Browsing 'music' News

Qatar’s airport has a new theme song, and the country’s national carrier has just released a beautifully-shot video of it.

The anthem, called The Beginning, is the result of a collaboration between local singer-songwriter Dana Alfardan and the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra (QPO).

The four-minute video starts with a solo pianist playing in the middle of the desert.

HIA theme song

Video still

HIA theme song

It then pans to the outside of Hamad International Airport (HIA), before moving inside to feature the QPO.

Musicians are set up in front of the iconic Lamp Bear, playing on escalators and moving walkways.

Some are even shown performing on the airport’s people mover, which is operational but has yet to open to travelers.

The video is set to be shown onboard Qatar Airways flights as part of its entertainment.

It was first screened in Doha at a private event in June.

London debut

The score took around a month to write and more than 70 musicians played in the theme.

The film features some of the art works at the airport which are an important aspect of Qatar’s cultural development, Alfardan told Doha News.

In a statement, Alfardan said she was “beyond privileged and honored” for the song to be used by HIA, which “is a symbolic location both within Qatar and the region.”

This is not the first collaboration between the 31-year-old and the QPO.

Two years ago, the orchestra performed a collection of her songs in a show titled Layla, named after her daughter.

Promotional poster for Guy Manoukian and Dana Alfardan concert in London

Guy Manoukian/Twitter

Promotional poster for Guy Manoukian and Dana Alfardan concert in London

Earlier this summer, the composer held her first London concert.

There, songs from her latest album Sandstorm were performed by members of the UK-based Orion Orchestra at Cadogan Hall, alongside  Lebanese-American composer and pianist Guy Manoukian.

Alfardan, who is also the CEO and founder of the indie music label DNA, has also been collaborating with Manoukian for a new album that is set to be released later this year.


For illustrative purposes only

James Zach Hollo

For illustrative purposes only

With reporting from Malak Mounir

After four years, the jazz club at the St. Regis Doha and New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) are going their separate ways, the hotel has confirmed.

In a statement to Doha News, the St. Regis said that it had “initiated the change” because it wanted to offer “a greater variety of music offerings at the venue and to cater to a more diverse crowd in Doha.”

When asked if financial considerations played a role, the hotel said that it was “really about wanting more flexibility.”

Jazz at Lincoln Center has not yet responded to a request for comment.

World-class music

JALCD opened to much fanfare in 2012.

It was the first international outpost for the world-renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) in New York, the brainchild of jazz superstar Wynton Marsalis.

During its launch, the club was trumpeted by both the hotel and JALC as a way of bringing world-class jazz music to Qatar.

Paul James, the global brand leader for St. Regis Hotels, told the New York Times in 2011 that the deal, in which the hotel flew in JALC artists, gave the club a unique edge over its competition:

“You can make a jazz club, but you can’t make a Jazz at Lincoln Center jazz club,” Mr. James said. “That sense of quality and professionalism and the talent of that musician pool is untouchable.”

However, the St. Regis Doha management has decided to take the venue in a different direction.

The hotel’s website now advertises The Club at the St. Regis, instead of “Jazz at Lincoln Center Doha.”

In its statement to Doha News, the St. Regis said it hoped to “cater to a multitude of music genres, providing a little bit of something for everyone.”

The St. Regis added that it had enjoyed “a very successful partnership (with JALC) over the years” and that the two parties had “mutually collaborated” over the closure of JALCD.

Entry restrictions

Since it opened, the club has proved to be a popular for venue with Qatar residents and tourists.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Doha

Victoria Scott

Jazz at Lincoln Center Doha

Its mix of music and alcohol made it a big draw for the expat community, but the venue has previously sparked controversy for not allowing entry to locals in national dress (as per the law) because it served alcohol.

In 2014, Nayla Al Thani, a Qatari student at Northwestern University in Qatar, told Doha News that she was annoyed that she couldn’t visit the venue to celebrate her friend’s birthday:

“It was very upsetting to be honest. I was mad at the concept that I can’t eat at a restaurant in my own country.”

To expand its reach to the wider community, JALCD branched out with free monthly concerts at the Museum of Islamic Art park, as well as family-friendly daytime events in the club.

However, a spokesperson for the St. Regis Doha said that these events are not expected to continue when the club re-launches.

Summer festival

Now operating under a new name and no longer exclusively showcasing JALC artists, The Club at the St. Regis is currently advertising what it calls an “unforgettable summer music festival.”

