The word orchestra evokes stereotypical images of serious-looking adults in bow-ties with their big instruments and a conductor. But on Friday night, the Dubai Youth Orchestra, dominated by children members aged 5 and up, gave a different meaning to the word.
For their debut concert, the 28-member Dubai Youth Orchestra treated guests to the music of J.S. Bach, Fredric Chopin, Franz Schubert, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, to name a few.
"The pieces are difficult. Mozart is a challenging piece; it's not an easy piece. Moreover, the sound production, the exhibition is something very difficult," Imad Abeidoh, conductor and one of the founders of the orchestra, told Gulf News.
The orchestra's goal, Imad said, is to provide an environment where young musicians could come together to rehearse and perform masterpieces from around the globe. The members' ages, however, are not a hindrance to establishing a standard for the orchestra. "We are not playing games; we are not trying to show off. These children, every one of them, practise one hour every day. And as you may have noticed, we don't try to stick with one style of music. We try to take from everything; we like to have a wide variety of music to perform. And every time we do it, we use more and more challenging pieces. This is our main goal," Imad said.
Before the show started, Gulf News met with the orchestra members at the backstage, where the kids played around while preparing and waiting for their performance. The youngest member, Iliya Chaaban, 5, said: "I play the violin. My favorite piece from what we will perform is "Old MacDonald."
Sami Bushnaq, 10, who dreams to become a violinist, and performed a solo of Oskar Rieding's Concerto in B Minor, said: "I feel happy when I am playing in front of people and with a group and all my friends."
Shannon Smith, in her 20s and the oldest in the group, said that when it comes to many things, especially music, age is just a number. "The children are good. Some of them are a lot better than what I am musically because they have been practising a lot more, they're in higher grades than I am.
The orchestra, which in many sense acts like one family, aims to have one more concert within the year. But they said they need help.
"All the families they like this to continue. We don't want to stop here. We need a home to practise. Now, one of my students he rented a warehouse to give us another seven months to practise. We also need to have our own instruments," Nasser Abeidoh, one of the founders of the orchestra, said, adding that most of their instruments are borrowed.
The orchestra rehearses every Thursday at The Third Line in Al Quoz. Students who have completed exams up to year 3 of instrumental experience may audition to be part of the orchestra anytime.