People of diverse backgrounds and cultures have praised the tireless efforts of Qatar in curbing the novel coronavirus pandemic recently. The minimum number of deaths by Covid-19 itself shows the success of the multiple steps taken by the government.
Russian violinist Dimitri Torchinsky also commends the strict measures taken by the government of Qatar for the safety of both citizens and residents.
Born in the former USSR, Dimitri spent his childhood in Moscow and moved to the UK in his teens. “Most of my 20’s I spent in the beautiful city of Vienna, Austria. I have spent my last 11 years in Qatar working with the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra (QPO) as a violinist. I consider myself lucky to have loved every place where I lived. Each new country presented new challenges that stimulated me in a variety of ways. Back in 2008 I hardly could imagine that Doha would become my home for such a significant part of my life. This is the place where all my children go to school, where I learnt how to drive, bought my first car, turned 30 but most importantly I made wonderful friends. Doha is such a melting pot! Nowhere else did I have such a variety among friends – different nationalities, different cultures, and religions – all living together and learning from each other, finding a home in Qatar. Within the QPO we formed the Doha String Quartet some 10 years ago, which had been a wonderful addition to my orchestral life.”
The experience of staying at home is not easy for Dimitri who loves going out and playing violin in orchestra. “Life as professional performer is perhaps the exact opposite of a socially distanced artiste or a composer. So it was a major challenge to get accustomed to the new way of life – recording from home, teaching students at Qatar Music Academy, attending recordings with colleagues, having to wear masks and sitting far away. This all has become the norm for some time.
“Not being able to go to the beach with friends, or at all, for that matter is a great pity, because my family adores our trips to the north of Qatar. On a lighter note, I so wish to go to the barber’s salon. I managed to cut my son’s hair in an acceptable way but struggled quite a bit with my own.
“I am father of three children. It is definitely a challenge to have them around the whole day every day. This gives us a brand new perspective. We have also realised that how important schools are when it comes to childcare and education. Having the freedom to work at own pace and not have to time it around zoom classes, lunches, tantrums and walks around the compound, I wonder if their teachers are smiling as they read this. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all teachers who nurture our kids at schools. On the other hand, this gives us a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend extra time with the kiddos, see them learn new things in front of our eyes. Struggle and succeed with them together.”
The Russian composer however thinks Qatar has taken all the necessary steps to ensure the safety and well-being of all people. “Seriously, I am very grateful to Qatar for taking such proactive stance against Covid-19. I am sure the situation could have been much worse if it wasn’t for their tremendous efforts. I applaud all the front line workers that are working day and night, keeping us safe and helping the sick.”
Dimitri has been witnessing and experiencing the spirit of Ramadan for 12 years in Qatar. “In the run-up to this year’s holy month, we already could not dine at restaurants, I almost didn’t feel any practical difference once Ramadan started. In fact, I tried fasting for a few days along with my Muslim friends. Life with no regular schedule is completely normal for a professional musician. Changing rehearsal times, late night recordings, Friday rehearsals, concerts finishing late – that’s all pretty standard for us. Having children at home and having to juggle with remote work gave rise to a very structured day. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a crisp routine.”
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