Global Music Concert in Dubai

The house lights came up after a stunning first half of “United Harmonies,” the latest, and 14th, edition of The Dwight Schools annual Global Concert. Nizar Pabani sat in the Dwight Dubai auditorium with a broad smile on his face.

When asked how he felt, Nizar quickly replied, “More than anything else, proud!” His daughter, Iman Pabani ’26, had just performed along with the rest of the Dwight London contingent, singing a solo during their rendition “Isn’t She Lovely?” Judging by the look on Nizar’s face, the answer to Stevie Wonder’s musical question was a resounding “YES!”

After a pause, he continued, “What an amazing experience for these children, to come together from around the world. That’s what Dwight School does.”

It was a beautiful moment, just one of countless such moments experienced by the audience of 400 who came together to witness the culmination of our community’s hard work.

Earlier in the week, Iman was asked how she felt about being a part of the Global Concert, and she gave an answer that echoed her father’s sentiment: “It’s amazing to play with students from different Dwight campuses. It’s one of the benefits of going to an international school—we all come together as part of music, and music is an international language, so it’s lovely to see different people’s talents.”

And come together they did — from campuses in New York, London, Seoul, Shanghai, and Global Online — with the audience captivated by a breathtaking array of solo performances, traditional Chinese pieces, harmonious ensembles, and world-renowned hits. Students masterfully performed everything from their renditions of classical compositions to contemporary pieces, all showcasing the breadth and depth of musical proficiency among Dwight students.

The evening ended with every student coming together on stage to perform the global debut of “All the World Will Stand,” written by South African film composer, arranger, orchestrator and musical director Richard Campbell. The original piece was specially commissioned by Dwight Schools for “United Harmonies,” capping off an unforgettable, talent-filled evening, consolidating the students’ collaborative efforts throughout the week, and truly bonding these children from around the world.

Habibi, Come to Dubai!
This year, we were honored to host our Global Music Concert for the first time in the vibrant city of Dubai, a symbol of innovation and progress. Choosing Dubai as the venue for this year's concert fully embraced the theme of “United Harmonies,” as Dubai is a true melting pot of cultures that mirrors the diversity of Dwight’s global community, making it the perfect backdrop for students to come together and showcase their talents.

Dwight students from participating campuses started a week of adventure, musical exploration, and unforgettable memories by exploring the rich landscapes and heritage of Dubai, from its dunes and camels to souks and the stunning architecture of its Downtown (“The Center of Now”), before coming together at Dwight School Dubai to rehearse for the concert. Students shared interests, stories, and musical tips, with the Dwight Dubai students playing warm hosts to their visiting schoolmates.

“I'm really happy to host the Global Music Concert in Dubai this year,” said Ameera Al-Ali ’27, a talented violin and piano player who accompanied many of the soloists at the concert. “I'm really happy that everyone gets to explore the really nice campus here and enjoy the campus and the city—especially as I’m an Emirati myself. I really want to show the other students my country, and hope they enjoy all the different activities here.”

“Having students from around the world on the Dwight Dubai campus has been refreshing,” said clarinet player Hamish Crowther ‘25. “It’s all these new faces, all these new people, and all these new friends, really. It’s a bit surreal!”

Not only was this a first for Dwight Dubai, but also a first for the Global Concert. The annual concert is normally held in large venues, such as Carnegie Hall (NYC), Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall (NYC), and Shanghai Concert Hall. But the decision was made early on that the concert would be held on campus, in Dwight Dubai’s auditorium—an untested space that had never held such a large event before.

Dubai is known for building up quickly. The famed Burj Khalifa was built out of the desert landscape in only six years to become the tallest building in the world—with the world’s largest mall directly below. That spirit of “just making it happen” resonated with the Dwight Dubai team, who built up the auditorium, and the Global Music team, who so attentively built up the talents of our students.

Herculean Efforts
A few weeks after the concert, Terry Christgau, Stage Manager for United Harmonies (and Dwight New York’s Director of Advanced Master Theater Program and Director of Upper School Theater Productions), sat back in his chair and recounted its beginnings.

“When I first heard the Global Concert would be on the Dubai campus, my jaw dropped,” said Terry. “I was like, but wait! We usually do this in a world-class venue with union stagehands and all kinds of equipment—and I don't even know what being in that auditorium will entail.”

Terry quickly put his head together with Eric Novod, Music Director for United Harmonies (and Dwight New York’s Head of Performing Arts) to figure out how to ensure the best concert experience for everyone.

Mr. Christgau and Mr. Novod took a whirlwind 3-day trip to Dubai a few months prior to the concert to visit the auditorium and collaborate with the Dwight Dubai leadership team.

“Eric and I made a long, extensive list of recommendations after seeing the auditorium,” Mr. Christgau said, “and everyone was working up until the last minute, even perfecting the lighting the night before the concert.”

The preparation and execution of United Harmonies was a major collaborative effort that included the Dwight Dubai Performing Arts and Communications Departments, the Global Music Team, New York’s Communications Department, and, instrumentally, Mr. Novod and Mr. Christgau—first from afar, and then in person that final busy week.

