Conductor and Artistic Director
Giovanni moved to Qatar in 2014 when he was appointed Principal Viola of the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, after 15 years of principal viola activity in a number of accomplished orchestras around the world. 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, George Pehlivanian and many more. Observing carefully as these gifted conductors worked through rehearsals slowly inspired him to pursue conducting studies.
Giovanni was initiated to conducting in 2011 by Christopher Seaman after being selected by the Australia-based Symphony Services International for their Conductor Development Program. After various masterclasses across Europe, among others with Atso Almila from the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, he took his master’s degree in conducting at the Katarina Gurska Foundation in Madrid under the mentorship of renown conductor and pedagogue George 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. Since then, he regularly conducts extremely well received events where the young players sit side by side with the Qatar Philharmonic professionals, featuring young soloists from the Qatar Music Academy. On these occasions Giovanni also arranges a number of Arabic compositions for western orchestra and Arabic takht.
In the same year he was also 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 has 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 travelled outside Qatar for the first time to perform Beethoven 9th symphony in Malaga, Spain.
In January 2018 Giovanni became the official conductor of the Cinemoon Ensemble, another spin-off of the Qatar Philharmonic, and started with them an intense series of film-music concerts as well as family oriented, educational shows. Under Giovanni’s direction, the ensemble gained immense popularity in Qatar, as documented by local social media and booking requests. Boosting a repertoire of 50 or more films & video games’ soundtracks, Piazzolla’s Four Seasons, and a number of original educational shows, the ensemble has helped many people and children to venture in the realm of classical music for the very first time.
Giovanni has been recently honored 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, and in December 2018 he has made his conducting debut in China with Peter & the Wolf while the orchestra was touring the country. 2019 will see him conducting the same in Doha, then a new series of videogames soundtracks and an educational show based on Mozart’s letters in June, among others.
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.