Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Introducing the Doha Diva

 Dedicated to all the people who continue to make a difference in this world, even when they doubt their own talents or the magnitude of their efforts. For those people who year after year try to share, work, and contribute in quiet ways, I applaud and salute you. And for those people who don't feel like they have found the way to make the world a little more beautiful, listen more closely to the sparks in the heart that tell you where to shine your light:                         

                                  In a gentle way, you can shake the world."
                                                                        --Mahatma Ghandi

Katrin Meingast, our Doha Diva, from Dresden, Germany. Katrin was my cello teacher for about two years when I first moved to Doha until she moved back to Dresden a year ago. Since I was her student, I was invited seamlessly into the Doha music scene, which is rich with wonderful musicians. She launched The Baroque Ensemble, with players who play the Baroque style with Baroque music. At the German School, she began music classes after school for the children--arranging music teachers to come and teach. After a few short months, she began an orchestra with the new musicians. She organized The Baroque Chamber Group, and helped with the Children's Concert Choir here in Doha that is directed by Alena Pyne. Her handprint on Doha's music scene was every where.when she left. Yet, curiously her passion for gathering people together to play and listen to music lives on here with us. The monthly soiree musical gatherings she began at her home now continues with others taking the lead. From her influence, I started our own soiree gatherings in our home--one of the best things I have ever done. Here is a blog I wrote about it: A Musical Soiree Anyone?

What happens when one person is inspired to change the culture they are living in? How does the landscape change when one person decides to organize and collaborate to insert their vision? How does one person spark influence that others seek to follow? And how does one person see three steps ahead of what the present reality is? To see how one human being's influence can ripple is hearteningly hopeful. To look upon your talents, even if you think they are meager, and be willing to share, that is wondrous. I am endlessly fascinated how one person can make a difference in a community and in the world.

The cellist is usually a supporting actor role--not the shining role--except for Yoya Ma, and a few other notable cellists. But Katrin elevates the utility and sonorous sounds of the cello to another level for the listener. Since she loves music so much, especially Baroque, she gathers singers, other string and wind players, even percussionists to play together. At her home in Doha when she lived here, a harpsichord donned her living room. Somehow any musician that was flying over Doha, she persuaded to come and play in her home. When she was here, Katrin was always organizing another musical group, gathering, or event. We all felt lucky and blessed to be transferred to other places with her at the helm.

Katrin reminds me of the need for all of us to see what we can do to uplift those around us. There is something all of us can do to make life more just, more beautiful, more kind, more fun for those around us. I like the quote by former president of the United States, Jimmy Carter: 

  "I have one life, and one chance to make it count for something. . . .  My faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have to make a difference." 

His conviction to make a difference is my resolve too. One star at a time will light the sky. 

Handel's Messiah last winter

Herman, from Ukraine, our friend, who sang in Handel's Messiah.

Katrin, accompanying the Children's Concert Choir in Doha.
At her home in Doha, with a harpsichordist from South Africa accompanying her.

The Baroque Ensemble who played together when she lived here. The other musicians play in the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra.

Katrin put up a red curtain for the soirees that were held at her home. Her daughter is about to pull the curtain for the magic to begin. Candles were lit, everyone brought food for the occasion. Sometimes a cat would walk across the stage (her living room). The setting was a home, but the music was heavenly. And somehow Katrin, the cellist, or Doha Diva, was able to gather musicians from all around the world to perform. And we, the eager expat community loved every minute--linger memories to savor forever. Friendships were made as we all gathered each month to enjoy the music together. And all because one lone woman wanted to share her music with us. 

Thanks Katrin for teaching me how to play the cello better, but also to see your example of how to make the world better with music. Gathering musicians who are on any level of skill is now a personal passion with me too. To see children who practice all month so they can perform here in Doha at my house makes me very happy.