More people in Qatar need to take an interest in music, according to a leading expert, who has claimed that the work of various cultural programmes has had an “excellent impact” on local interest in music and the arts but argued that more could be done to develop passion for the “rich cultural heritage” of the country.
With the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra’s (QPO) second season to begin this weekend, the orchestra’s musical director, Marcel Khalife has been in Doha to assist in his role of developing the orchestra and raising its profile in Qatar and the rest of the world.
Khalife is a world-renowned musician and composer, and his performance of his own composition, ‘The Arabian Concerto’ during QPO’s first season was one of the highlights of the inaugural year.
Mindful of the difficulties of creating an Oriental or Arabian sound using European classical instruments, Khalife managed to merge two seemingly incompatible traditions to create a truly beautiful piece which was played brilliantly and very well received when performed last year.
Khalife took this piece on tour with the orchestra earlier this year, and played it to audiences in Washington, Paris and various other destinations to great acclaim.
“There is definitely an audience for this music,” said Khalife, “all over the world people are coming to see this piece and find out something about it.”
The composer told Gulf Times that he was already working on a similar piece of work for the coming season, and he claimed that his latest piece will be performed in either February or March of next year.
He explained that this latest piece would consist of Arabic musicians and instruments as well as Arabic choral singers and soloists playing alongside the QPO.
Khalife is obviously proud of the orchestra’s achievements so far and although his busy schedule means he can only be here for short periods of time, he is doing his best to pass on his experience to the young group of musicians.
“This is a very young and fresh group,” he said, adding “this makes it very exciting, but they have to find their own style as well.”
He explained that the contribution of Lorin Maazel, who is widely recognised at the greatest conductor in the world, had helped significantly in creating an international reputation for QPO, and his “sensitivities towards music” had also helped the fusion and musical development of the group.
He also mentioned that Maazel had personally requested that Khalife compose an overture for a performance last month in Italy – a clear indication of the strong interest in Arabic music in the classical world.
But he pointed out that more people in Qatar and the rest of the Arab world need to take an interest in listening to classical music – and this was the initial aim behind the forming of the orchestra.
“At the start of this project the response was great,” he claimed, adding “this is all down to the work of HH Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al-Misnad and Qatar Foundation.”
“It is important that we keep up the promotion of music here and we keep educating the youth,” he said, mentioning the music academy associated with the QPO and expressing the hope that this will breed Qatari musicians who will take Arabic music to the rest of the world in the future.
As a figure who has traversed both the Eastern and Western worlds of music throughout his career, Khalife recognises the importance of music and culture in building bridges between different countries.
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