Dana (which means ‘the most valuable pearl') Al Fardan truly is one of Qatar’s most valuable gems. She is Qatar’s first and very own female contemporary composer who also founded the country’s first record label called DANA Sounds. She is also a songwriter and symphonic artist who draws inspiration from the rich Qatari cultural heritage she has grown up with and the different genres of music from around the world along with people and different landscapes. Her music is an amalgamation of contemporary and classical blended with Arab influence, and the result is easy-to-listen to and phenomenal.
Dana didn’t start out being a composer. She studied International Relations at the American University of Sharjah (UAE) and also went on to get another degree in gemology from London, and started off working in the Alfardan Group, business empire that includes a jewellery company a family real estate company, before her thoughts turned towards the world of music when she was pregnant with her daughter and realised she wanted to do something on her own, of her own.
Most of her life, she had been tinkering with music in some form or the other, whether it was playing around on a keyboard when she was a child, when she and her sisters were performing musicals of their own at home, or when she was writing songs for her little sister because she thought most nursery rhymes were blatantly ridiculous and their messages horrific, so a passion for music always existed somewhere inside her.
The rest they say is history!
She set off to London in the third trimester of her pregnancy to London with her manager Will Gresford and producer Tim Baxter and recorded her very first album. She delivered her daughter Layla within this time period and continued with the album two weeks after the delivery to finish it. That’s how dedicated she is!
Her fourth album, Sandstorm, was recorded by a string ensemble comprised of QPO members, at Doha’s Katara Studios, a world-class recording facility, and performed with the London Metropolitan Orchestra at The Theatre Royal Haymarket, West End, London to a sold-out audience.
Broken Wings, co-written with Nadim Naaman and based on Khalil Gibran’s 1912 poetic novel of the same name, debuted on 1 August 2018 at The Theatre Royal Haymarket, West End, London and all five performances were fully booked. Dana plans to take this musical to the global stage in 2019. The musical was co-written with Nadim Naaman and it is based on Khalil Gibran’s 1912 poetic novel, Broken Wings.
A programme of her music has also recently been performed in Moscow, to mark the Qatar Russia Year of Culture 2018 and at the Saint Petersburg International Forum where her compositions were performed by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra and the Saint Petersburg Symphony Orchestra.
Dana composed bespoke music for Sheikh Faisal’s travelling art exhibition called ‘Cultures in Dialogue’ which took place at the UNESCO headquarters at the end of last year.
Dana composed a song to support the Qatar national football team at the AFC Asian Cup 2019 in UAE earlier this year. The song is called 'Raise our Flag' and is an inspirational and motivational song for the Qatar national football team to their best, which they did, and brought home the trophy for this tournament.
Her composition Desert Rose, which is the National Museum of Qatar’s has taken Doha by storm.
Dana's 'One Nation' (or 'Al Yaqeen' in Arabic) was released in light of the blockade against Qatar and released a short while after the blockade began in solidarity with the country and is a tribute to the country. It was produced in collaboration with I Love Qatar, Qatar Concert Choir and TBQ Productions and including big names in the music industry including Fahad Al Kubaisi, Essa Al Kubaisi, Fahad Al Mursel, along with Christoph Schmitz on the cello and as music supervisor, Ferdninand Shaffer on percussion, Dimitri Torchinski on the violin, Juan Pestana on the keyboard and base guitar, Mohamed Al Sulaiti on the oud, Moataz on the rababa and Yassine Ayari on the nay.
Dana is Qatar Airways official composer and everytime you board a Qatar Airways flight, you’ll be entertained by her lilting melodies as the airlines takes her music on a journey around the world.
Dana works very closely with the internationally renowned (QPO), who regularly perform her music in Doha.. Guest soloists of the orchestra recently played alongside the London Metropolitan Orchestra at the iconic Theatre Royal Haymarket in London, debuting a full programme of Dana’s repertoire and bringing Qatari music to a UK audience for the first time, to rapturous response.
She also takes part in education initiatives and is the choir Ambassador of the Qatar Primary School Choir of the Year (QPSCotY). She is the composer of the competition theme ‘Wings of the Falcon’ which is performed by 100s of children every year.
Dana has composed the score for’ The Necromancer’ and is working on another British film with a carefully selected international team of talented arrangers, orchestrators and producers.
Dana is also the composer of Qatar’s Lusail Stadium’s official song and will be played at the opening and closing of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Dana is an official 'Friend for Palestine Refugee'. Recently, she visited some United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) schools, a hospital, and a number of community centres in the Palestinians Refugee camps in Amman, Jordan, and was able to shed light on the Gaza situation, so she would encourage others to support and donate. She volunteers with the Qatar Red Crescent Society, United Nations and UNRWA to support their joint humanitarian campaign for Gaza.
To listen to the Hope for Gaza song: click and play the video below:
Source: DANA Sounds
In 2017, Dana won the ‘Woman Of The Year’ award at the Grazia Style Awards 2017.
This is what Arab America had to say about Dana:
“A new international sensation in world music.”
This is what Seen in the City, London had to say about Dana:
“Groundbreaking…a musical must-see…a perfect example of the great things the arts world can achieve when several cultures come together…”
This is what Culture Whisper, London had to say about Dana:
“Al Fardan is at the forefront of professional and influential women in Qatar…”
For more information about Dana Al Fardan, check out her social media pages:
Have you heard Dana Al Fardan's compositions? Are they not beautiful? Have you been to any of her concerts? Do let us know your thoughts on this talented woman and her many achievements. Like and share the article - it keeps us going!
Cover image credit: Herbert Mag
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