The new Qatar Philharmonic will perform at the Washington, D.C., Kennedy Center on February 24, 2009. They will perform in Arabesque, a 3-week series involving ensembles and performers from 22 Arab nations. The Qatar Philharmonic will perform Marcel Khalife's "Arabian Concerto" and Beethoven's 5th Symphony; the juxtaposition of these two pieces may be a subtle, or not so-subtle, statement of the importance of Arab world music and Khalife's prominence as a contemporary Arab musician.
The Qatar Foundation and Education City community are planning a send-off concert in conjunction with the U.S.-Islamic World Forum, a conference held in Doha just before the departure of the Philharmonic for its U.S. debut. The performance will be a statement of the importance of cultural diplomacy, an idea advocated by former Ambassador and current faculty member at Georgetown University, Dr. Cynthia Schneider.
The importance of Arabesque and the Qatar Philharmonic's role in fostering western and Arab world cultural interaction should not be underestimated. Both are akin to the 2008 North Korean tour of the New York Philharmonic where the boundaries and bonds of political isolation were bridged through sharing music of western and eastern culture. Who knows where the Qatar Philharmonic will go... Buy your tickets and make your plans.