Every year on the 17th of October, the Sultanate celebrates Omani Women’s Day. And every year, the Royal Opera House Muscat proudly joins in the celebrations with a festive evening dedicated to honouring the achievements of Omani women through artistic expression in the performing arts. This important annual tribute recognizes the invaluable contribution of Omani women in community development and nation-building, and in particular women’s significant role in preserving Oman’s rich cultural heritage in folklore, music, song, and dance, as well as their vital participation in contemporary music.
It has become a much-loved tradition to herald the opening of the evening in ROHM’s great Concert Hall with the commanding sound of drums and bagpipes as women from one of the Royal Bands of Oman march down the aisles and on stage. Hearts stir and swell with patriotism and pride. And so the show begins dramatically and with a great deal of excitement.
Intercultural diversity is an important element in ROHM’s Women’s Day celebrations and signals the global perspective of the nation; and accordingly, the 2016-17 program features talent from two important countries in our region - Iran and Palestine. The Iranian Music Ensemble will play characteristic pieces from their repertoire, while Palestinian folkloric performances will complement a special guest appearance by the dazzling Palestinian star, Mohammed Assaf who won the 2013 Arab Idol contest.
The central highlight of the evening will be a wonderful concert by the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra’s Ladies Chamber Ensemble. ROSO’s Ladies Chamber Ensemble brings the beautiful sound of the strings in Oman’s renowned Royal Symphony Orchestra into brilliant focus. Since its inception in 1987, the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra (ROSO) has included women in all sections of the Orchestra. Formed in recent years as an offshoot of ROSO, the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra Ladies Chamber Ensemble is a shining example of the artistic independence and high level of achievement of Omani women in the arts. With violins, violas, cellos, double bass and harp, the Ensemble is known for exceptionally beautiful music.
The involvement of Omani women in music is not new. For countless centuries, Omani women have been an integral part of the traditional music of Oman with roles in many song and dance genres, which are typically accompanied by rhythms of the ahmani and kasir drums. In fact, some traditional Omani music genres were created specifically for women singers and dancers. Tabl Al Nisa or Women’s Drum Dance, practiced in the southern governorate of Dhofar is primarily a women’s genre, although occasionally men are invited to participate. The traditional music of Oman continues to be performed in cultural celebrations throughout the country and is frequently a feature of ROHM’s Omani Women’s Day celebrations.