Qatari composer Dana Al Fardan

The New Arab Meets: Qatari composer Dana Al Fardan, who has earned and cemented her place in the long line of cross-border artists who have made a name for themselves in the musical repertoire of the MENA region.

Born and raised in Doha, Qatar, Dana Al-Fardan is a self-taught artist.

She said The new Arabic that her childhood was simple in the 90s, a simplicity that made the connection with what mattered to her.

“There were no distractions or deviations from the one space that moved my whole being and characterized my relationship with the world: music,” she begins.

“My first memories revolved around two main places: the tennis club and our local CD and DVD store. Both places gave birth to my personal development with music. I used to play tennis at the federation almost daily after spending at least two of the hours on the grand piano in the club lobby, it was my regular pastime after school.

“Music is the lens through which I see the world. It’s the extra boost of energy when I’m exhausted, it’s transcendental strength when I’m feeling confined, and it’s magic when I want to m ‘get away. It’s beauty in everything I see around me’

Dana strikes a nostalgic chord reminding us of the days when we actively and consciously listened to music as an activity in its own right instead of adding music to the background of other activities, for her the CD store was the pillar around which everything revolved on weekends.

“Do you remember when people actually listened to albums? It wasn’t just something playing in the background while we were doing other things; listening to albums is what I used to do; it was the activity,” she said.

Music is the lens through which I see the world

Dana’s melodic signature is bounded by a complex and delicate blend of traditional and Western music, a blend that transcendentally dissolves all boundaries.

Each composition has a malleable sound sensation that is interpreted and shaped by each listener. Constantly reinvented through appreciation and immersion in a musical trance.

Dana Al Fardan in motion [photo credit: Jiliane Meriouch]

Dana spoke openly to The new Arabic on his intimate relationship with music. She evokes music as a lifeline and an essential companion to precious “moments of being”, to use Virginia Wolfe’s term.

Music is the lens through which I see the world. It’s the extra boost of energy when I’m exhausted, it’s the transcendental strength when I feel confined, and it’s the magic when I want to escape,” Dana explains.

“That’s the beauty of everything I see around me. That’s the spirit that my daughter solidified in me when I was pregnant with her. That’s when I realized that this passion wasn’t just a hobby, it was my true path”, and it was going to be the language of love between my daughter and me. It was my journey to myself, and it is the me that I want my daughter to get to know”, added the artist with emotion.

When we asked Dana about the influence she might have received from Arab composers, the answer did not fail to pay tribute to one of the greatest composers in the Arab world.

“Abdul Wahab is a composer who wrote many popular songs Um Kolthum music. He was often criticized for being too Western in his composition or for borrowing Western ines or melodies, but in reality what he did was create a fusion that would leave a lasting resonance far beyond. beyond his time. parts like 1001 nights are performed around the world and have received international recognition from Western and Arab listeners.

Dana has climbed many high mountains and even burst into uncharted territory of success.

If you’ve flown to or from Qatar on Qatar Airways, you’ve probably listened to its music during the flight. His finely soothing, yet fiercely expressive music of imperturbable tranquility is the gateway to Qatar.

The artist commented on this collaboration: “Qatar Airways represents a banner of growth and endless possibilities. It is one of the fastest growing airlines in the world and as such it was an incredibly inspiring project to write about. The music is literally meant to capture flight, elevation, dreams and magic. These are all the ingredients with which any composer would like to write. Qatar Airways has always held the arts in high regard and has always sponsored and supported local initiatives to push the performing arts to greater heights, so I was very grateful to have had this opportunity to present my work to two million passengers per month.

The music that dissolves borders

The artist spoke enthusiastically about his passion for local Qatari folk music and showcased the versatility of the multiple disciplines in this field.

His future projects will be a fusion between traditional Qatari singing, especially in the pearl fishing tradition of “Fiji” (music of the sea) with more universal/current sounds. Dana would make local music accessible to a wider audience.

The artist is no stranger to bringing Arab cultural heritage to Western audiences. The artist brought together east and west in a spectacular musical about the life of Jalal Eddine Rumi, which premiered in London.

She also had a successful adaptation of Jibran Khalil Jibran broken wingswhich was also in theaters in London.

broken wings was my first exercise in introducing this prolific figure of Arab descent to a West End audience,” she says. The New Arab. “It became my general mandate in my musical career; promote the rich art forms and literature derived from Arab heritage. Particularly figures of exceptional universal appeal like Gibran Khalil Gibran and Rumi. Although Gibran is widely known for his book The Prophet, little is known about the man. And that’s where we came across his book Bwings spread. In this novel, we understand all the elements that shape his thoughts and views in The Prophet and almost provide him with an origin story.

Indigo by Dana Al Fardan

Dana’s new show is a live performance featuring a chamber orchestra and a lighting designer projecting organized colored lights to transform the setting.

The artist spoke with The new Arabic about his vision for this project: “The idea is to raise your vibrational frequencies, so that each of the 12 traces has its own color palette and mood, and the live show will be a multi-sensory experience with a light show, performed by six musicians.

“All songs will have a corresponding video. These videos are conceptually and abstractly designed to allow the listener and viewing space to interpret and own this journey. I chose Indigo because of color and what that term stands for.” The human eye is relatively insensitive to Indigo frequencies. This is because Indigo resides in a space outside of your peripheral vision. It is commonly believed to be the color of wisdom and represents an understanding of your higher self.”

Indigo’s anguished, yet spirited eloquence will send listeners on an imaginative journey to lands of illicit romance and indomitable excitement, a sheer delight.

The artist hopes that audiences will come away with a greater sense of connectedness within themselves and develop more meaningful relationships in their surroundings after listening to his compositions.

To finish, The new Arabic wanted to know what makes an artist proud who has become the first Qatari woman to perform in English. The artist replied candidly, “I take great pride in persevering when challenges arise. It’s not easy being the first woman to do what I do, so I had to cultivate space and infrastructure as I went.

“I could have given up many times when it seemed impossible, and I still face seemingly impossible challenges, but most of all I’m proud of my propensity to never give up. It was never an option and never will be. never.”

Ouissal Harize is a UK-based freelance researcher, cultural essayist and journalist.

Follow her on Twitter: @OuissalHarize

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