Doha Community Orchestra

Musical directors Brita Fray and Jim Kulpa take us on a musical tour of the world

Doha Community Orchestra
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The Doha Community Orchestra returns this month! Featuring an international repertoire of selections from America, Australia, Cuba, Germany, Japan, Korea, Russia and Norway, Qatar’s amateur orchestra’s final performance of the season will take you around the world and back. Musical Directors Brita Fray and Jim Kulpa put down the baton and fill us in on what we’re going to hear.

What is the show?
Brita: This show is the culmination of the hard work of members from our Orchestra and Wind Symphony this season. It is the final concert of the year!

It’s called Music in our World - A Multicultural Celebration. What does that mean?
Jim: We have chosen music from different countries around the globe to showcase music of that culture, history, and background. Sometimes it may just be the nationality of a particular composer and other times it may be a popular song from that region. Our Orchestra and Wind Ensemble will be performing for this concert.

Brita: Since our organisation consists of individuals from all around the world, we decided to celebrate these diverse cultures for the final concert of our season. Music is a universal language that unites us all, regardless of nationality or culture.

What’s your favourite piece? What should we be listening for?
Brita: Each piece is unique, just like our membership. If you close your eyes and listen carefully, you are transported to different countries around the world. The Orchestra is bringing in a special guest singer, Patricia Sands, to perform an Italian art song. Also, watch for some sizzling brass solos in Danzas Cubanas! One of our favorites is Variations On a Korean Folk Song. The blend of instruments will create a beautiful aural landscape in the ears of the listener.

Jim: The Wind Symphony is featuring programmatic Japanese music with sections representing the Genroku Flower, Cherry Blossoms and Yagi Bushi, traditional folksong of Gunma, Japan. The low brass section of the Wind Symphony will also perform one of Reinhold Gliere’s most popular musical themes in Russian Sailor’s Dance.

How did you pick the pieces to be performed?
Brita: We consider repertoire that represents major works within our medium, and choose pieces that highlight the strengths of our ensembles, while at the same time create a fun challenge for our musicians.

Jim: It is also our intention to choose music that would expose our members and audience to tonalities and textures that they may not otherwise encounter.

Let’s back up a second: what exactly is the Doha Community Orchestra?
Jim: The Doha Community Orchestra (DCO) is a full size symphony orchestra made up of amateur musicians living in Qatar. In recent years our organization has expanded to include a Wind Symphony that caters to the large number of brass and woodwind players in Doha. All of our members either work or study during the day, and make the commitment to rehearse once a week.

Brita: Each ensemble rehearses once a week and performs regularly throughout the year. It is an opportunity for musicians to come together purely for the enjoyment of music making. The DCO is different from other professional orchestras. While professional orchestral musicians play music for their job, DCO musicians play as their hobby, for the love of music!

How does it compare to other community orchestras around the globe?
Brita: It is not uncommon to find community orchestras in other parts of the world. Usually, community orchestras pop up in cities where there is already a professional orchestra in place, and the appreciation for classical music is strong. However, the DCO is unique since it was first established in Doha before the professional Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra was initiated. We love that about ourselves!

Wow! What sort of reception have you received?
Brita: We are fortunate to have a core group of devoted fans that come out and support us at each concert. We are always looking for ways to expand our fan base, too!

Jim: We enjoy performing for the large expatriate community located here in Doha, Qatar. We aim to offer a taste of music that reminds them of regional musical ensembles form their own home town.

What’s your favourite part of performing?
Jim: Sharing the hard work and beautiful music of our amateur musicians with the community here in Qatar. I also hope to inspire a few people to “pick-up that instrument” they put away from their school days and play again.

Brita: My favorite part of performing is the magical and almost transcendent feeling that happens when everyone is playing, breathing, and feeling the music together.
The Doha Community Orchestra takes the stage with their final concert of the season, Music in Our World- A Multicultural Celebration on May 25. Tickets are QR50. For information, including time and location or to reserve tickets, email or call 3385 7784.

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