Qatari musician Mansour al-Mohannadi, who was selected as the lead singer in the ‘River of Music’ programme held as part of the cultural events during the recently concluded London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, has shared his experience playing in front of an international audience.
The ‘River of Music’ was presided by the UK dance outfit and cross-cultural globetrotters — Transglobal Underground, which led a new collaboration with stand-out musicians representing Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the UK, in a musical rendezvous.
“I was worried and a bit hesitant in the beginning, especially when I was being vested with the responsibilities of leading the group and showcasing the traditional music of the Gulf, and Qatar in particular, to an international audience,” al-Mohannadi said at a press conference held recently at the British Council Qatar.
He explained how unsure he was in the beginning about delivering a good quality music that will be appreciated by such a diverse audience in London saying: “I was not sure if we are going to be successful, especially when I was not that much conversant with Western audiences, despite having had a rehearsal in front of a similar audience in Dubai earlier.”
“Also, being part of a group gave me a mixture of feelings and made me worry as the leader. I didn’t expect the good team spirits with which we all worked. And, I am happy that we were able to impress the audience in the end because we saw that they got connected to the Arabic music almost immediately,” he recalled.
Al-Mohannadi mentioned that his musical talent began to blossom in 1988, when he was about 18 years old after falling for the traditional music of the sea.
“I have always been fascinated with the sea and pearl diving, especially those songs by the ‘Nahma’, who is the singer that usually motivate the divers during their pearling expeditions. And this is why I have specialised in this genre of music called ‘Al Nahma’ ever since,” he said.
Al Nahma is considered an essential element for the captain of the diving ship as well as the pearl diving journey, he explained.
Al-Mohannadi, who has a 12-man strong band, has recorded up to three albums and performed in countless concerts at theatres and private events such as weddings and other grand occasions in Qatar and in the neighbouring countries.
Also speaking at the press conference, the British Council Qatar manager Martin Hope said that the council was pleased that the Qatari iconic singer was able to participate, representing the Arab Gulf culture at the events.
“We congratulate Mansour al-Mohannadi on his successful performance, which was enjoyed by a large audience and thank him for his fruitful co-operation with the British Council. We hope to work together with him in similar initiatives in the future,” he said.
The British Council has curated a series of high-profile collaborations connecting British musicians with artists and performers from around the world to form part of British Transglobal ‘River of Music’.
The performances contributed to making the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games a truly international experience and forms part of the British Council’s wider contribution towards the London 2012 Festival.
Ahead of the London show, the British Council had organised several scoping visits to the participating countries for the British Intransit Group – Transglobal Underground, where the creators, comprising Lee Hamilton and Tim Whelan and product creative Jason Walsh, visited Qatar last December to get familiarised with the country’s musical artistic scene and culture.