Updated at 11:15am with comment from QPO’s executive director.
In a surprise move, the head of the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra (QPO) has announced her resignation this week, citing “persistent administrative difficulties and irreconcilable artistic differences” with management.
Korean conductor Han-Na Chang, 31, was the orchestra’s first female musical director and had held the prestigious position for one year. Her resignation in the middle of an international tour has come as a shock to fellow musicians.
It also came only a day after a highly successful debut performance by QPO at the world-famous BBC Proms in London on Sept. 7.
This was the first time Chang conducted at the event, although she has played cello there in the past.
Chang is regarded as having been instrumental in succeeding to persuade the Proms organizers to allow the QPO to perform at the annual classical music festival at the Albert Hall.
Part of Qatar Foundation, the QPO was set up six years ago by QF chairperson Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, who said the aim was to spread an appreciation of classical music in the region and to act as a way of bringing Arab music to the wider world.
The orchestra’s Executive Director Kurt Meister regularly tours the globe, on the look out for young talent, and the orchestra’s 101 musicians hail from 30 countries.
Based at the Katara Cultural Village opera house, the orchestra performs twice a week seasonally, and also undertakes a number of international concerts each year.
In a statement issued yesterday, Chang announced her resignation, and said that due to “unexpected visa complications,” along with advice from the Italian Embassy in London, she would not accompany her 90 musicians to perform in a concert at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome today.
She will be replaced in Rome by Russian conductor Dmitrij Kitajenko, Classical Music Magazine said.
Chang went on to say that she has withdrawn from all further performances by the QPO. She added:
“It is a very sad day for me. Just over a year ago I was honored to take up this position. At that time I made clear my belief that the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra could become an international ensemble of excellence and I have had the privilege of seeing that belief vindicated through the skill, hard work and commitment of this wonderful group of players, culminating in the orchestra’s debut at the Proms yesterday.
I send my deepest thanks to everyone involved for what we have achieved together and I wish the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra all the very best for its future.”
A QF spokesperson confirmed Chang’s departure but did not comment further, but in a statement released today, QPO’s executive director Meister said:
“Qatar Philharmonic would like to thank Han-Na Chang for her work with the orchestra, and wish her the best for the future. We look forward to Dmitri Kitajenko and our orchestra sharing music with our audience at the performance in Rome this evening.”
It remains unclear who will conduct the upcoming performances QPO has scheduled in Doha.
Following Chang’s resignation yesterday, many in the classical music world have been expressing surprise on Twitter about the announcement:
this is most odd http://t.co/ljzXVhx5Qm … she seemed v. positive about future when we spoke on Saturday …
— Petroc Trelawny (@PetrocTrelawny) September 8, 2014
Just saw that my friend and colleague Han-na Chang has resigned as music director of Qatar Phil after just a year http://t.co/YnyZtWtEVV
— Finghin Collins (@FinghinCollins) September 8, 2014
Han-Na Chang resignation from @QatarPO a bit of a shock after fine performance yesterday @bbcproms
— Tim Ashley (@TimAshAsh) September 8, 2014
Chang was the orchestra’s third musical director, succeeding Michalis Economou and Nader Abbassi, although QPO also works with a number of guest conductors.
When she took up the role last September, Chang spoke of her plans to make Doha and the QPO her “musical home for the next few years.”
She was one of just a handful of female conductors of symphony orchestras across the world, however in an interview she gave to Classical Music magazine last month, Chang was keen not to focus on her gender, saying:
“I try not to be a woman conductor, but a good conductor, with honesty and sincerity in my interpretations that I can share with the musicians.”
Very sad, she was an amazing musician. What a loss to #QPO & to #Qatar…
another place where there are always ‘irreconcilable’ differences.
Always the same pattern, those in charge are not left in charge, because of other people interference! That’s why good things don’t last here, QPO is a very good thing, if left in charge to those knowledgeable.
The first conductor had the same problem
A real shame, Han-Na Chang is an extremely talented and driven individual, a real loss to QPO. I wish her all the best in her future endeavors.
Judging by the tone of this comment, it almost sounds as if QPO management didn’t get her the proper visa to legally perform in Italy?
‘Because of unexpected visa complications and on the advice of the Italian Embassy in London, to my regret I am legally unable to perform with the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra in Rome on Tuesday 9 September and I have withdrawn from all subsequent performances with the QPO.’
I guess the truth will reveal itself eventually.
you can perform in Italy if you have your visa ok to enter the country, the same happens for the rest of the Shengen countries. As you say, the truth will reveal eventually later on….
Whatever the case may be, in her statement she confirms that she received legal advice that whatever visa was obtained by her/for her, would not legally allow her to work in her capacity as conductor in Italy.
I doubt she would want to risk prosecution because of some small visa issue.
Something not being disclosed here. More to it then is being let out.
