A fascinating outdoor musical event will be the first of a new global cultural destination. Artist Rui Fu launches his musical composition Nine Songs, honoring the geographic wonders of the region while heralding the next era in the site’s rich history. Harnessing the artist’s fascination and experience with traditional Chinese music and poetry, this site-appropriate performance echoes the musical compositions across the textured surfaces of the surrounding rock formations, while the accompanying visuals further accentuate the magnificence of the landscape through the choreographed play between light and shadows. Held over two nights on November 26 and 27, this striking production will unveil the magic of art in its endless expressions, marking the start of Wadi AlFann’s captivating pre-opening program, which will also include temporary exhibitions, artist residencies artists and public symposia.
This unprecedented theatrical performance presents Wadi AlFann, or the Valley of the Arts, as the new hub of contemporary arts. A masterpiece in itself, the 65-square-acre site sits in the arid desert region of AlUla in northwest Saudi Arabia. A sea of cliffs and canyons cut through the site as magnificent sandstone formations rise from the barren ground to create an otherworldly landscape with dramatic topography. The introduction of the area as the newest location for large-scale, site-specific works of art marks a defining new chapter in a long history of cultural exchange. Permanent works of land art will create a dialogue between art and nature, while the positioning of these visionary new pieces amidst the remnants of ancient desert communities will inspire visitors to understand art as a source of knowledge. and evolution. The first five works, by Manal AlDowayan, Agnes Denes, Michael Heizer, Ahmed Mater and James Turrell, will be completed in 2024, marking the start of an ongoing program of commissions.
Nine Songs is a multi-sensory performance that uses an assortment of instruments to interact with the site’s extraordinary geological structures that rise around a circular stage. An international ensemble of performers will use harp, fiddle, dulcimer, oud, gugin and taiko drums to present a modern take on ancient Chinese poetry. As an artist and composer, Fu draws inspiration from a section of an ancient Chinese anthology called Chu Ci, or the Song of Chu, which uses romantic poetry to send prayers to clouds, mountains and rivers. With the help of co-director Farooq Chaudhry and musical director Jocelyn Pook, Nine Songs sings about the region’s past, present and future to reimagine the dynamic between human creation and the natural world. Costumes, lighting and sets are designed around Fu’s own musical compositions and vocalizations, while the fiery hues and dark shadows cast by the evening sunset will further juxtapose the beauty of the production with the wonders of the natural world.
The premiere of Nine Songs is commissioned by the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) as a tribute to the deep connection between art and nature found in this extraordinary valley, citing the artist’s unique ability to overcome cultural boundaries to through its themes of shared humanity. . Fu looks at the world with the same wonder she believed our ancestors once had, and she creates a musical space through which she can transport memories of the past into visions for the future. She draws her interpretations from the rhythmic and tonal fluctuations characteristic of Chinese ethnic music and works directly with the minority tribes who perpetuate these traditions. Combined with a characteristic non-lexical language that Fu created to cross cultural barriers, Nine Songs embodies the depth and depth of AlUla to open a new chapter in the region’s continued evolution.
For more information on Nine Songs and to book your ticket, visit the Experience AlUla website here.