The Aga Khan Awards Ceremony kicked off on Saturday evening, under the auspices of HH Sayyid Kamil bin Fahd al Said, in the presence of high level attendees and local and international media.
The ceremony, which was held at the House of Musical Arts, the Royal Opera House, Muscat, was accompanied by the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra and the Music of the Aga Khan, in the presence of elite Omani architects and musicians, as well as approximately 250 international guests from around the world, members of the Awards Steering Committee, jury, finalists and winners of the Architecture and Music Awards.
The patron of the event honoured the winners of the 'Walk of Creativity' award within the Aga Khan Music Awards, namely Zakir Hussain, winner of the 'Lifetime Achievement Award', and Omani music researcher Muslim bin Ahmed al Kathiri, who won a 'special award' for his contribution to safeguarding Omani musical heritage.
The 3-day programme included, on its first day, live performances of various pieces of music by Aga Khan Orchestra.
Speaking on the occasion, Jamal al Moosawi, Director General of the National Museum, said that the Sultanate of Oman makes appreciable efforts to make culture a common denominator among peoples, by making known to the world its richness of culture and knowledge through the cultural activities it undertakes or participates in and those held in cooperation with civil society institutions of various cultural and social backgrounds.
“The Sultanate of Oman’s hosting of the second edition of the Aga Khan Music Awards comes within the framework of building bridges of communication and links between various peoples of the world and enhancing joint cooperation by activating channels of cultural communication at all official and societal levels.
"After saying this, the musical heritage of the Sultanate of Oman goes back to the prehistoric period through the oldest musical instrument discovered at the archaeological site of Ras al Hadd, which can be seen in the National Museum in the Hall of Intangible Heritage. This hall indicates the importance that Oman attaches to musical experience.” he added .
Al Moosawi mentioned that the modern Renaissance of Oman began in 1970, referring to late Sultan Qaboos's contributions to the development of music. He said “the Omani government took care of the institutions concerned with music, from the very beginning, crowned eventually by the establishment of the Royal Opera House Muscat in 2011”.
He also said that “the First Royal Ensemble for Folk Arts and Music was established in 1976. The establishment of the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra in 1985 under the direct supervision of late Sultan Qaboos, and not to forget the Oman Centre for Traditional Music besides the Omani Oud Hobbyists Association”.
The DG of the National Museum said that “Music has a universal language spoken by all people and understood by everyone without any trouble or hardship. It unites peoples and blends with it the foundations of civilised dialogue, through which we seek to highlight the role of the Sultanate of Oman, its Omani vocabulary, and its diversity and rich cultural and knowledge patterns”.
On the occasion, Luis Monreal, GM of Agha Khan for Trust for Culture, said : “Oman has a very rich archaeological heritage that is deep-rooted in history. This is shown through the government’s efforts to preserve this legacy and to make it available and accessible for both citizens and visitors. For example, the National Museum reflects the identity of the country and it shows its history over time”.
Talking about the trust he is presiding, Monreal said: “The trust is the cultural agency and is a part of the Agha Khan Development Network, which is the largest development entity privately-owned in the world. It represents the work of 90,000 people in many countries. We believe that the culture is a fundamental pillar not only to people who need it to understand their origin, but because it is an asset for development”.
“Agha Khan institutions work not only to restore ancient buildings but they adopt different activities like conservation, preservation and restoration in historic cities and bring micro-finance programmes, health, and education”.
The Sultanate of Oman’s hosting of the Music Awards Ceremony (after the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, which hosted the event in March of 2019) confirms the importance of the Sultanate of Oman as an important destination on the map of global culture, literature and art. This hosting also reflects the cultural movement in the Sultanate of Oman in line with global transformations according to its economic, social, political and cultural fabric, in line with the objectives of national, regional and international strategies, which are hoped to contribute to achieving the bases of the cultural strategy based on creativity, cultural development, cultural creative industries, culture and society, cultural identity, cultural development, cultural communication, and cultural regulations and legislation.