This is usually the case.
Its such a shame that such talented and professional people don’t want to continue and all this excuses regarding the ” unexpected visa complications,” is just a distraction as usual
What is the point of having the QPO in the first place? It is just one of those projects where you spend a huge amount of money with no return on investment. And in a society (and region) where music is seen as a sin, such a project is an affront to the local culture and traditions.
who says music is a sin?
Some strange follows of Islam do say listening to music is a sin but its not the majority.
I suppose their phones will be permantly on silent or vibrate mode
Vibration is a sin!
No it is not
It is if its in a girl’s pocket….
Hahahahahahahah. You guys are hilarious!
Have you ever googled cell phones and Islam? There’s no shortage of websites that will tell you the appropriate ring tone to use, where you can/cannot answer it, whether you should use religious ring tones. I would never have thought there would be so many clerics issuing so many fatwas about cell phones.
Prophet Mohamed’s ring tone was the call to pray, they should all adopt that. (Go on prove that is wasn’t…)
Using the call to prayer as a ringtone isn’t considered acceptable, since you cannot interrupt it midway through to answer the call. There are fatwas about that (and so much more online).
They can use Duaas or Quran recitation for that. I know some wanna-be Jihadis in my country who use the sound of Kalashnikov as it reminds them of the glory of war and Jihad. Other than that, you can use the sound of birds or any other animal you like.
You need more alternatives? Use the vibrate mode or even better, put it on silent and call back when you miss the call 😀
The general rule is that conservative Muslims assume it is a sin and the moderate ones (Sufis, Ashaaris, etc) will say it is not.
Perhaps a fringe lunatic minority. And why would music be a sin?
Because of a Hadith by the prophet that says so.
Most Hadiths were fabricated by the rulers of the day to justify their polices, early Islamic scholars realised this problem but the debate on their authencity has been stifled.
Wow. So we have a scholar in Islam here with us? 🙂
Well I certainly won’t be getting an invite to talk at the next Islamic conference by the religiously minded but I am a student of history.
Your brand or all brands? Me thinks your brand. Or the ISIS brand. One in the same?
My brand does not like music at all, so I do not have to ask myself the question of music being Halal or Haram
Really? Wow I’d hate to grow up in your house. And sport? Some muslims believe sport is haram as well.
Getting off track here. Deleting the comments that are repetitive and irrelevant.
Why are you singling out mine? 🙁
Lots of Muslims believe that music is haram.
Lots of Muslims believe that music isn’t haram.
And lots of Muslims believe that some music, but not all music, is haram.
There doesn’t seem to be any agreement on it.
Google “is music a sin in Islam” and you’ll find 1000 different pages with 2000 different opinions.
During Ramadan in Dubai bars are allowed to open at night but they are not allowed to play music, I’ve always wondered if that meant that music was more sinful than alcohol?
That’s a total knock out to the “local” mentality of how to mix traditions with modernization ! They want to appease both groups: religious traditionalists vs. modern expats.
Well done my friend !
really? I did not know that listening to Mozart is sinful….sinful in the Gulf because in some major Muslim countries music is not considered a sin. Music was born with man! It is part of our humanity. To say the contrary is to go back to the caves
This is Islam. Some people will tell you it is a sin and some others will have a softer stance.
I did not know that in the Coran was written that listening to Mozart and Bethoven was a sin….independently of people’s interpretation. However, in the biggest Muslim country in the world, which is Indonesia, Muslims there listen to music and dance too!
Obviously you’re clueless and don’t get it.
???? Sorry can you explain? 🙂
Amenities like this are not measured in return on investment in $$$. It’s the cultural benefit to the society and citizens. Unfortunately it seems people from here can only think in $$$ terms. What a shame.
ROI does not mean necessarily money, that is why I did not specify. I worked in an art institution so I know very well that art and culture cannot always be measured with money. So I stand corrected: this project has no ROI whatsoever; financial, cultural, educational, artistic…
so you had no qualms being paid by an arts institution that, in your opinion, offers no ROI, has nothing to be proud of, and has a history of promoting live music… interesting.
That is why I left…
Sad for you, and your children, that you feel this way. If you have no children I hope you see the light sooner than later.
while i admit many muslims consider music sinful i would say saying the “society” sees music as a sinn is mistaken. or els the “society” would do something about people driving around in their cars/ motorcycles while playing music incredibly loudly and the “society” wouldnt allow people to throw festivals with music like the ones we see in the souq from time to time
Gee, what next…
Maybe the “society” would force MBC to cancel Arab Idol auditions in Qatar.
Oh, wait… that already happened.
In all fairness arab idol is a crappy show.
Lol. I agree. I don’t speak Arabic so I don’t really remember ever working out why there was so much outrage and hatred towards the Arab Idol auditions in Qatar. Do you know what the ‘real’ reason was for MBC cancelling the auditions?
