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Qatar-USA 2021 Year of Culture kicks off

Qatar-USA 2021 Year 
of Culture kicks off

Ashraf Siddiqui
The Qatar-USA 2021 Year of Culture was officially inaugurated at the Katara Cultural Village Opera House on Friday, with a special concert by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra (QPO) and the US Air Forces Central Band (AFCENT Band).
The event, hosted by Qatar Museums and the United States Embassy in Qatar, was attended by Chairperson of Qatar Museums HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani, Minister of Culture and Sports HE Salah bin Ghanem Al Ali, Ambassador of Qatar to the US HE Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani, and Charge d’Affaires of United States Embassy in Qatar HE Greta C. Holtz.
The concert marked the beginning of a year of specially curated exhibitions, festivals, bilateral exchanges, and events to be held in both nations.
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 launch follows the signing of a cooperative agreement on September 14, 2020 between Qatar and the United States of America during the 2020 Qatar-US Dialogue in Washington, DC.
Commenting on the concert, 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 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 US.”
Ambassador Greta C Holtz, Chargé d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Qatar, 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.”
His Excellency Salah bin Ghanem Al Ali said, “It is important to nurture art 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. Art and culture assist in the continuous discovery and promotion of knowledge and, alongside religion and social values, can be used as an effective tools to instil morality.”
Aisha Ghanem Al Attiya, Head of Year of Culture, said, “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 next 12 months, as a platform for new dialogues and bilateral exchanges.”
“I am pleased to join our partner Qatar Museums 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 Al Fardan), 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).