Qatar? I barely know'er.

 

Yes, it is in fact pronounced "CUTTER." Eh, tomayto/tomahto. A running joke in the band lately has been to say "I barely know'er after anything that ends in the sound "-er." Stupid and annoying? Not yet...For the past few weeks we have been in the general Doha area of Qatar, mainly doing community outreach gigs at schools, malls and some things around the Air Base.  Personally, I wish we'd be travelling a bit more, but there were some issues that have been preventing that.  In the grand scheme of things, I'm still happy playing music almost everyday, shedding, working out, and watching some movies. (Currently working through all of the Indiana Jones films on Netflix...classics!)  

As far as some morale/cultural experiences, we paid a visit to the Islamic museum of art recently, which was excellent! Much different from many of the museums I've visited.  Alot of pottery, jewelry and carpets, all beautiul in their own unique way.  The museums was in a part of town that overlooked the entire skyline of downtown Doha and the bay which leads to the Persian Gulf.  Gorgeous! I had no idea this part of the world was so picturesque.  It was great to just sit by the water and take in the day.  I couldn't help but think, in no other part of the music industry would I ever be able to tour this part of the world, playing music as an ambassador for not just the Air Force, but for all American musicians.  

The beautiful Doha Skyline

The beautiful Doha Skyline

The new exhibit at the museum, opened to rave reviews!  

The new exhibit at the museum, opened to rave reviews!  

People who live in this part of the world, never get to see a live band. I've learned that many children also do not get exposed to music and the arts on a regular basis. It really just isn't part of the culture here.  I must say that we have alot of fun playing for kids in the schools out here.  The moment we hit that first note of whatever we're playing, their faces light up.  I'm sure that most would agree that listening to music on a phone or a stereo is one thing, but feeling it in person is a whole other experience, especially for kids in this part of the world.  

Question: How did you all get to Qatar?   Answer: Camels. (next question) 

Question: How did you all get to Qatar? 

Answer: Camels. (next question) 

At many of these schools, the music teachers are on contracts for around 2 years to live and teach in Qatar.  At the end of their contract, they can opt to stay, or move to a different country.  A particular teacher I met was from Canada, and she really seemed like she enjoyed livng and working here.  I believe she is moving back to Canada after a number of years of building a music program up from virtually nothing.  A similar story from teachers I met in Kuwait, who have lived and taught all over the wealthiest parts of the middle east.  So, all of you people sitting on your education degrees who "can't get a job," or "hate subbing," you aren't looking hard enough! I would love to teach and live in this part of the world.  New teachers to me, seem like they are very close minded, feel obligated to follow their peers and are afraid of change. There is more opprotunity in the teaching world than you think! I wish that my music ed. program at West Chester put more emphasis on "teaching abroad" opprotunities.  I really had no idea that such a thing exisited, especially for Music! I was too busy learning about 16th century counterpoint and gregorian chant...End rant...


Recently, a few of us went to see the Qatar Philharmonic, with Krzystof Pendercki conducting.  Penderecki, most well known for his piece "Threnody for the victims of Hiroshima (1960) showed great energy and charisma on the podium at the age of 83! That piece "Threnody," which I remember studying at one point, is recognized for its very atonal, harsh and "out there" kind of sound.  None of the pieces on the program I saw, resembled that style.  Nonetheless, it was a great program, with a few of the conductors' own works in addition to Dvorak's Eighth Symphony.  The latter of which will forever give me memories of learning the first movement of that piece for conducting II class! I was tempted to get up there and show Pendercki how it's done...It was a great night, capped off with a traditional arabic hot tea called "Carac," and a killer desert called "Chapati."

Pendercki greets the concertmaster. 

Pendercki greets the concertmaster. 

A great part of what the band does in a deployed enviornment, is that we go play for many of the other squadrons on the base.  We try to just "pop in" and play a few tunes in our acoustic instrumentation in the hopes of making someone's day just a little bit brighter.  A really fun one of these performances was at the firehouse near the flightline. These guys work 24 hours straight, ready for any fire that may break out on the flightline or on a plane.  We rolled up and played 5 or 6 tunes and they had a blast!  Grown men singing, T-Swift. Hilarious! They were also gracious enough to show us around, let us ride in the biggest firetruck I've ever seen, blast enormous amounts of water out of a huge cannon and yes, slide down "THE POLE."  I wish I had more pictures, but it was dark out when we were there.  I'll leave you with this one! 'till next time...

There I go... 

There I go... 

Sometimes, perfection is just being a nobody sitting in coffee shop, reading a book!                                                     

Sometimes, perfection is just being a nobody sitting in coffee shop, reading a book!