“Al Fardan is at the forefront of professional and influential women in Qatar…” – Culture Whisper, London

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.

"BRAVE NEW WORLD" - COMPOSED AND WRITTEN BY DANA AL FARDAN

The concert entitled ‘Brave New World’ is a message of solidarity and a symbolic partnership between Italy and Qatar joining forces to support displaced Syrian families and children currently living in refugee camps in Jordan. The funds gathered through this event will be used to support the growth and sustainability of existing psycho-social education  programmes for children and families currently living in refugee camps in Jordan, under the umbrella of the Italian NGO Vento di Terra. In addition to providing psychological support to help them overcome their trauma from the war, the centres will provide a wide variety of educational and creative activities. Education, hobbies and artistic activities can play a major role not only in the recovery process but also in bringing a sense of dignity to those refugee families trying to find shelter, a place to live and some semblance of a normal life again.

The concert will be staged at the Qatar National Convention Centre on FEbruary 1st, 2018. It already is receiving strong support from the local and global music community. Prestigious local artists such as Ali Abdulsattar and Fahad Al Kubaisi have embraced the project with their full commitment to the forthcoming concert. Moreover, the highly respected composer Dana Al Fardan has written and composed the song ‘Brave New World’, as a result of her collaboration with the Pavarotti Foundation. Nicoletta Mantovani, President & Founder of Luciano Pavarotti Foundation and wife of the late Italian Maestro showed her gratefulness to the Qatari composer: “Dana Al Fardan captured the emotions of this cause and the courage needed to pursue a new world - a brave one - into the lyrics in an exceptional manner. I would like to express my highest gratitude for her generosity, creativity and commitment to this fund raising concert”.  

Additional international artists, musicians and performers have pledged their support and will be announced later this year. 

"Qatar Airways Celebrates Dana Al Fardan, the official composer of the Qatar Airways Group"

DOHA, Qatar – Qatar Airways today named artist Dana Al Fardan, globally renowned composer and artist, as the official composer for Qatar Airways Group. This recognition caps a series of highly successful engagements, including the composition and 2016 performance of The Beginning for Hamad International Airport, its official theme song.

More recently, Ms. Al Fardan’s original composition, Art of Flight, is prominently featured in the airline’s new television commercial featuring the innovative and game-changing Qsuite – Qatar Airways’ new Business Class product that allows passengers to customise their experience on board. Parties of four can create their own cabin-within-a-cabin by lowering privacy panels and joining their Qsuites together. This product also features the first-ever double bed option in Business Class, all of which combine to bring elements of First Class to Business Class.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “Ms. Al  Fardan’s talent is well recognised around the world, and we at Qatar Airways are happy to provide another stage for her inspiring and beautiful music, and to pair it with our world-class service. At Qatar Airways, we look after the details in order to earn our best-in-class reputation.”

"Dana Al Fardan Support Act for Hussain AlJassmi Live in Doha"

Qatari musician Dana AlFardan will be giving an opening performance at the concert.

Dana said, “I am excited to share a stage with regional star Hussain Al Jassmi. Shop Qatar’s entertainment schedule offers a great platform for enriching Qatar’s cultural offerings and sowing the seeds for more home-grown talent.” She added, “Culture and heritage cannot be separated from the artistic process and I am happy to see that it has a prominent role in the development of the country’s tourism sector.”

The concert come as part of Shop Qatar’s colourful live entertainment schedule, offering a rich array of cultural shows, performances and unlimited family-friendly entertainment.
 

"Qatar Primary School Choir competition announces Dana Al Fardan as Ambassador"

Qatar Primary School Choir of the Year (QPSCoY) has announced Qatari composer Dana Al Fardan as its ambassador. 

QPSCoY has also said that Dana has agreed to compose a short piece especially for this year’s competition, which will be sung by all choirs competing in the final.
The Qatar Primary School Choir of the Year competition was officially launched at the Shangri-La Hotel Doha in December 2016. Shangri-La Hotel is the official hotel partner for the competition and will host many of the heats and the final.


The committee of Qatar’s inaugural primary school singing competition met with Dana al-Fardan last week to discuss her new role as ambassador and were “thrilled with her positivity and commitment to the cause”.


Dana said: “I want children to grow up in an environment where they are taught about music. It means so much to me… We have so much talent in Qatar… Qatar should be a hub, a producer of talent which then radiates worldwide. I will do anything at all to help the competition.”
When speaking about the opportunity that the competition presents to school children in Qatar, she also reflected on choral events she attended as a child in Doha: “They were the highlight of our year, we all absolutely loved performing at them and were so excited to go.”