Rumour is we would be embarrassed by people proclaiming themselfs representatives of qatar and then sing baby got back or something
Society have already made a mockery of two girls who removed their headscarves in Brazil and forced a Telecom company that invested millions in the show to withdraw its support of the show and lose its money
And your point is?
Linking the society perception of something to its action does not always work. The Qatari society is conservative by default and it has voiced its disagreement with many things, but it is not because they are not protesting against people putting music loudly in their cars we should conclude that they approve of that.
Obviously, there are people who do not find it a sin and there are others who find it a sin but would still listen to it. That said I still think the Qatari society is conservative and religious. And music in particular is not something that sits well with many people
In my brief experience, I primarily find Qatari society to be very nationalistic and, to be honest, racist.
The most striking is the fact that even children are raised to look down upon people of lower social status. This is very sad.
Nowhere in the Holy Quran does it state that music is a sin. Furthermore, if it was a “sin”, the Quranic verses would not be recited in a melodic form. QPO is a fantastic organization that promotes both Arab (and other regional) music as well as world music in a very professional way, something that cannot be said about any other institution in this region. It’s something that Qatar should be proud of and promote. Let’s hope it stays with us for a long time.
I do not agree with the idea that Qatar should be proud of anything that is not made in Qatar by Qataris.
That leaves you with a vanishingly small field.
Wow, I’m floored… So what you are essentially saying is that you are not proud that Shaikha Moza is attempting to broaden this country’s impact on the world. Okay, so if we stick to your definition of being pride, please educate the readers what you are proud of that is made by Qataris? I’m genuinely curious.
Are you being sarcastic or you are talking seriously? Why would any Qatari be proud of something that is made by a team of expats with not even one single Qatari onboard?
I had that discussion with Qatari colleagues with regards to sports and I can confirm to you that most of them only cheer when Mutaz Barshim or other Qataris win a competition. When it comes to naturalized “Qataris”, they don’t even bother to know what they are competing for in the first place.
I agree. I am tired of seeing Qatar trying to import culture and portray itself as this place where everyone is sophisticated and “high class”. It is an inaccurate representation of what the country is really like and I can think of numerous ways these fortunes can be spent on projects that can actually benefit the people. Same applies to sports as you said, I lost interest in any Qatari sport teams a long time ago because 90% of the time they are people who were “bought”.
$21 billion spending on the WC could sure do some good on the earth but then no prestige in doing that I guess. One thing we all know is Qatar and Qataris like the prestige and “showing off”.
Most Qataris would be against the WC more on cultural and religious reasons, there are very few I know who thought it would be a good thing.
As for your day to day “showing off”, well the European designer brands and cars they buy to “show off” were popular in Europe as “showing off merchandise” long before they arrived in Qatar, and the American media producing material with titles like “MTV cribs”, “My Super Sweet 16”, “Lifestyles of the rich and famous” etc, celebrate frivolous spending far more than some Qataris splurging on holiday or in Doha. There is a reason financing and credit card companies are huge industries in the West, often allowing people to live lifestyles they can’t really afford. Only difference is the average Qatari can afford to “show off” at a far greater level than the average Westerner.
Difference being that those shows , etc show the atypical, not the norm like here.
That’s because the “norm” there is using debt to show off with things like iphones, or 3 series bmws etc, even using student loans that is supposed to fund their education on consumer nonsense they don’t really need. One can only imagine what they would do on Qatari salaries.
I don’t really think Iphones and 3 series BMWs is showing off lol. I had both but never went into debt. I had a partial loan for the car but that’s the norm. We americans don’t usually have $30k in our pockets. And using student loans is pretty much impossible to do if not going to school. Here is just a different culture and I’ll leave it at that.
Not much to be proud of then I guess. Guess someone needs to get off their duffs and do something, ANYTHING.
I was not being sarcastic. In most countries nowadays, societies are mixed, consequently achievements of those societies are a common effort of locals and adopted residents (citizens or not), and people express pride in the achievements that occur in that country. But for you to state that you are not proud of an initiative that one of your leaders initiated, for me at least, is strange, and actually sad. So to extend your argument further, is Mutaz a “real’ Qatari? In my eyes he is, in the eyes of many of your compatriots he is not (and we both know why) and he is trained by a foreign coach, so unfortunately your logic here is somewhat flawed.
As we are likely to get into a circular argument here, I will end on this, Qatari society would not be able to enjoy the high standard of living it expects without the input and assistance of expatriates. If you can name one single organisation in this country which is 100% Qatari staffed and produces anything, I would love to know what it is, because I am actually not aware of any. If you cannot, I sincerely wish you luck in finding something to be proud about (using your narrow logic), as we all need that.
