Meet Dana Al Fardan, classical composer and founder of the first and only record label in Qatar, DNA records.
Earlier in September she performed her latest work ‘Sandstorm’ with the London Metropolitan Orchestra at The Theatre Royal Haymarket in London.. so I was intrigued to learn more about this (sold out) show, her influences and her experiences as an artist and business woman in the Middle East.
Is this the first time ‘Sandstorm’ has been performed live?
Actually, no, it had its debut at the Katara Opera House in Doha, performed by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra. We then performed a selection of pieces from the work at the Cadogan Hall in London last year and the response was so warm we decided we had to come back to the UK! It was such a privilege to perform at the Theatre Royal Haymarket and the fact we eventually played to a full house and received such an incredible reaction, well, I’m wondering when I’m going to wake up from the dream!
When you were writing Sandstorm what were your main inspirational touchpoints – musically / personally –
I'm inspired from a blend of sources - my own cultural heritage is incredibly important to me, but so are the characteristics of the music, people and landscapes I have experienced around the world. Personally, becoming a mother was the most crucial moment in my musical evolution. It was when I discovered I was pregnant that I realised I had to be entirely true to myself and in that moment of self-evaluation, I realised that the only version of myself I could offer my daughter was as an artist and creator.
What in a word / or a couple (!) would you love an audience member to have felt when leaving your show?
I would love them to feel a connection to the music and to feel moved in some way..
Correct me if I am wrong, but am I right in thinking that you had written or thought about writing a musical …?
I am in the process of writing my first musical, yes. I can’t say too much about it now but I am working with an incredibly talented team on the show and we can’t wait to bring it to life for a London audience in the latter part of 2018..
Not only are you an artist, but you also started the first ever record label in Qatar? What prompted you to do this?
Even though Qatar's creativity community is growing at an impressively fast rate, the infrastructure of a western style music industry just doesn't exist. So, in order to produce and distribute my own work and that of other artists I believe in, creating a label seemed the best solution!
What would you like to accomplish with DNA?
We want to support emerging talent that deserves to be heard and to contribute to Qatar’s growing music industry. We want to work with collaborators in the UK, Europe and the States, and of course Doha.
Can you give us any insight about the Middle Eastern music landscape and any experiences/ difficulties you have faced ..?
Although I am the only female composer I know of in Qatar, there are many other Arab women composing music and writing songs such as Jordanian-born, half Syrian, half Bosnian-Palestinian Suad Bushnaq, and British-Lebanese Bushra El Turk, both doing brilliant work. So I consider myself privileged to stand amongst these international Arab women of immense talent, representing our culture across the world; this, to me, is one of the most exciting developments on the music landscape in my region.
I hope that I can use my own experience and the lessons I have learned to inspire young talents to express themselves. I believe passionately in the development of Qatar’s music and arts communities and industries whilst also recognising the vital importance of preserving the rich cultural legacy of our ancestors that has made us who we are today.
We are working together as a society to drive forward with incredible progress in these areas and it is my true belief that future generations will not face restrictions but, as I have been blessed with support and encouragement, so must they.