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RIYADH: In recognition of the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, the Embassy of France and the Alliance Francaise in Saudi Arabia recently hosted a special show combining symphonic music and sports.

Held at the Cultural Palace in Riyadh’s diplomatic quarter, the show, entitled “Sporting Rhapsody” was the brainchild of Zahia Ziouani and featured the Divertimento Orchestra, which he founded in 1998.

The French Algerian conductor said he wanted to show that classical music is still relevant.

“I feel so passionate about music and the desire to be with the audience and make it possible for the audience to see that classical music is not music of the past, but we can bring together modern and contemporary ways of dance and music.” she told Arab News.

“I want to be very creative on the stand and I’m very happy to lead my orchestra. It’s always been a dream for me and now I can do it.”

She said she was also delighted to be given the opportunity to perform in the Kingdom.

“This program is about the spirit of the Olympics and mixing music with sport… to be here in Riyadh is a very big symbol and I’m very proud of it.”

France’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ludovic Pouille, who will step down later this year, introduced the event.

“I’m very happy because this was an amazing show,” he said. “Mixing classical music, a French orchestra and French dancers and athletes representing all types of sports, just weeks before the Paris Olympics.

“I have to say that I was so impressed by the hospitality of the Saudi people and the enthusiasm (I received) from all the events that I organized. There is a cultural dialogue between France and Saudi Arabia. The opening of Saudi Arabia is very important, not just for the country, but for the world.”

Fencing, boxing, tennis, BMX and breaking all featured in the show, performed against symphonic music from France, Spain, UK, USA and around the world.

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