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

Held at the Palace of Culture in Riyadh’s diplomatic quarter, the show titled “Rhapsodie Sportive” was the brainchild of Zahia Ziouani and featured the Divertimento Orchestra, which she 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 will to be with the audience and to allow the audience to see that classical music is not the music of the past, but we can connect 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 conduct my orchestra.” It’s always been a dream for me and now I can do it.”

She also said that she was delighted to get the opportunity to perform in the Kingdom.

“This program is about the spirit of the Olympic Games and the mixing of music and sports… being here in Riyadh is a very big symbol and I am very proud of this.”

French Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ludovic Pouille, who will retire later this year, introduced the event.

“I’m very happy because it was an amazing show,” he said. “A mix of classical music, a French orchestra and French players and athletes representing all kinds of sports, just a few weeks before the Paris Olympics.”

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

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

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