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Soloist David de Winter, Qatar Concert Choir


Soloist David de Winter, Qatar Concert Choir

As the end of this year approaches, singers and musicians from around Qatar are preparing for more than half a dozen concerts and events around town.

Two of Qatar’s largest amateur choirs, the Qatar Concert Choir (QCC) and Doha Singers, will each host three such events in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra (QPO) has five concerts scheduled, including its inaugural collaboration with the QCC.

Giovanni Pasini, conductor of Qatar Concert Choir


Giovanni Pasini, conductor of Qatar Concert Choir

The two groups will together perform Broadway Melodies on Dec. 9, singing numbers from well-known musicals including Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, A Chorus Line and Mamma Mia.

The event is part of a festival of music taking place at the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC). Tickets are QR50 and can be bought online from the QPO.

QCC Conductor Giovanni Pasini, who is also principal viola at the QPO, said:

“We’re thrilled to be singing with QPO. It sets the bar higher for us and this show gives us the chance to sing great music by modern composers that’s loved by millions around the world.”

Earlier the same day, the choir will team up with the Doha Baroque Ensemble in Music For the Tempest, also at the QNCC.

Together, the groups will perform music written by different composers for William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest. Tickets are QR50 and can bought via QPO’s website.

Wider repertoire

QCC used to be known as the Doha Bach Choir.

But it changed its name to reflect the wide repertoire of musical styles its singers perform, Pasini said. He added:

“We’re ambitious about where we want to perform, our range of music and the audiences we want to reach. We’re a choir, we’re in Qatar and we give concerts of all kinds, so the new name says exactly what’s in the tin.”

Pasini, who has played with QPO since he arrived in Qatar nearly three years ago and conducted the QCC choir for most of that time, said he was “very proud” of the new partnership with the orchestra.

One of the highlights of the QCC’s December schedule will be the return of its rendition of Handel’s seasonal choral work Messiah, following a successful event last year.

Qatar Concert Choir


Qatar Concert Choir

There will be two performances of this – at Doha English Speaking School (DESS) on Nov. 29, and the following day at the Anglican Center in the religious complex.

Tickets cost QR100 and are available through Q-tickets.

The choir meets weekly during most of the year, although rehearsal schedules get much busier in the run-up to concerts.

Potential new members audition to join, and existing members are also required to re-audition for their place each year, “just to make sure we’re still up to scratch,” tenor singer Andrew Whitman told Doha News.

Whitman, an Al Jazeera English producer who has been with the choir for the past 18 months, added:

“It’s been amazing. Most of us come to Doha to work but if all we do is work and no play, it can be a difficult existence.

It’s added another dimension to my life and its taken my singing to a completely different level.”

Season finale

Another of Qatar’s choirs, Doha Singers, is also about to embark on its line-up of three seasonal concerts.

One of its biggest events will be Under the Mistletoe, which the choir will perform alongside the Doha Community Orchestra, Doha Community Wind Symphony and the Doha Youth & Junior Choir.

Around 250 singers and musicians will take part in what has become a popular annual event, which will be held this year on Dec. 10.

The Doha Singers

The Doha Singers/Facebook

The Doha Singers

There will be two concerts – a matinée and an evening performance, and tickets are QR75 or QR60 if bought before Nov. 30 from Q-Tickets or a choir member. The venue of the event cannot be publicly announced for security reasons.

Two days prior, the choir will also perform festive songs during A Cold December Night at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.

John Warren, chairman of the Doha Singers, described it as a “truly unique experience combining festive music with the relaxation of the beach and refreshments throughout.”

Tickets cost QR100 for the Dec. 8 event and can be bought from the hotel’s reception area.

Finally, a select group of around 18 singers will perform the free, public event A Capella on Dec. 2 by 51 East in Lagoona.

Meanwhile, the QPO has a number of other events on the calendar for next month.

For illustrative purposes only

Qatar Philharmonic / Facebook

For illustrative purposes only

One of the highlights’s of their season finale will be Classics from Film and Opera.

Some of the best-known themes from film and opera will be performed at the QNCC on Dec. 9, including music from Independence Day, The Godfather, Indiana Jones, Superman and The Magnificent Seven.

Tickets can be bought from the orchestra’s website and cost QR100.

Do you plan to attend any of the events? Thoughts?

The Suzhou Ballet's production of The Nutcracker


The Suzhou Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker

One of the most beloved of all ballets – Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker – will be staged at the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC) next month.

Accompanied by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra (QPO), China’s Suzhou Ballet will perform their version of the perennial favorite from Nov. 11-13.

Tickets are already selling fast for the ballet, Bruce Robinson, Head of Communications at the QPO, told Doha News.

“We’ve already sold more tickets for this performance than anything in the last five years (and probably our history),” he said.

The ballet is based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. And the plot involves a toy Nutcracker that comes alive on Christmas Eve, defeating an evil Mouse King.

A shortened version of the Nutcracker was performed in Qatar at Katara Cultural Village in 2013, and a acrobatic version a year later.

However, this is the first time it has been performed with full staging and orchestral accompaniment in the country.

Record ticket sales

Despite the fact that its 1892 premiere in Russia did not go well, the ballet now sells out theaters worldwide, particularly in the run-up to Christmas.

The Suzhou Ballet's production of The Nutcracker


The Suzhou Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker

Tickets are on sale via the QPO’s website, and cost between QR43 and QR1,000 per person.

The Suzhou ballet’s visit to Doha is part of the Qatar-China 2016 Year of Culture, which has also featured a variety of exhibitions, including a visit from some of China’s famous terracotta warriors.

Do you plan to go? Thoughts?

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.