Qatar orchestra hires female cellist as conductor

In a part of the world where women often aren’t allowed to drive, vote, work, run for office, or go to school, one country stands out.  

In the last two decades, since a peaceful coup by the son of Qatar’s ruler, women in Qatar have been able to begin doing all those things and more, participating freely in all parts of public and social life and maintaining a high profile in professional and educational settings.

Now, Qatar has added a woman, cellist Han-Na Chang, to another high-profile procession — as conductor of the Qatar Philharmonic.  The 29-year-old Korean woman is being presented as a unifying force for the orchestra, as well as the new face of classical music.

Established only five years ago, the symphony in this petroleum-rich part of the world is well funded and quite diverse. Its musicians represent 30 different nationalities, however according to Chang, “everyone is of the same, very high calibre.”

Chang also represents another small but growing group — musicians who are stepping from the stage to the podium.  She has been scaling back her performance schedule to devote more time to the baton, which has apparently paid off.

Read Qatar’s new, unifying force (The National)