QF member Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra has taken center stage at a New York celebration of UN Day
Gender equality, human resilience, economic growth are topics frequently discussed at the United Nations General Assembly. Now, for the first time, its General Assembly Hall has heard these themes be expressed through the music of Qatari composers and musicians.
Composer Dana Al Fardan, singers Fahad Al Kubaisi, Aisha, and Mansour Al Mohannadi, and pianist Hala Al-Emadi took center stage at the General Assembly in New York for the 2019 UN Day Concert; accompanied by Qatar Foundation’s Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra.
The UN Day, marked on October 24, is the anniversary of the Charter of the United Nations, celebrating its achievements and galvanizing member states’ continuing support for its work. This year’s theme of ‘Building Prosperity for All through Culture, Education, Gender Equality, Sports and Sustainability’ reflected on some of the key areas of improvement that the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals focus on.
The 2019 UN Day was organized by the Permanent Mission of the State of Qatar to the UN in collaboration with the Department of Global Communications. As well as musicians from Qatar, it was attended by His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and other dignitaries, as well as representatives from Doha Film Institute.
His Excellency Mr. António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, spoke of the need to implement the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals within the next decade, saying: “Gender equality is an important goal in itself, but it is also a catalyst to achieve all these goals.
The meaningful participation of women makes peace agreements stronger and development programs more effective.
The hall also broke into applause when His Excellency Mr. Guterres described Al Fardan and Al-Emadi as “pioneers and role models”, before saying: “Let’s work together to realize our shared vision of peace, sustainable development, and human rights and dignity for all on a healthy planet.”
In a speech to the UN General Assembly audience, His Excellency Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, said: “Music inspires us, it comforts us, it educates us.
“A beautiful song or an uplifting score has the power to bring joy to people young or old wherever they may be in the world. People learn languages different from their own from listening to music. It is a window into cultures different from our own.
“Nations and cultures have their own unique relationship with music. It is often the centerpiece of families and friends gathering to celebrate a special occasion. It can be the pride that a certain instrument or song inspires within a culture. And it can be 80,000 people in a stadium passionately singing a national anthem in unison prior to a major sporting event. Music is inherently inclusive.”
His Excellency Mr. Al Thawadi also spoke of how the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™ will be “our chance to showcase our passion for football, our commitment to innovation, the hospitality of our people and, perhaps most important of all, to build bridges with the rest of the world in the most meaningful way possible: on a people-to-people level.”
The nine pieces performed during the concert, conducted by Eimear Noone, explored themes of love, dialogue, and culture, with Al Fardan – who composed eight of the works – saying her music is “a very particular blend that is inspired by my country, Qatar’s rich culture, and its unique position in the world”.
Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra is dedicated to promoting Western as well as Eastern music, and encouraging creativity among adults and children alike around the Arab world
“The themes that we touch on and explore are gender equality, community, cohesion, economic growth, dialogue, and human resilience,” she told the audience. “This program tonight is inspired by and dedicated to promoting dialogue through intercultural exchange, and I hope the variety you hear in the music reflects and demonstrates that we all speak the same language at our core, and we all have the same relationship with our hearts and our minds.
“Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra is dedicated to promoting Western as well as Eastern music, and encouraging creativity among adults and children alike around the Arab world. And, most importantly, it’s creating world music through a Qatari lens.”
And Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra also represents a blend as well of Eastern and Western music and musicians. As Giovanni Pasini, a viola player with the orchestra, said: “When we’re at rehearsal, it feels a bit like a United Nations meeting itself!”