Austrian Association for Contemporary Art and Music


Al-Watan, 31 March 2011

by Dr. Sadek Pharaon

The Orchestra of the High Institute of Music in Damascus was founded in 2003. It is preparing professional musicians with a good orchestral experience besides their studies as soloists and good musicians for professional orchestras. Most of the musicians are students in the High Institute of Music and some of the new graduated students .The Austrian Association for Contemporary Arts and Music (AACAM) was founded in Vienna in 2005 to promote contemporary arts and music. It already cooperated with our High Institute of Music before this evening.

Ewald Donhoffer is a young Austrian conductor. He was highly appreciated in the musical milieus in Vienne, the Capital of Music, when he conducted the Viennese  Symphonic Orchestra . He received invitations to conduct orchestras in Dresden, Bonn and others. The host Maestro trained the Orchestra of the High institute for two weeks . It is his second visit to Syria .

Syrian young composer Wassim Ibrahim and renowned Austrian oimposer Ms. Johanna Doderer participated to the program. The Orchestra has been conducted by The Austrian Maestro and the Maestro Missac Bagbodarian , conductor of the National Symphonic Orchestra .

The big hall was full of listeners, families of the students and diplomatic corps members including the Austrian Ambassador Dr. Maria Kunz and solders of the Austrian Battalion stationed in our Southern boarde .

At the beginning, the Orchestra conducted by Missak Bagbodarian opened the concert  by the opera of Mozart Kidnapping in the Serail, It is very nice , the public welcomed and applauded it.  Then the Host Maestro introduced the Austrian composer to the public and spoke about her musical carrier. The Orchestra conducted by Donhofer played her piece Work for string orchestra. The music started very quiet indicating the transparency of the composer, then the music started to interact and to be full of strong sound. It was full of rich dissonance which adds to the music modernism and strong spiritual activity. Hearing this authentic peace which shows clear musical capability was a big enjoyment . This music was applauded enthusiastically.

Then the Orchestra played the piece Passacalia, composed by our young musician Wassim Ibrahim. It is niece piece showing real talent of Wassim Ibrahim, to whom we wish prosperous future.

The Orchestra consducetd by the host Maestro played the Movement of the Fifth symphonic of Schobert . It is contrary to the nice rhythmus and the soft feeling of the Vienneses who like the music, the beauty and the nature. This music had been appreciated by the public too.

At the end Missak conducted the orchestra in a piece of the host composer in Tritsch Tratsch Polka of Strausss. Strauss is the king of the Valse and of the Polka and his music interpreted the soul of Vienn andof  its inhabitants. This piece is very elegant and nice, we can call it “ the City dances” , the city is Vienna , the homeland of the Music . The public was Swaying gleeful.

This evening  was one of the nicest evenings  of Damascus Opera house . Many thanks for this evening to the Austrian Embassy, to the Austrian Society for Contemporary Art and Music in Vienne and to the Maestro Donhofer and Bagbodarian . Best wishes to the young orchestr , I hope it will have successful future in the world of the great music . I wish continuous progress to Dar AL-Assad in the world of arts .

Till the next .

SANA, 24 March 2011

by H. Sabbagh

Experiences in the field of developing musical composition in Syria range from those that remain at the threshold of this art form to those who sail boldly into it to prove their presence on Arab and international levels.

Musical composition is an important indicator of the development of a country's musical movement. In Syria, there are around 20 important names in this field, with their musical styles and projects ranging from oriental heritage music to contemporary western music, while others adopt a fusion of classical western music and oriental music.

In an interview with SANA, composer and pianist Ghazwan Zarkli said that establishing Selhi al-Wadi Institute for music in 1961 marked the beginning of a musical renaissance in Syria, noting that the Institute seems to neglect musical composition in favor of musical performance.

Zarkli said that the current trends in Syrian musical composition are mostly based on western techniques, but composers tend to focus more on music and neglect singing.

He pointed out that the phenomena of songs from the Syrian coast region filled a void in Syrian folk music, causing controversy in the cultural community.

Zarkli said that there is a deficiency in Syrian music in the sense that there is no music with a clear Syrian element that is distinguished by its relation to heritage and Syrian dialects and accents.

For his part, composer Hassan Taha said that musical composition is an intellectual and artistic process that expresses the composer's vision, noting that Arab music is distanced from the intellectual state of Arabs both on the level artists and audience.

He pointed out that there is no Syrian music on the level of international classical repertoire, with Syrian musicians traveling abroad to perform folk music as a simple, nostalgic cultural case, adding that Syrian composers are virtually unknown locally, and that they gravitate towards the more popular music that appeals to the audience and attract sponsors.

In turn, young composer Wasim Ibrahim said that musical composition is a creative state that requires great skill and experience, stressing the importance of study alongside experience in the career of musicians and composers.

Conductor Missak Bagbodrian said that musical composition is a very complex science and not just a natural gift as it relies on very deep knowledge of music, musical theory and technique.

Bagbodrian said that there are two generations of Syrian composers: pioneers who made personal efforts and studied to create personal styles heavily influenced by European romanticism, and the younger generation which is influenced by modernity and whose music reflects contemporary life.

Regarding the attempts made by some Syrian bands to reinvent heritage music, Bagbodrian said that this is a mistake because heritage is society' legacy, and that these attempts will distort heritage because was influenced by a specific time period, while life continues to change and develop.

SANA, March 24 2011

by R. Raslan/M. Ismael

The Syrian Maestro Missak Baghboudarian and his Austrian counterpart held a music concert at the Opera House in Damascus.

