Image of Patrick Doyle at the Shakespeare Lives 2016 programme

Apart from these tall buildings Scotland and Qatar both look the same. Patrick Doyle

To mark this year's Shakespeare Lives 2016 Global Programme, we invited the renowned UK composer Patrick Doyle to Doha. Patrick has worked on all of Sir Kenneth Branagh’s films, including the multitude of his Shakespeare works.

Patrick Doyle’s Concert, ‘A Symphony of Films’, which highlighted great compositions from Doyle’s career and celebrated the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, showcased Doyle’s long-time collaboration on films with filmmaker Kenneth Branagh (‘Much Ado About Nothing’, ‘Hamlet’, ‘Henry V’ and ‘As You Like It’). Doyle’s concert highlighted outstanding compositions from his career such as music from Thor, Harry Potter, Frankenstein, Cinderella and Planet of the Apes. Doyle gave a special Master Class on the art of film music to Qatari filmmakers and local audiences, alongside film makers from the Gulf. 

The concert was conducted by UK conductor James Shearman and two Shakespeare actors Jessica Boone and Guy Roberts performed some of Shakespeare’s acts in accompaniment to the music. The best part of the project was that the concert sold out in two weeks and we ended up with a full house of Shakespeare admirers!

I had the chance to speak to Patrick and walk through Katara Cultural Village in Doha’s intense heat whilst moving from the theatre to the amphitheater. These 15 minutes felt very special. The first question I asked him was ‘How are you coping with the heat?’ and, amusingly enough he said: “How is it different from Scotland?” He also noted that: “Apart from these tall buildings Scotland and Qatar both look the same”. 

I mentioned my musical background and learnt that he had studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and that Birmingham, the city that I was born in, also happened to be his favourite city, and he said that this was due to the fact that his musical career had started there. He was a very good conversation partner, asking lots of questions about everything new he saw in Qatar. He made me laugh by saying that: “We Scottish people are very nosy, we want to know why and how everything works”. It was a great afternoon, in about 15 minutes, Patrick had summed up his career and managed to inspire me and impress everyone. 

Each one of us has a role model and inspirational figure that contributed to our lives. Patrick’s visit did inspire lot of young musicians and film makers, including myself. This was his first visit to the Middle East and it made him go back home with lots of positive thoughts about a region he had never had the chance to experience before. 

Music and Film is a growing cultural strand in Qatar and with Patrick’s visit we positioned the British Council as one of the main players and contributors to the creative economy movement in country and reached new audiences. Patrick’s compositions and particularly his Shakespeare music has proved that music is an international language, and he has played an important role in making an English playwright from the 16th century accessible to all.

A Day in Doha with Patrick Doyle - the musical performance
A Day in Doha with Patrick Doyle and Head of Arts in the British Council Qatar Waseem Kutoub