SANDSTORM CONCERT - Live performance in Doha by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra at the Katara Opera House

The album will be performed live in Doha for the first time with 2 new songs Lustre and Fjiri. 

Lustre, a collaboration between solo violinist and prominent member of the QPO, Maias Alyamani, with Al Fardan writing the music and Alyamani arranging it.

"This song is a reference to the lustrous, silvery-white substance that is emitted from pearls and is also a nod to the Al Fardan family’s heritage and pearl trading background.

Dana's  second new piece, Fijiri, is a traditional genre of music synonymous with pearl diving and this featured local Qatari drummers performing the rhythmic patterns characteristic of “Fijiri”, and a “nahham” chanting about the stories of the sea, alongside the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra.

DANA AL FARDAN HAS BEEN HONOURED BY HAMAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

The event, also titled ‘The Beginning’, highlighted HIA’s journey over the years, including its official inauguration as well as the launch of the official music theme.

The music for ‘The Beginning’ was composed by Dana Alfardan, with the musical piece performed by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra (QPO) in front of the iconic Lamp Bear at HIA as well as next to the airport’s runway.

During the event, a special video was also shown with footage of QPO performing ‘The Beginning’ at various locations around HIA.

Dana Alfardan has confirmed that through this exclusive partnership with HIA, ‘The Beginning’ will played around the whole airport including its lounges, lifts and the special video will also be shown on board as part of the in-flight entertainment on Qatar Airways flights.

"The Beginning" chosen as official theme song for HIA.

Hamad International Airport (HIA) has hosted an Airport Stakeholders Appreciation Dinner this week to commemorate all airport partners and stakeholders who have been part of Qatar’s award-winning airport, which completed two years of operations last month.
HE the Minister of Transport and Communications Jassim Seif Ahmed al-Sulaiti attended the event to present airport stakeholders and partners with appreciation certificates on behalf of HIA.
HIA staff and representatives from a number of airport stakeholders were present at the event, including representatives of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Qatar Civil Aviation Authority, Qatar Tourism Authority, Qatar Museums, Ministry of Interior, Airport Immigration, General Authority of Customs, CID, Qatar Airways, Qatar Duty Free and Qatar Airways Cargo.
Al-Sulaiti said: “Hamad International Airport has achieved tremendous success since its opening and has made the country proud as the gateway into Qatar and to the rest of the world. I am happy the airport has organised this appreciation event to recognise all their partners who have played an integral role in the airport’s success.” 
Qatar Airways group chief executive Akbar al-Baker said: “Hamad International Airport is a major part of the Qatar Airways group. In a short period of time, the Qatar Airways hub became one of the main airports in the region and across the world, and a destination by itself. We extend our special thanks to the Ministry of Transport, all partners and stakeholders for presenting this good image of Qatar, and we look forward to more achievements.”
Badr Mohamed al-Meer, chief operating officer of HIA, said: “It is our honour to work alongside partners who have made our growth and success possible.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our airport stakeholders for their tireless efforts and constant support. We are proud and grateful for all that we have accomplished together - but this is only the beginning. We will reach greater heights together.”
HIA’s official theme music, ‘The Beginning’, was also exclusively revealed to guests. The music has been composed by Dana Alfardan, founder and CEO of DNA Records, an independent music label based in Doha and London.
The musical piece was performed by Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra in front of the iconic Lamp Bear at HIA and beside the airport runway, and guests at the dinner became the first to view the new video.
HIA has been acknowledged as the “Best Airport in the Middle East” by the Skytrax World Airport Awards for 2015 and 2016, and is also the first in the Middle East to enter the world’s top 10 best airports in the Skytrax World Airport Ranking.

Music of Dana Alfardan live at Cadogan Hall in London

Guy Manoukian - Live in Concert

Featuring the music of Dana Al Fardan performed by artists from the Peace and Prosperity Trust. 

A Night of Oriental & Western Fusion Music.

Back by popular demand, the British Lebanese Association is proud to present Guy Manoukian live in concert performing his greatest and a selection of new hits. The opening of the evening features the music of Dana Al Fardan, for the first time in London, performed by artists from the Peace and Prosperity Trust.