But all the hard work allowed our students to shine — in one case, literally, thanks to that perfect lighting.

Students in the Spotlight
For months, Dwight students from around the globe, under the guidance of their music teachers, tirelessly prepared for the concert. Then came the big moment! After taking a few days to enjoy much of what Dubai had to offer (and recover from the jet-lag), they gathered together for intense rehearsals and sectionals, with the focus on preparing for the finale: the world premiere of the specially-commissioned “All the World Will Stand.”

Gianna Magliaro ’28, an alto from Dwight Seoul, described how the sectional process helped prepare the students for the finale: “We broke off into different groups, and we took our time to learn all the parts except for the solos. Then once the upper voices had it down pretty good, we came together with the baritones in one room and we were able to run it through. Then we got on the stage and were able to do the whole song with just a few kinks. But we were always ahead of schedule, and that gave us more time to get comfortable with what we knew, so we weren't rushing to catch up.”

The concert rehearsals also provided a unique opportunity for students to engage in musical workshops and masterclasses with a renowned Broadway vocal coach and talented musicians based within the Dubai region. And as the week of rehearsals unfolded, the students not only gelled musically, but bonded as a group.

“It’s great to be able to play music with other Dwight Students from around the world,” said New York guitar player Christopher Labatt ’25, “since I get to experience other cultures and different techniques that I wouldn’t normally play, and see different instruments that I didn’t know existed before.”

“The other musicians are just so spectacular,” said lead drummer Zac Ahmed ’26 from London. “You can teach them something, and they can teach you something. It’s amazing.”

“The people that I've met here share so many interests,” said Gianna. “I feel like we understand each other, and I'm glad I found them.”

These newfound partners-in-music had plenty of fun along the way. At one point, the sparse crowd that attended rehearsals was shocked to hear the opening sax line of Wham!’s “Careless Whisper” played perfectly during a break. After giggles from the stage (not to mention a few high-fives), it was revealed that a few New York students had found that one of the sax players from Shanghai knew the famous intro, and encouraged him to play it.

The groups from each traveling campus solidified their ties as well. Dwight New York Music Teacher Emma Mooradian reflected on what she saw in the New York group: “When you're away from your friends and your family, you really bond. I saw a lot of ‘supporting each other’ amongst the students and across grades, too. It was really nice to see the students lean on each other for support in whatever way they needed.’”

The intensive rehearsals, and more importantly, bonding between the students had a massive impact. “The concert ran smoothly and the faculty and students were comfortable and prepared with the music on stage,” Mr. Novod said. “The logistics backstage and throughout the rehearsal process were similarly smooth. So this was certainly a big picture success!”

A Dedicated Global Music Team
When looking back at this year’s Global Concert, the biggest factor that led to its “big picture success” was the tireless dedication of every educator and staff member to drive students to their fullest potential. Despite jet lag and doubling as chaperones on an international trip (a tiring endeavor in itself!), no one ever lost focus on why they were all there—to support our Dwight students in the lead-up to the performance.

“What I’ll take away most,” said Mr. Novod, “is a deep appreciation for the preparation each campus music team put in that allowed for overall positivity and musical confidence throughout the rehearsal week, and on-stage during the concert. Perhaps more than any other concert I've been a part of, this was evident from day one this year. I think it set us up for success more than anything else.”

Like the students, the music teams from around the world bonded together through the shared experience. “I'm taking away a deeper connection with our international colleagues at the other Dwight schools,” said Ms. Mooradian, who marked her second Global Concert. “It was really great to see them again and connect with them even further, talking about your own experiences teaching at Dwight and how different they can be, and what your school looks like, what your curriculums look like. That's really exciting as a teacher.”

What’s Next?
After the whirlwind week, and immediately after the concert, Dwight New York students returned to their hotel for a late dinner, collapsed, and were up at 4 am to catch their flight home.

Roughly 20 hours later, while shuffling through the line at JFK’s Immigration Hall, piano player Svetlana Stephanopoulos ’27, was asked how she felt a day later.

“Right now, I'm very tired,” she said, “but I think the concert went very, very well, especially because I met a lot of kids from around the world, and made a lot of new connections. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to do an overseas trip like this, because so many kids from around the world get together and play music, and it's just a great experience.”

Mr. Novod hopes to offer more such global community experiences.

“A post-global concert goal is to have music students across Dwight campuses collaborate year round,” Mr. Novod said, “academically as part of IB/DP projects, or informally for fun. For instance, I hope that our NY-based record label, 566 Records, can soon become a global experience.”

Regardless, students from around the Dwight network of schools will continue to enjoy an experience unique to Dwight, one that really doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world, as next year, the Global Concert will return to New York City.

We hope to see you there.

For more details on the songs and performers featured, and the music directors who led them, please review at the official United Harmonies program:


Scroll to top

Dwight School Hanoi

Dwight School Hanoi