Classical music, in its generic sense, is the art music stemming from Western liturgical and secular traditions. Today, one of its most interesting aspects is how it travels. The harp has long benefited from amazing work in the Asia Pacific region, like in Singapore, Thailand, China, and Japan. Increasingly, for all they are ringed by desert, the Gulf states are also proving a fertile source of new musical life. The ongoing success of the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra is one example, and another is what's going on in Dubai.
Dubai has quite a lot of job opportunities for harpists to play in its luxury hotels. This was how Shelley Frost first arrived in the country, having taken such a job in order to fund a new harp. She has stayed, taken playing for corporate events to an entirely new stratosphere, and has now applied her vision and professionalism to developing the concert scene. In 2009, we blogged about The Fridge, Shelley's arts centre. Since then, she has also, together with her composer colleague Joanna Marsh, created an organisation specialising in art music: The Score. Shelley and Joanna's concept is not only to bring top performers to the audiences of Dubai, but also to feed into the grass roots of the local music culture. As a result, all of the concerts in the season are surrounded by an array of workshops, master classes and music educational activities.
Under the auspices of The Score, Catrin Finch will be making her concert debut in Dubai on March 25th. This will include a masterclass for professional harpists of the region, a matinée for and with school children, and the world premiere of a work by Joanna Marsh, "A Short Handbook of Djinn". This work consists of three movements, each about a different djinn, and each preceded by a short narrative explaining their role in Arabic culture.