In the presence of HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, chairperson of Qatar Museums, the Qatar-USA 2021 Year of Culture was officially inaugurated at Katara - the Cultural Village Opera House on Friday with a special concert by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra (QPO) and US Air Forces Central Band (Afcent Band).
The event was hosted by Qatar Museums and the US embassy.
Introducing Friday evening’s concert were HE Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali, Minister of Culture and Sports; Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad al-Thani, ambassador of Qatar to the United States; and ambassador Greta C Holtz, chargé d’affaires, US embassy in Qatar.
Snapshots from the official launch of the Qatar-USA 2021 Year of Culture
The concert marked the beginning of a year of specially curated exhibitions, festivals, bilateral exchanges and events to be held in both nations, QM said in a statement Saturday.
"The Qatar-USA 2021 Year of Culture is intended to enhance cultural and artistic exchange and exemplifies the renewed commitment of the two nations to foster mutual understanding and promote intercultural dialogue," the statement notes.
The launch follows the signing of a co-operative agreement on September 14, 2020, between Qatar and the US during the 2020 Qatar-United States Strategic Dialogue in Washington, DC.
The Year of Culture programme was launched in 2012 with Qatar-Japan 2012, followed by Qatar-UK 2013, Qatar-Brazil 2014, Qatar-Turkey 2015, Qatar-China 2016, Qatar-Germany 2017, Qatar-Russia 2018, Qatar-India 2019 and Qatar-France 2020.
Commenting on the concert, HE Sheikha Al Mayassa said: “Music truly is a universal language, speaking directly to the heart, as we learned once again through this stirring inaugural concert for the Qatar-USA 2021 Year of Culture. With the warm collaboration of our embassy in Washington, DC, under the leadership of HE Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad al-Thani and with the partnership of our colleagues and friends in the United States, whose distinguished ambassador Greta C Holtz honoured us with her presence at the concert, we expect this Year of Culture to deepen the understanding between the people of our two nations, expressing our shared humanity and strengthening the already substantial ties between Qatar and the United States.”
Ambassador Holtz said: “The Year of Culture programme provides an extraordinary framework within which our two nations can come together to celebrate our longstanding relationship and forge new connections through people-to-people exchanges. Nothing could better symbolise the Year of Culture’s spirit of harmony than this musical collaboration between the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra and the US Air Forces Central Band.”
HE al-Ali said: "It is important to nurture arts and culture as they play a key role in uplifting the values of human dignity based on freedom, justice and the acceptance of others regardless of their colour, religion and ethnicity. Arts and culture assist in the continuous discovery and promotion of knowledge and, alongside religion and social values, can be used as effective tools to instil morality."
Commenting on the opening, Aisha Ghanem al-Attiya, head of Year of Culture, noted: “These beautiful performances by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra and US Air Forces Central Band have given us our first experience of the rich and extensive slate of programmes, exhibitions and events planned over the next 12 months, as our platform for new dialogues and bilateral exchanges.”
“I am pleased to join our partner Qatar Museums today at the official launch of Qatar-USA Year of Culture 2021, and to announce ExxonMobil Qatar as its platinum sponsor,” said Dominic Genetti, president and general manager for ExxonMobil Qatar.
“As a US company and an active participant in the local community for over three decades, Qatar-USA Year of Culture 2021 is particularly important to us. It emphasises the strong partnership between our people and our two countries that has extended beyond economics and grown into a true friendship and community,” he added.
The concert was led by Joo Young Oh, the recently appointed concertmaster of the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, who performs internationally as a violin soloist and member of the New York Philharmonic. The programme, which began with the national anthems of both countries, featured a variety of Qatari and American compositions, including 'Rising and Spirit of Thunder' (Dana Alfardan), 'Take Me Home, Country Road' (John Denver), 'Fanfare for the Common Man' (Aaron Copland), 'Lullaby' and 'Porgy and Bess Suite' (George Gershwin), 'My Heart Will Go On' from the film 'Titanic' (James Horner), 'Al – Haneen' (Nasser Sahim Nasseb), 'Adagio for Strings' (Samuel Barber), and 'Tonight' from the musical 'West Side Story' (Leonard Bernstein).