The Doha Community Orchestra returns this month with their annual auditions! So blow the horn and sound the drum, we find out all about what they are from Orchestra Manager Tim Craxton.
So what is it?
The Doha Community Orchestra is a full size symphony orchestra made up of amateur musicians with members either working or studying in Qatar. In recent years we have expanded to include a wind symphony to cater for the large number of wind musicians here. We rehearse once a week and perform regularly throughout the year. It is an opportunity for musicians to come together and enjoy playing music in a group.
How did it get started?
The Doha Community Orchestra (DCO) was founded in October 2005. At that time lessons were available on some instruments in Doha, but there was no opportunity for players to get together in an ensemble. Two music teachers decided to see if the gap could be filled. The vision was to build a full symphony orchestra for the whole community, adults and children, and they started by recruiting string players. The first rehearsal had 10 young violin and cello players and gradually more and more joined, including wind players six months later.
It’s a lot bigger now though, right?
After seven years, the DCO is almost unrecognizable from the modest starting ensemble. The vision of the founding members has long been achieved and surpassed. The community in Doha is transient, and a number of DCO’s members leave every year. However the existence of the ensemble is a permanent feature in the community life of Doha.
Why have a community orchestra?
DCO gives musicians of all ages the chance to play together and perform for friends, family and the local community. Doha is such a multicultural city and DCO helps to bring people with a common interest together and helps build new friendships whilst away from home.
Who plays in it?
All nationalities and ages. We are very diverse – for example, we have a music teacher who plays percussion, an oil engineer who plays bassoon, a 12 year old Turkish student who plays violin, and a 16 year old student from USA who plays trumpet!
Do people have to be professional quality to join? How much experience is needed?
We have members of all different abilities, but we do ask for a minimum standard of around UK Grade 5 or equivalent – but you do not need to have taken any music exams! The benefit for members is that they often play sitting next to someone who has been playing for longer than they have and this helps them improve also.
So the big question: what sort of stuff do you play?
We generally perform three major concerts a year. Last year was our busiest year so far, with an additional performance at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival which we hope to repeat again this season. We play a mixture of traditional Classical music and more modern arrangements for orchestra. Our December concert last year featured the music of the famous children’s story The Snowman and we had A Night at the Oscars in May with a programme of film music. There are always lots of good tunes so come along and enjoy yourself – either as a player or a member of the audience!
You’re having auditions this month—what’s involved? How should people prepare?
It doesn’t matter when you arrive in Doha – our doors are always open, but our main auditions are in September. We ask musicians to bring along a piece of music that they have been playing which gives us a chance to hear you playing something that you are comfortable with. Sometimes we will ask musicians to play a simple piece of music that they have not seen before so that we can be sure they are of a standard to be able to enjoy themselves. The audition is not something to worry about – we just want to hear you play!
Auditions are Sept 15. To sign up, and get the time and location of your audition, register by calling 3361 4793 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Can’t make Sept 15? Interested musicians are still encouraged to contact the orchestra to set up alternative times! For more information on their upcoming performances, visit www.dohaorchestra.com