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Thursday, October 21, 2021

UAE closes orchestra as robustly funded Qatar Philharmonic celebrates fourth birthday


The director of the UAE Philharmonic, Philip Maier, has announced that the UAE’s only resident orchestra is closing down with immediate effect after seven years of work.

The orchestra, which received no government funding, was unable to pay its musicians and relied on volunteers. 

In a statement on the orchestra’s website, Maier vents his frustration about the music scene in the UAE:

“The classical music scene in the UAE is, to be frank, a complete disaster. Apart from the UAEPO there is not one single professional approach to grow a locally based orchestra or even promote classical music properly.. There is no sincerity or even interest of any officials to make a serious and professional classical music life a reality.

The problem in the UAE is not the audience… The problem is the funding and the utter lack of understanding that an orchestra like the UAEPO needs a proper financial structure and support.”

In contrast, the Qatar Philharmonic – which celebrates its fourth birthday this year – is fully funded by Qatar Foundation. It has 101 professional musicians, recruited from auditions held around the world, and performs regularly at the Katara Opera House. 

It’s one of only two full professional orchestras left in the Gulf – the other being the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra. 

Kurt Meister, Executive Director of the Qatar Philharmonic, told Doha News that they are grateful to be fully supported by the Qatari government.

“We hear the news of the closure of the UAEPO with sadness. Our mission differs from other orchestras in that we perform and promote both western and Arabic music to build a bridge between cultures. Doing this at the highest musical level indeed takes substantial resources. We’re privileged to be a member of the Qatar Foundation as it supports Qatar’s path from carbon economy to knowledge economy.”

What do you think about the classical music scene in the region?

Credit: Photo by land_camera

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