You’ve got a packed programme this month, including a piece by a local composer. What are you doing exactly?
We’re doing the fourth movement of the Doha Secret Symphony (as well as A Khachaturian’s violin concerto – flute version and Franck’s Symphony in D Minor at our first performance). The last movement is a special measure for the Emir, it’s a special part of the story, so we’re doing it for the National Day of Qatar. It was composed last year (by H Namma). We played the whole composition; it was commissioned for the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra.
How does Doha Secrets Symphony stack up against international compositions?
Mr Naama is a student of Arabic music, and he started to slowly, slowly orchestrate his work. In any country you have many schools of composers. Different schools have first generation, second generation, very modern and very advanced schools. As Qatar is starting now, just beginning, it’s a very romantic way of composing. It’s very easy for the audience to listen to. It’s good for the Qatar audiences to hear, it’s a good start. Right now there’s only really Mr Naama. I hope with time we can one day have more composers. We didn’t have this mentality before – it’s something completely different for Qatar.
How do you choose what pieces the orchestra will perform?
I was a bassoon player for nearly 15 years in Egypt and Switzerland. I also sang at the opera house for 10 years. In Arabic countries, to choose a programme, it’s very special, not like in Europe. It’s completely different. We have an international orchestra, with musicians from all over the world. We have to choose for the good of the orchestra and the good of the audience. We have to put the masterpieces, we have to do Beethoven’s 9th, we have to do Brahms, Tchaikovsky, operas. We have to go through all that because we have a young orchestra – maybe they haven’t had the chance to play these for years and years because they are so young. We do something that gives the musicians pleasure to play. As well, we have to do the Arabic composers no-one knows about. We are hungry to find this new generation of composers.
You’ve recently moved into your new permanent venue, in the Cultural Village, including performance spaces. What’s that like?
We are very lucky. In the Cultural Village, we have the Opera House. Any orchestra, in any country anywhere in the world, the most prestigious place is the concert house. It’s pride, showing the culture. Now the public will be able to see us always in the same place, they can buy tickets in advance, we can also work to improving the sound in the venue. It’s like our home. We can slowly, slowly start to fill it up with our furniture. Part of our identity will be the concert hall in Cultural Village. Plus, all around us will be the art galleries and the museums of the Cultural Village. It will be a great place to show our culture.
Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra perform their first concert, A Touch of France, on November 6 at 7.30pm at Aspire Zone, Ladies Club. The second, The World of French Music, will be on November 13 at 7.30pm at Aspire Zone, Ladies Club. Tickets from Virgin Megastore, QR50-200.