Conductor and Artistic Director
Giovanni moved to Qatar in 2014 when he was appointed Principal Viola of the Qatar Philharmonic, after 15 years of principal viola activity in a number of accomplished orchestras around the world, including the Lyon Opera, La Monnaie in Brussels, the BBC Philharmonic, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Malaysian Philharmonic, the Orquestra Sinfonica do Estado de Sao Paulo, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Chamber Orchestra and many others.
He was privileged enough to work with artists of the caliber of Lorin Maazel, Riccardo Muti, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Georges Prêtre, Neville Marriner, Colin Davies, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Bernard Haitink, and many more. Observing carefully these gifted conductors working through rehearsals slowly inspired him to pursue conducting studies.
Giovanni’s first conducting experiences date back to 2007 while coaching community and youth orchestras in Malaysia and later on in Australia. Soon after his appointment as principal viola of WASO in Perth he got selected by the Australia-based Symphony Services International for their Conductor Development Program. From then, a new learning path culminated into the completion of the master degree program at the Katarina Gurska Foundation in Madrid, where Giovanni had the chance to work side by side with renown conductor and pedagogue Georges Pehlivanian.
During his studies, Giovanni could build his repertoire conducting various orchestras across the globe, such as the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia, Sydney Sinfonia, Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic and Cairo Symphony Orchestra.
In September 2014, Giovanni was appointed conductor of the newly-formed Qatar Youth Orchestra. Soon after he was invited to become conductor of the Qatar Concert Choir and, through its partnership with the Doha Baroque Ensemble, member of the Qatar Philharmonic, has been able to realize their joint mission to bring high-quality baroque music to Qatar. Together they have already performed Bach’s Christmas and Ascension Oratorios, Purcell’s Ode “Come ye Sons of Art”, Handel’s “Messiah” and the Opera “Alfred” by T. Arne. In December 2016 he conducted a Shakespeare celebration with a baroque potpourri from Locke and Purcell’s “The Tempest” featuring renown mezzo soprano Stefanie Irányi.
The reputation gained by the choir under Giovanni’s direction made it the obvious choice for the Qatar Philharmonic when it comes to choral works to be performed in Doha. In August 2018 the choir has travelled outside Qatar for the first time to perform Beethoven 9th symphony in Malaga, Spain.
Giovanni has been recently honoured by the management of his own orchestra to conduct his colleagues in some important works for large chamber ensemble, like Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll and Stravinsky Dumbarton Oaks, as well as educational and family projects, and such opportunities will continue throughout the current season. Giovanni also regularly conducts extremely well received events where the Youth Orchestra players sit side by side with the Qatar Philharmonic professionals, featuring young soloists from the Qatar Music Academy. In these occasions Giovanni also arranges a number of Arabic compositions for western orchestra and Arabic takht.
Irish born, Alena has studied and been involved in music all her life and is passionate about music education especially for children. She read music in Trinity College Dublin, is a qualified piano teacher and also studied the Irish harp for a while.
Alena is founder and conductor of Qatar Youth and Junior Choirs who celebrated their 5th birthday in the 2018-19 season. She is also Deputy Choirmaster with Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra. Alena is also Head of Music at the prestigious Kings College Doha school.
Qatar Youth and Junior Choirs perform regularly in Qatar and travel internationally every year. Under her direction Qatar Youth Choir won 1st place at Qatar’s inaugural National Music Competition in 2018 and were awarded the Special Judges Prize and financial bursary sponsored by the German Embassy of Doha for the best performance of a song by a German composer. Qatar Junior Choir were placed 2nd in their Junior category. Both choirs have been awarded many distinctions in the accredited ABRSM choral singing exams. Alena also prepares her students to take formal written music theory exams.
Alena offers much international experience having taken her choirs on international tours to Germany, Latvia, Croatia and Poland. She offers choral workshops and has experience leading large-scale choral singing festivals like the annual Qatar Choral Festival. She conducted large scale singing also at the enormous Europa Cantat festival in Hungary in 2016.
Alena continues to study choral conducting with the Association of British Choral Conductors and has started on her journey in orchestral conducting with American Maestro George Pehlivanian, an orchestral and opera conductor.