UAE Philharmonic Orchestra on a shoestring

Posted on: April 9, 2010

The four-year-old United Arab Emirates Philharmonic Orchestra in Abu Dhabi performed its first concert in December 2009, but according to a Tuesday (4/6) report in The National (Abu Dhabi), it is still a struggling operation due to lack of funding. The musicians—none of whom are Emirati members—play on a volunteer basis and concerts are funded by “a handful of corporate bookings and random donations.” Philipp Maier, who conducts the orchestra, says in the article that he initially thought forming the 70-piece orchestra would be “the hardest part. But the struggle had only just begun.” The orchestra has played at the 2008 Al Ain Classics Festival, at the opening of the Westin Hotel in Dubai, and at the Emirates Palace Hotel. “Every time we play the auditorium is full,” says Maier. “Sometimes, we’ve had to turn people away. But we have done this all with no financial backing. … We have done some workshops already and now Zayed University wants us to do a residence program, but we can’t due to lack of funding. Children here are not exposed to classical music nor are they taught that becoming a musician could be a way of making a living.” Maier says that “serious investments” would have to be made for “home-grown classical musicians” to become part of the orchestra.

Posted April 9, 2010