Made in Qatar by Qataris … hhmnnn… let’s see…funded by Qatar – YES … made in Qatar – YES and by Qataris – ??. Can someone please help me ? i can’t seem to think of one thing that is made by Qataris. Btw… QPO is a wonderful idea by HH Sheikha Moza … do try and look beyond ‘by Qatari’ ideology.
What else is there here then?
“And in a society (and region) where music is seen as a sin, such a project is an affront to the local culture and traditions.” Only close minded salafis see it that way.
The region is full of “closed minded salafis” and Wahabis. In Qatar in particular, many salafis/wahabis/fanatics were outraged two weeks ago to see some Qataris girls without headscarf in Brazil! And do not tell me they were a minority!
There were also a lot of people who supported those girls you mentioned. Moreover, those outraged were both hypocrites and cowards; how come we never heard a peep from them when pictures of Qatari ladies without their hijab officially representing Qatar were on the front pages of local newspapers?
I assume that you are Mustlim. So, with due respect, I suggest that you study your religion before making false statements.
Music was forbidden by the Prophet of Islam. So, it is forbidden in Islam. There is no shame in admitting it but rather shameful to falsify it.
My o my, how presumptuous; you presume to know more on this subject than I do, and just like that, you accuse me of falsifying facts! This particular topic is one that I have read about and researched for a long time. Suffice it to say, many well known scholars like Dr. Yusif Al Qaradawi, and Dr. Mohammed Al-Ghazali (look them up) and agree with your statement!
I won’t even bother to ask if you are a Muslim or not because that does not matter. However, your statement is similar to the ones we hear from both Salafis who interpret the Quran and Hadith without bothering to read the interpretation of the various schools and scholars of Islam, as well as non-Muslims who selectively interpret the same texts to conclude that Islam is a violent religion.
It’s Qatar’s entry into Fantasy Philharmonics, the Premier League of high-brow cultural showing-off!
Qatar needs one because London / Vienna / Moscow / etc. have them I guess. Hey, if you have the money, it seems to me a better way of spending it than creating hectares of reclaimed geo-graffiti islands in the sea.
A great loss and a great shame.
All very strange, Katara and the QPO were doing a good job of bringing some (acceptable) culture to Qatar. Something for tourists to actually enjoy in the barren cultural desert that is Qatar. It would be a shame if it is ruined and talented musicians are put off coming to Doha because of a bad reputation.
” the barren cultural desert that is Qatar.” Okay, that’s just mean!
You could say its a bit mean, but it is just. QTA wants to increase the tourist numbers but why would they come now? To see the Land Cruisers dance the dance of death on the roads and smoke shisha?
They is very little history, its not China or Europe, not many activities to keep tourists busy, its no DisneyLand or Dubai and it doesn’t have a thriving nightlife for the younger generation, aka Phuket, Ibiza et al. (Thank God for the last one)
It has MIA which is great, Katara if they don’t mess it up… but then its rather lacking. You might come once, you certainly wouldn’t come back.
I was just teasing you 😉
This thread is the most depressing thing I have ever read.
Han-Na Chang clearly could not work with or for her bosses. Unlike most in Qatar she is ‘internationally mobile’ and left, most do not have that choice so they put up with crap on a daily basis from a schizophrenic indigenous management that is in a word, incompetent.
The thread descends quickly into a debate about the merits of ring tones and the same old muslim vs western attitudes to life, love and the universe. Qatar should make up its mind what it wants to be, a liberal muslim state embracing change and development of its people or a more conservative authoritarian one in which everybody knows where they stand. Overlay that with the preverbal arab spring ‘sword of Damocles’ hanging over the leadership which is dealt with by buying off the citizenry with inflated salaries, unprecedented perks and little or no accountability and there you have it, a recipe for short term gains and longterm decay and ultimately, failure. But, as long as we have gas everything in the garden will be just rosy. Finally, having incredible wealth does not in itself gain you international respect or make you smart, if anything it makes you a target and laughing stock. Just look at the FIFA 2022 debacle, the international outcry over the mistreatment of expat (mostly asian) labour, the withdrawal of KSA, UAE and Bahrain’s ambassadors and Qatar’s unfathomable foreign policy as a few examples. Hardly the hallmark of a progressive forward thinking nation?
You really need me to explain?
You obviously haven’t read many threads on here then…..
This is a very sad story indeed. Having a pioneer lead the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra into the international stage is an incredible feat for Qatar. Sadly, this is the case in most companies in Qatar where dreams and mission are so big and there is no follow up and commitment to take that leap.
So whay are you adding the spammy link at the end of your comment?
You cannot look at it from your perspective and say that it is a cultural desert because obviously it is full of Qatari culture. It is of course very limited for the expat community, especially the young, coming as they do from free western societies. I do think though that the QPO ranks along WC2022 as a Qatari attempt to present an acceptable face of Qatar to the world. Doesn’t work for those who live in the country and know better.