi: The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) has announced the return of Barzakh Festival for its seventh edition, with four bands performing over two nights on February 3 and 4 from 7:30pm at The East Plaza.

The annual Barzakh Festival was created by The Arts Center as a meeting place of musical streams that cross diverse cultures. Global-minded musicians reflecting varied influences and identities bring the contemporary and the traditional together. The result is a boundary-pushing lineup filled with musical revelations.

Day one of the festival, on Friday, February 3, will feature Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino (CGS), from Italy, and Lemma, from Algeria. Now led by his award-winning multi-instrumentalist son, Mauro Durante, CGS were established in Puglia in 1975 by the writer Rina Durante, and are the first and most important group to produce popular Salentinian music from southern Italy. CGS have updated their sound to create a fascinating reinterpretation of tradition and modernity that revolves around the famous pizzica tarantata ritual, a popular Italian folk music that marked the ancient healing ritual against the bite of the dangerous tarantula spider. This show is presented with the support of Puglia Sounds.

Hailing from the Saoura region, a valley in southwestern Algeria, Lemma is a powerful all-female band that presents a joyful symphony of music genres from the spiritual to the earthy. They sing texts borrowed from the mystical odes and supplications from the hadra sessions, as well as passages from some well-known malhûn poetry texts. Their percussion draws from hidûss and hadra and is as much in the rhythm as in the darbouka or the bendir drums. Their rhythm is rich and comes in many genres, borrowing the rhythm of arûbi (a free and repetitive rhythm) and haddâwî (the rhythm of the wandering mystics of the Moroccan brotherhood of Sidi Haddi) as well as other rhythms and melodies from across the Maghreb.

The second day, Saturday, February 4, sees the two UAE debuts of Ak Dan Gwang Chil (ADG7), from Korea, and Sahra Halgan, from Somaliland. Making their UAE debut after an acclaimed online concert for The Arts Center in 2020, ADG7 are a multi-award winning Korean music group, featuring powerhouse female folk singers fronting a band of traditional musicians. Their repertoire is drawn from the sacred, shamanic, and secular gut (ritual music) and minyo (folk song) traditions of the Hwanghae-do region, nowadays a western province of North Korea. The show is presented with the support of the Korean Cultural Center.

Sahra Halgan and her band further the eclectic theme, presenting a mix of original compositions and traditional Somali songs through distorted guitars, African percussion, and Halgan’s distinctive warbling vocals. She sings about love, gratitude, and rebuilding her nation, using poetry typical of the Somali language. Each member of the group brings their own distinctive background into the music; Aymeric Krol spent time in Bamako studying Malian percussions and uses his set of hand drums to drive the band; Mael Salètes’ distorted guitars and hypnotic riffs give a solid rock backbone; and keyboardist Graham Mushnik injects Golden Era psychedelia into the group’s sound.

Commenting on the lineup, The Arts Center Executive Artistic Director Bill Bragin said: “Barzakh Festival is one of the highlights of our annual music programming, and a personal favorite of mine as it represents the internationalism and cross-cultural conversations at The Arts Center’s core. The artists in this year’s edition are charismatic performers, with powerful female perspectives, whose music transcends boundaries. They have developed unique approaches to honoring their deep cultural traditions, putting them in cosmopolitan dialog with contemporary times to cut across heritage, generation, and style.

“In keeping with our theme for this season, ‘Stories’, each artist carries and extends the legacies of their cultural traditions. By juxtaposing artists across styles and backgrounds, we create new stories for the UAE.”

This year there is an exciting new addition to the festival; both evenings will feature a nightsouk and a buzzing food truck station along with various fun family activities for all guests to enjoy. More than forty retail vendors will be offering locally made artisan products, including handmade soaps, candles, local artwork, jewelry, home décor, pottery and many more. The food truck station features cuisines from around the world, Arabic, Asian and Mexican street food, along with a stylish Japanese coffee station and a good old-fashioned ice cream van. Access to the nightsouk is free and open to the public.


For more information please visit: http://www.nyuad-artscenter.org. The Arts Center at NYUAD is an internationally renowned performing arts center that presents distinguished professional artists from around the world alongside student, faculty, and community productions.

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About The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi

Presenting music, theater, dance, film and interdisciplinary performances that defy definition, The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi is a performing arts center that presents distinguished professional artists from around the world alongside student, faculty, and community productions. The Arts Center draws on the resources of NYUAD to create a dynamic space for research, investigation, and the active pursuit of knowledge and wisdom for audiences as well as visiting artists.

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and science campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective liberal arts, engineering and science curriculum with a world center for advanced research and scholarship enabling its students to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from more than 115 nations and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.