Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra (QPO) has not only been quenching the thirst of residents for classical western music but has also been offering a stage to talented musicians to display their skills in instrumental music.

The orchestra and its gifted musicians have continuously been bringing laurels for Qatar.

The recent example is ‘German Record Critics’ Award’ won by one of QPO members – Maias Alyamani, violinist, composer and producer. The album – Babylon Orchestra – recorded and produced by Maias along with Babylon Orchestra, a jazz band, has received the award from the critics.

Music critics and journalists from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland regularly come together to honour outstanding music and spoken word productions. Made up of a maximum of 160 jurors, the award (also called Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik –PdSK)) places great importance on reaching independent judgments, unaffected by the interests of recording or audiobook producers.

Maias Alyamani, a Doha-based Syrian musician, is considered one of the foremost Arab artistes today. He has performed as soloist and improviser all over the world with leading musicians. Talking to Gulf Times, the violinist recently spoke about his work and the recognition.

Born and brought up in Damascus, Maias comes from a music family as both his parents were connected with music. “My parents always encouraged me towards music. I started learning violin when I was only six years old. At the age of 20, I went to Europe to further my studies about western classical music. I spent time in Germany, Italy, and Austria. I got my degree in Solo Performance from Vienna.”

In 2006, Maias established a flexible music group ‘MAqam Ensemble’ in Vienna, specialising in classical Arabic music. Since its inception, the ensemble has enjoyed tremendous success in Europe and the Middle East. “I do Arabic music fusions with classical and Jazz. I have also curated Arabic Nights at Jazz at Lincoln Centre Doha in 2014–15 presenting Arabic music fusions to new audiences. I have worked with Dana Alfardan and other Qatari musicians. In collaboration with Dana, I produced onboard Qatar Airways music and Lusail stadium launching music. I have been receiving high-profile commissions to compose music. I have also done music for the Arab Olympic Games Opening in Doha and many others.”

About the album that won him the award, the Syrian violinist said: “About four years ago, I started working with a Jazz band – Babylon Orchestra. They commissioned me to compose two pieces. They were discovering Arabic and oriental music fusion with Jazz. It went very well with them. Last summer, I recorded the album Babylon Orchestra together with them. One fine day, I got the news that the album has won the award.”

The musician is very happy to receive the recognition earning good name both for Qatar and QPO. “I am very happy that my work has got the recognition from the critics. I am satisfied that I have done something better. I, however, feel the real prize comes when the people appreciate your work.”

Maias believes classical music is mother of all music. “Every developed country has orchestra that is a sign of developed society. For me classical music is not connected to a particular nation. It belongs to everyone. Arab composers of classical music are also there. The classical music is getting very popular in Qatar. Most of the video games have classical music composed by orchestras.”

The violinist is all praise for quality of classical music in Qatar. “QPO is one of the finest orchestras in the world. The music quality is very high. The orchestra and Qatar opened their arms for me and other talented musicians. I have always received every support from QPO.”

Regarding his routine during the Covid-19 lockdown, Maias said that he started a social media channel on YouTube. “I started speaking about classical, Arabic and jazz music in Arabic language. The platform became very successful in six months. Hundreds of thousands have started following my channel and millions others have viewed it.”