New single "We are the Light" in collaboration with DJ Juan Pestana & Guests from Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra

Dana Alfardan, founder and CEO of DNA Records, Qatar’s first record label, has confirmed her latest signing of celebrity DJ and producer, Juan Pestana, launched at an exclusive media event at Antica Pesa on April 28th, 2016. Juan’s debut performance, the DNA Records Take Over Event will also be hosted at The St. Regis Hotel, the finest address in Qatar. Juan Pestana and DNA Records will also be releasing Juan’s highly anticipated debut single, We are The Light, at the media event.

The rising Portuguese producer who grew up on the island of Madeira and also has Venezuelan heritage, has had a deep love and passion for music from a young age, as Juan started playing the piano when he was just six years old after his older sister received it as a birthday gift, but she wasn’t too interested in playing it. Over the years, Juan built his first home studio where he spent countless hours playing songs that he heard on the radio, recording them and then mixing them, heavily influenced by electronic music that had started to sweep the world’s airwaves in the early 90’s.

As a self-taught musician, Juan invested a lot of time in honing his musical talent by forming his own band at 14, learning to play and perform music across a wide range of musical genres including rock, pop and Latino, and then touring with his band across Portugal and Europe, as he simply loved the feeling of playing live music in front of a crowd of people.

Following his move to Doha, Qatar in 2012, Juan has been busy expanding his musical abilities as he now also plays the bass guitar, drums and percussion. During this time, Juan has also spent a lot of time in the studio mixing music and working on his singles, including We Are The Light, written by Dana Alfardan, an engrossing and exhilarating debut which features a combination of exquisite cello played by renowned Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra (QPO) cellist Kiki Schmitz. Juan’s other singles include These Are The Best Times and The Sun Will Rise, with both melodic and easy going house tracks poised to be the summer anthems of 2016, will also be played live for the first time during The Rooftop event.

Commenting ahead of his Doha debut, Juan Pestana said: “I really love all kinds of music and I think that a lot of diversity as a musician is incredibly important. I’m really proud of everything that I have accomplished to date, especially with We Are The Light, and thanks to the ongoing support of Dana and DNA Records. With Dana’s continued encouragement and the foundation of DNA Records we have been able to create a unique sound that people are responding well to, and I’m pleased to say that Dana is constantly at the forefront of music in Qatar.”

Speaking about the signing of Juan Pestana to DNA Records, Dana Alfardan, CEO of DNA Records, said: “As soon as I met Juan and I had the chance to hear his sound, I believed in him as an artist and saw what he was capable of. DNA Records is proud to be supporting and nurturing local talent in Qatar, and it is also a testament to the fact that music is continuing to grow in Qatar and that it is becoming increasingly a part of our culture, and that is a beautiful thing.”

Juan’s music style is varied covering different musical genres and periods, as he has been influenced by a number of incredibly unique musicians such as German producer Stefan Baucig. Meanwhile, Juan’s amazing ability to arrange and produce music, as well as his lively performance style which includes a live performance on the keyboard, live mixing and live collaborations with other artists including vocalists Judi Jackson, and instruments such as Cellist Kiko Schmitz and Violinist Dimitri Torchinsky, ensure an electrifying performance from Juan every single time.

Following on from last year’s successes for DNA Records, which included a song written by Dana, This Is Your Life, incorporated on international superstar, Grammy nominated, DJ Robin Schulz’s latest album, Sugar, 2016 is tipped to be a huge year for DNA Records and Juan Pestana, as fans can expect to hear a lot more over the coming months. 

In 2015, Dana launched DNA Records, a homegrown record label, to serve as a long term and sustainable platform, as well as to support local and international artists, providing them with the right tools and knowledge to turn their dreams into reality. DNA Records currently operates over an international space working with recording studios in London as well as private recording studio in Qatar, as the label’s artists continue to benefit from a cultural exchange.

Music of Dana Alfardan performed at Anima Gallery.

Dana Alfardan, leading Qatari composer and songwriter, debuted her latest album, Sandstorm, performed by The Doha String Quartet & Friends featuring MAias Alyamani, esteemed solo violinist, on Monday evening at Anima Gallery, The Pearl, Qatar. All eleven songs from the Sandstorm Album have been composed by Dana Alfardan, who along with being a songwriter and composer is also the CEO of DNA Records, the first Qatari record label. The impressive musical showcase included all eleven songs from Sandstorm, which included three never before heard tracks, The Beginning, Tango Swing along with Luster featuring MAias Alyamani. 

