Cultural village amphitheatre opens with inspiring concert
December 13 2011 12:00 AM

A concert during the opening of the amphitheatre
By Peter Townson/Staff Reporter

The skies over Katara were filled with dramatic lights and the inspiring sounds of Vangelis on Sunday night, as the eagerly awaited opening of the cultural village’s amphitheatre took place in front of an audience of VIPs and invited guests.
The concert, organised as part of the 4th UN Alliance of Civilisations forum concluding in Doha today, featured a number of original pieces written specially for the occasion by the Greek Oscar winning composer, Vangelis.
HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, was joined by a host of international ministers and other dignitaries to celebrate the opening of the amphitheatre.
Vangelis was by no means the only Academy award winner involved in the evening, as British actor Jeremy Irons performed the role of master of ceremonies for the occasion.
Irons set the tone for an evening of class and talent, which saw musicians and artists from all over the world come together to create a memorable occasion and a milestone for the cultural development of Qatar.
Sporting an all-black outfit in the style of one of his latest characters, Rodrigo Borgia, Irons consistently referred to the overall message of the evening; that through art and music, people from all over the world can come together and recognise their common humanity.
After congratulating the audience on being the first to experience the amphitheatre, the actor declared: “You called, we came – now let us deliver our message of hope.”
The opening of the concert saw musicians from all over the world take turns to perform on traditional instruments from Japan, native America, India, Australia, Qatar and elsewhere, alongside musicians from the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra (QPO).
Following a traditional Qatari singing and dancing performance, Vangelis’ specially composed choral symphony, entitled simply ‘Hope,’ got underway.
The symphony was performed by the composer himself, along with the QPO, the Yurlov Russian State Academic Choir and the wonderful Angela Gheorghiu, whose magical voice certainly proved a highlight of the evening.
The soprano was then joined on stage by her husband, the tenor Roberto Alagna, and the pair sang an aria, also composed by Vangelis for the evening.
The night created an awe-inspiring atmosphere with the climax of the light show and the performance of what must be Vangelis’ most famous composition, Titles from the classic film, Chariots of Fire.
The sound of the orchestra combined with the incredible lighting combined to create a moment that will take some difficulty to surpass, no matter how often the new amphitheatre is put to use.
This was followed by the equally inspirational sounds of ‘1492: Conquest of Paradise,’ another of the Greek composer’s most well-known compositions and a fitting inclusion in the evening’s programme.
The concert then concluded with a performance of the orchestra and the Qatar Philharmonic children’s choir, who sang the piece, ‘Child of Hope,’ composed by Vangelis and brought to life by the lyrics of Sir Tim Rice.
The anthem was accompanied by fireworks and Gert Hof’s lighting show, and the numerous proud parents sounded their appreciation at the youngsters’ performance in the newly opened arena.
As Vangelis said in his programme notes: “I wish that this effort for peace and others like it, do not become a utopian dream.”
“I would like to thank the State of Qatar and Katara for giving me this opportunity to express in my own way this wish,” he added.
Although the cold weather may have put a number of audience members off, with many choosing to leave before the finale of the evening, the concert was surely one of the best to have been hosted during the young history of Katara.
The opportunity to enjoy the unique combination of Vangelis, the Yurlov Russian State Academic Choir, Alagna, Gheorghiu and local musicians and children was a once in a lifetime experience for those who attended and is hopefully a signal of the kind of exciting events which the public can expect to view at the amphitheatre in the near future.

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