Deborah Bond


Deborah Bond

The club’s confirmed summer line-up features a band made up of five international artists, fronted by American singer Debórah Bond.

No entry fee is being charged for the shows, which operate Wednesday to Saturday. The event runs until the end of September, when the club will be re-launched.

The St. Regis said that the venue is still working with an agency to finalize the new branding for the club.

While its former Twitter account has been deleted, JALCD’s Facebook page continues to operate.

Expansion plans

When the deal between the St. Regis Doha and JALC was signed, the New York jazz club said that the venue in Qatar would be the first of five planned around the world.

 For illustrative purposes only


For illustrative purposes only

So far, however, JALCD remains the only one to have opened.

But JALC Shanghai is reportedly scheduled to open this year in a new complex called The Central, opposite the city’s Holy Trinity church.

Did you visit JALCD? How do you feel about the change? Thoughts?

Salvaggio playing her violin

Sylvie van Roey

Salvaggio playing her violin

In some ways, Julia Salvaggio is just like every other 13-year-old. She goes to school, hangs out with her friends and jokes around with her little brother.

But she’s also one of the world’s most promising musicians, and has a shiny new trophy to prove it.

Earlier this month, Julia placed absolute first at the Paolo Barrasso, a prestigious international music competition in Italy.

Some 500 people from across the world participated in the competition, and only 20 placed absolute first by scoring 100 out of 100. Of those, only two played the violin, including Julia.

The teen is also the first person to participate in the Paolo Barrasso from Qatar.

Qatar Music Academy

Originally of Italian and Belgian descent, Julia has spent most of her life in Doha, and has been playing the violin since she was three years old.

Musical talent runs in her family – her brother plays drums and will soon be auditioning for a youth orchestra, her father used to play the clarinet and her mother’s uncle was a successful professional pianist.

In 2012, Julia joined the Qatar Music Academy (QMA) at Katara Cultural Village.

QMA, which is part of Qatar Foundation, opened in 2011 to promote music education.

There, she honed her violin playing with private tutoring, became a part of a trio and ensemble, and took music theory theories – a subject she has found difficult, Julia admitted to Doha News.

Qatar Music Academy

Qatar Music Academy/Facebook

Qatar Music Academy

She added, “at QMA we have teachers from all over the world who are qualified and help us improve.”

Being part of an institute has also helped her expand her social circle with like-minded people.

“We all share the same passion, so that’s also really nice to meet people like this at QMA,” she said.

In addition to training at QMA, Julia said she practiced at least an hour and a half a day for weeks before attending the competition.

This may not seem like a lot of time, she said, but the key was focus:

“A little bit of practice with a lot of concentration can do more than a lot of practice without concentration. I just put my gears on, and realized that I was going for a competition here.”

Staying committed

Still, maintaining focus hasn’t always been easy.

Julia is also a Year 8 student at Park House English School and has a tough time managing her schoolwork with QMA, which she goes to twice a week, including on the weekend.

While Julia said she enjoys QMA-related opportunities such as performing with its Youth Orchestra and alongside the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, she added that it’s still difficult to stay committed to her instrument at times.

And getting out of bed on weekends to practice can be tough.

Julia said when this happens, she gives herself a pep talk. “I have to think, ‘What would happen if I didn’t play the violin today?’ ”

Mastering the violin entails continuous practice, including preparing before a lesson, she said.

“There’s nothing worse than arriving to a lesson unprepared. It’s not a nice feeling and you have no sense of accomplishment,” Julia said.

“I won’t get anywhere if I stay in bed,” she added.

When her daughter gets stressed, mother Sylvie van Roey said she encourages Julia to take a break and go for a walk or engage in sports.

“I always let her… choose what was the best option for her.

She is my daughter but also she is becoming my best friend and I will always support her in what makes her happy. In (a) few years she (will) start to see a big result in the huge efforts she has put to reach her level and I am just proud of her,” van Roey told Doha News.

Future plans

Salvaggio said she plans on partaking in even more prestigious competitions in the upcoming years, but only after she gets through her IGCSE exams. “It’s good to balance both,” she said.

But despite her potential, she has yet to decide whether to play the violin professionally.

Julia Salvaggio

Neha Rashid/Doha News

Julia Salvaggio

“I also have other ideas,” she said, adding that she is considering a career in either computer sciences or electronic engineering.

However, just like many 13-year-olds, she remains unsure.

“If I happen to become better at the violin, and if I happen to keep going on the track I’m going on right now, I guess there’s a possibility of me playing the violin professionally,” she said.