Standout tracks on the album include Pride of a Nation, a musical tribute to Qatar which is a great source of pride for Dana; as well as Music Box, inspired by the magical, haunting and nostalgic quality of music boxes; this piece captures both the simplicity and purity of that sound. These along with Spirit Of Thunder, a song capturing the emotional storm before the calm, the piece is characterised by light, hope and growth, and Layla, Dana Alfardan’s musical ode to her daughter which she says is her greatest inspiration, are key pieces on Sandstorm.  

Speaking during the evening, Dana Alfardan, Qatari composer and songwriter, said: “Sandstorm is a very personal album with every single one of the songs being of significance to me. I am thrilled with the results and the overwhelmingly positive reaction from this evening’s audience, and am delighted to have the long standing support of The Doha String Quartet & Friends who performed Sandstorm, truly bringing the album to life.” 

"This Is Your Life" - A collaboration with Robin Schulz on his latest album "Sugar".

DNA Records collaboration track with Grammy nominee Robin Schulz launched by Warner Music

Qatar-created ‘This is Your Life’ to reach millions worldwide

On 25 September, ‘This is Your Life’, a collaboration track by Doha and London-based DNA Records with celebrated international DJ Robin Schulz, was released by Warner Music on Schulz’s new album Sugar.

The German electronic producer and DJ is famous for his past work with hip-hopartist Mr Probz, singer-songwriter Jasmine Thompson and band Lilly Wood and thePrick. Schulz produced 2014’s hits ‘Waves’ and ‘Prayer in C’ and his 2015 single

‘Sugar’ from the new album is already a number-one hit in Austria and Germany,where the 2014 album Prayer sold more than 100,000 copies last year.It’s all good news for Qatar’s budding music industry.

‘This is Your Life’ was written by Dana Al Fardan, well-known Qatari songwriter andfounder of the independent music label DNA Records. It also features vocals by Hayley Tizzard, a British teacher in Doha who performs professionally and was selected despite other big-name singers being linked with the track.

Adding another local element to the mix, ‘This is Your Life’ was recorded at Doha’sKatara studios, recently constructed in collaboration with leading UK recording studio Metropolis. With the mounting costs of recording-studio time coming in typically between QAR400 and QAR500 per hour, musicians internationally may well be looking with interest at the advantages of using Qatar’s new, state-of- the-art resources. If Sugar does well, that interest can only increase.

DNA Records offers an inspiring example of how Qatar’s nascent music scene is developing both the talent and the resources to grow. Al Fardan’s manager Will Gresford got the ball rolling for the Schulz/Al Fardan collaboration by sending some of the Qatari songwriter’s work to Shulz last year, around the time when the German DJ’s up-tempo remix of ‘Waves’ by Dutch hip-hop artist Mr Probz shot up the charts to take the number one slot for two weeks on the Billboard Hot Dance/Electronic Songs List.

Qatar will certainly see a huge benefit to its musical ambitions if there is a Schulz/Al Fardan hit. Assuming Sugar builds on the popularity of Schulz’s previous album Prayer, which was awarded Gold status by the German music industry, ‘This is Your Life’ could sell in the hundreds of thousands and potentially reach millions worldwide.

Music lovers reading this will be pleased to know that DNA Records are working on a series of concerts for the end of this year and early next year, in addition to a much anticipated debut album launch in summer 2016 by DNA Records singer-songwriter

Ryan O'Reilly. The album comes hot on the heels of a string of European tours, including a December collaboration with British singer Lizzy Pattinson.

Stay posted through their updates. Meanwhile ‘This is Your Life’ and Sugar are on sale in music stores and available for download online.

LAYLA: MUSIC OF DANA AL FARDAN

LAYLA: MUSIC OF DANA AL FARDAN

Layla: Musics of Dana Al Fardan performed live with the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra.

Andy Brown: Conductor

Daisy Chute and Lizzy Pattinson: Vocals

Brodie Tunui: Backing Vocals 

Tim Buxter: Musical Director and Orchestral Arranger

Jessica Dannheisser: Orchestrator and Additional Arrangement 

PAINT BY DANA AL FARDAN

Dana launched her debut album, PAINT, at an exclusive party held at the Sheraton Hotel Doha.

The album, PAINT, will be released for the first time in Qatar and across the globe through Viva Records and will be available in Qatar from 20 November 2013 in Virgin Records. The free single, Confined, from the album, is available a danasounds.com.