The Qatar-MENASA 2022 Year of Culture today announced the world premiere of The Desert Rose symphony will take place on 30 October 2022 as part of the 10-year anniversary celebration of the Years of Culture program. The commemorative symphony, commissioned by the Years of Culture, will be performed by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra with Grammy-nominated guest conductor Alastair Willis, on the Baraha of the National Museum of Qatar. The symphony, which celebrates Qatar’s culture and heritage, is composed by Malek Jandali, a prominent Syrian American composer and pianist and Qatar Museum’s new honorary Composer-in-Residence. A public performance will be held on 31 October 2022 in the same location. Tickets for the performance are available HERE. The two concerts are part of Qatar Creates — the year-round national cultural movement that curates, promotes, and celebrates the diversity of cultural activities in Qatar; connecting resident and global audiences with Qatar’s creative industries.
The Desert Rose album features two world-class symphonies, including Symphony No. 6 The Desert Rose, and Symphony No. 4 for String Orchestra recorded under the helm of distinguished American conductor Marin Alsop with the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra. It is now available on music streaming services and copies of the album are at all Qatar Museums gift shops.
The Desert Rose is inspired by nature’s desert rose, which form over millennia through the interaction of minerals, sand, and water in regions such as Qatar—a land of desert and sea. This wonder of nature is also the basis for Jean Nouvel’s spectacular design of the National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ), a stunning structure of interlocking discs that tells the story of Qatar from the natural history of its origins through its cultural developments to the cutting-edge technologies and international allure of today. The Desert Rose symphony takes its inspiration from both “desert roses,” transforming them into a consummate orchestral work that preserves and extends the rich heritage of the region. The symphony is also a reference to the flag of Qatar, with its nine-movements—each based on an iconic element of Qatari culture—evoking the nine-point serrated line on the flag.
The symphony is the culmination of more than four years of research and exploration, during which Jandali entrenched himself in the sounds and landscapes of Qatar, to preserve and present Qatari cultural heritage and traditions on the global stage.
“I take great pleasure in announcing these symphonies, which so beautifully tell the story of Qatar’s history and culture through music. Malek Jandali has a sincere appreciation of Qatari heritage, and his mission to unite nations across the world through the arts aligns so strongly with the purpose of Years of Culture. We are delighted to be collaborating with him on these inspiring symphonies.”
“Through this timely partnership with Years of Culture, I have the honor of presenting Qatar’s musical traditions on the global stage,” states Malek Jandali. “Together, we are contributing our rich Arab heritage to the lexicon of classical music and the progression of cultural modernity. We welcome orchestras around the world to join our symphony of peace, unity, and humanity.”
Like its inspirations, The Desert Rose symphony harbors an elaborate interlocking structure. Bookmarked in A-flat major, in which key the first and last movements end, the Symphony comprises three interlaced musical forms. One is a Qatari symphonic suite based on traditional folk music and dances using the principal of contrast: Movements II, III, V and VII. Second is a traditional “old-fashioned” symphony of four Movements I, IV, VI and IX. The third combines the first two “symphonies” with Movement VIII, which brings about the grandiose conclusion of The Desert Rose.
“I don’t know of another composer who so successfully weaves in the Arabic, particularly the folk [musical] elements. Jandali belongs among the superb composer poets of our time. A meaningful voice of quite astonishing, almost unearthly beauty.” As to nature’s desert rose, an example of which she was able to touch leading up to the recording sessions, Alsop said she was struck by its sturdiness. “Seeing the actual desert rose made me feel much more connected to our heritage as human beings on the planet. And maybe that’s the goal—to find that fundamental connection among all of us as human beings instead of all these superficial things.”
The album’s second symphony, Symphony No. 4 for String Orchestra, was composed by Jandali in 2020 and inspired by the idea of writing for strings only while continuing his quest to preserve and present the rich heritage of Arab music. “I was especially interested in trying to obtain all the colors of the orchestra using a palette of instruments that on the surface seem to present a similar timbre,” explained Jandali.
Source and cover image credit: Press release
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