Sunday, 20 November 2011 – DOHA

I have woken up to brilliant sunshine and a view from my room of the cloudy blue green water of the West Bay Lagoon.  The hotel is built in a style inspired by classical Arab architecture and the low sand coloured hotel terraces which reach to the water of the bay are hung with deep pink and brilliant orange bougainvillea and surrounded by dark evergreen bushes.  The Close Encounters team, Paul Sherman, Neyire Ashworth and I have a morning to enjoy these idyllic surrounds before we meet the children of the QatarMusicAcademy– we can’t wait to see them and get started with Abdelazer and lots of fun workshop activities.

Close Encounters, for anyone who doesn’t already know this, is the name which was chosen for the English Chamber Orchestra’s education and outreach programme in 2000, based on the premise that what we would be giving young people is a close encounter with music; hands on, involved, playing, contributing to decisions during a project, getting to know, understand and enjoy music.  The name has been a reflection of the work we still carry out in the UK and around the world.

The Chinese proverb Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll understand, is the motto of ECO Close Encounters and has been proven over and over again to be a true maxim.

I hope Close Encounters’ first visit to Doha, capital of Qatar will be the beginning of a flourishing collaboration into the future.  And on a more personal note – I think it’s time for breakfast.  The rest of the English Chamber Orchestra will now be safely en route and will join us this evening at the hotel.  On an even more personal note – I grew up for the first seventeen years of my life in Qatar and I’m overwhelmed to be back.  Doha is unrecognisable but beautiful; the smell of the sea and the warmth, and the sense of the nearby desert still strike a chord deep inside me.

I’ll be back –  Marilyn Groves, Education and Outreach Manager, better known on face book as the Antarctic Ice Queen for reasons which have nothing to do with the English Chamber Orchestra and everything to do with the two administrators’ current profile pictures.

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