The concert was organized by the Orchestra of the High Institute of Music in Syria and the Austrian Association for Contemporary Art and Music.

The two maestros started the evening with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart works, recapturing the fine balance he achieved between string and wind instruments and the beauty of his melodies.

The Orchestra performed a selection of Franz Schubert melodies collected by the Austrian composer Johanna Dodderer under the title "Variations on Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka".

Missak Baghboudarian said the concert celebrated the wrap up of the 5th workshop held by the High Institute of Music in cooperation with the Austrian Association for Contemporary Art and Music with the aim of enhancing cultural and development projects.

For her part, Dodderer said she is happy to be in Damascus for the first time and having the opportunity to present works collected from Johann Strauss works.

The Orchestra of the High Institute of Music was established in Damascus, 2003 with the aim of qualifying professional musicians to be solo players or players in professional orchestras.

ECHO, March 2011

by Dr. Sadek Pharaon


Damascus Opera House (DOH) invited music lovers in Damascus to attend a concert given by the (OHIM) and conducted by the guest Austrian conductor Ewald Donhoffer and our conductor Maestro Missak Baghboodarian at the Opera Theatre.

It is noteworthy to mention that this concert was the fruit of massive rehearsals made by the guest conductor Donhoffer that preceded the event. This was realized through the cooperation of the Austrian Association for Contemporary Art and Music (AACAM) in Vienna and the Austrian Embassy in Damascus. Herr Donhoffer is a young conductor who made a massive debut after graduation with the well known conductor Fabio Luisi in their production of Mozart’s “La Finta Semplice” at the Theater and der Wien. He was also invited to conduct in Dresden, Bonn, Leipzig, and Vienna’s Volksoper. This is his second visit to Damascus. Also coming with the Austrian delegation is the promising young composer Miss Johanna Doderer who is now well known for her many successful compositions for chamber orchestras, string ensembles, and opera. Her recently given String Quintet at the Austrian Parliament’s inauguration and on the request of Austrian Federal President Fischer was a great success. Also participated in this event one of our young composers: Wassim Ibrahim in his “Passacalia”. The OHIM is mainly formed by the students of the HIM and some of its recently-graduates. The hall was full with earnest listeners, of many Austrian officers and soldiers from the Austrian UN Unit in Syria, and in the presence of the Austrian ambassador in Damascus Dr. Maria Kunz, and the members of the Embassy. Five works were performed and conducted by both conductors: First Mozart’s Overture of “Die Entfuehrung aus dem Serail” which was given an enthusiastic and delicate performance under the baton of our Maestro Missak. Now came the First Syrian Performance of Miss Doderer’s “Work of String Orchestra”. The music starts in a highly sensitive pianissimo passage that reveals a translucent and pure human soul. It was followed by an energetic and live development that also reveals the intensive vitality of the composer’s inner soul. It is rich with lovely dissonances and pulsating rhythms that add to the beauty of the work, but without much excesses in cacophonies like present-day extravagant atonal compositions. Her work was received with high applause. After that, Wassim’s “Passacaglia” was performed and this is a lovely work with admirable dissonances, syncopations and ever changing rhythms. His music reveals a genuine composer in the make and we wish him a brilliant future in the realm of the great art. Now the Orchestra with the guest conductor played F. Schubert’s Fifth Symphony. The last item in this marvelous music evening was J. Doderer’s “Variations on “Tritsch Tratsch Polka” by Johann Strauss. This is a pleasant and lively modern work intermingled with Strauss’s elegant polka tune. It eloquently reveals the true spirit of Vienna and the love of the Viennese for a leisurely going life in the magic nature of Vienna and of its surrounding forests and gardens. The audience responded with high ovation and Donhoffer kindly conducted the orchestra in an encore Polka from Strauss that reflects the soul of the ever-lovely and life-loving Wiener. During the performance of the Polka, with its splendid rallentendi and accelerandi, you could, in your imagination, see the whole City of Vienna is dancing too. Many sincere thanks are expressed to the Austrian Embassy in Damascus, to the AACAM, to Johanna Doderer, to Maestro Donhoffer and to Damascus Opera House for a thrilling concert and look for more such events.

5 Jahre syrisch-österreichische Musikkooperation - Johanna Doderer präsentiert Kompositionen

(Damaskus) Ein fulminantes Konzert in der Oper von Damaskus markierte am

23. März den Höhepunkt der bereits seit 5 Jahren bestehenden

österreichisch-syrischen Musikkooperation zur Förderung junger Musik-

und Kompositionstalente. 

Das Konzert wurde in einem intensiven zweiwöchigen Workshop vorbereitet.

Der Chefdirigent des Syrischen Symphonieorchesters, Missak Baghboudarian,

erarbeitete in Zusammenarbeit mit dem österreichischen Dirigenten Ewald

Donhoffer mit dem Orchester der Musikhochschule Damaskus ein

abwechslungsreiches Programm. Dies setzte sich aus zeitgenössischen

Werken der vielfach ausgezeichneten Komponistin Johanna Doderer sowie des

syrischen Komponisten Wassim Ibrahim in Kombination mit Werken von Mozart

und Schubert zusammen, eines der Stücke wurde von Doderer speziell für

das syrische Orchester umgeschrieben und im Rahmen des Konzerts

erläutert. Beide Komponisten nahmen aktiv am Workshop teil.

Der Workshop und das Konzert wurden bereits zum fünften Mal von

der Botschaft in Zusammenarbeit mit der MusikhochschuleDamaskus und der

Österreichischen Gesellschaft für Gegenwartskunst und Musik organisiert.