It was a befitting start for Qatar-France 2020 Year of Culture as classical French music, curative piano sounds in particular, spellbound a large audience at Katara Opera House, where Qatari dignitaries, ambassadors, diplomats were in attendance with their families.
The opening event of the cultural year set the tone for the year-long activities that include exhibitions of art works by legends including Pablo Picasso, classic French movies, music performances, and French food festivals.
The ‘Opening Concert of Qatar-France 2020 Year of Culture,’ presented by Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra (QPO), was aptly conducted by Marc Piollet, one of the most exciting and versatile conductors of his generation. Iconic French pianist Lise De La Salle mesmerised the lovers of orchestral music as she duly earned the appreciation and applause from the huge gathering.
The programme included Camille Saint-Saëns’s composition Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22 –  Andante sostenuto Allegro scherzando Presto.
The work of Haamed Hussein Naama from Doha Secrets Symphony that was played at the concert included Fourth Movement. Hector Berlioz’s Symphony Fantastique, Op. 14 R’veries, Passions A Ball Scene in the Country March to the Scaffold Dreams of a Witches’ Sabbath.
The QPO musicians and the guest artistes entertained the audience that also included many musicians and classical music lovers for over two hours. A conspicuous among them was Klaus Heymann, Chairman of Naxos Group of Companies, that focuses on western classical music based in Hong Kong. He also runs Naxos Music Library, invaluable resource for universities, music schools, public libraries, schools, music professionals and collectors.
Community got a chance in the break time to speak to Klaus, a German national, as Qatar National Library also has subscription to his music collection. “As a company, we focus on the western classical music. We have branches all over the world – all major music markets. We are well known all over the world holding a very good reputation. The Naxos Libel was started in 1987 and the music library was set up in 2002. We are actually the first company in the world to have had the streaming website in 1996.”
Klaus, who grew up with western classical music, not listening to anything else, got married to a classical musician. “Our library is the first subscription streaming website in the history of our industry. The music library covers everything from early music to classical, romantic, contemporary and 20th century. We have the works of composers from all over the world even from Brazil and Australia. We have orchestra, symphony, chamber music, and solo. We have everything.”
In response to a question on how the western classical music is trending, the music collector said, “Well, sales of certain products have declined. We are not selling as many CDs as we sold five years ago. It is however a fact that streaming is now a worldwide phenomenon. We have lot more listeners now from far more different countries. The Internet platforms have much bigger reach.”
Talking about live concerts for classical music, he said, “Previously, if you would’ve wanted to listen to good music you would have to go to a concert. Nowadays, you can listen online. The orchestras nowadays have to offer more than just playing a concert. They need to go for introductions, they have talk to the audience and they have to make videos also. It has become a lot more challenging to attract audience.
“As far as Qatar in concerned, there is only one orchestra, if you have to listen to the western classical music alive; you have to come to QPO. That is where the orchestra has a privileged position. We at the same time see a rise in live opera concerts. We see opera house in different Middle Eastern countries and in Africa.”
As far the classical music itself, Klaus is upbeat about the future of the genre. “We see new composer coming up with new kind of compositions. We see composers even in countries like Qatar. The whole thing has become far more universal.”
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