Wednesday, 23 November 2011 – DOHA

this morning the ECO Close Encounters outreach ensemble together with young musicians fromQatar Music Academywith whom we have been working during the last three days, took to the stage and gave two stunning children’s concerts.  In the first the audience was from Doha English Speaking School, in the second, Compass International School. 

 The programme began with Paul’s arrangements of the Rondo from Abdelazer; a combination of tutti and instrument groups with an introduction on side drum and tablas gave all the young instrumentalists a chance to shine – and shine they did.  There was also an exquisite C section played beautifully by Ud player- Bayan Reda and Nay payer- Yassine Ayari, with Neyire on clarinet and accompanied, in the repeat, by gentle ECO strings;  the effect of West and East was magical – like this visit toDoha.  Paul directed from his bass and the ECO ensemble played in the sections.  

Miranda and Matt did more than just play; they executed a great dance in the Finale, which the children loved, they also roped Ellie in and the three of them did a fine Can Can to demonstrate Saint Saens’ tongue in cheek use of this theme in his Tortue.  This was well received J by audience and hugely appreciated by me.  Neyire delighted as the cuckoo, darting from corner to corner of the theatre with a beautiful naughty expression on her face and in her playing. 

Matt (of dancing and Can Can fame) came to rescue like a knight in shining armour, to solve a technical hitch with the slide slow and made my day thereby.  Thank you, thank you. Ben Gould shone as projectionist and kept the slideshow flowing flawlessly, this was after kindly tuning all the children’s fiddles.  Ben, the Dark Silhouette, has now revealed that he is a violist.  Next project Harold in Italy featuring none other than. . .  

The orchestra came back to the hotel to have a quick swim, many of them, some lunch and then headed off for a rehearsal for this evenings’ final performance in a public concert at the Katara Opera House.  Last night we were proud to perform to HRH Prince Andrew, younger brother of the English Chamber Orchestra’s patron, as well as to members of the Qatari Royal Family and guests invited by the generous sponsors of this tour, Shell.   

Tonight’s concert will be the last and the orchestra goes from the concert platform straight toDohaAirportto catch a night flight back toLondonwhere many musicians have engagements on Thursday.   

We will all carry fond memories of this first ECO tour toDoha and we will hope this might become a regular feature of our calendar.   

This will be the last blog from Doha from the Ice Queen, who will be melting and re-freezing into various other shapes back in the UK– but always returning, I think, when there is action in the English Chamber Orchestra’s Close Encounters education and outreach programme.

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