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Dozan Wa Awtar choir innovates in tune with guest conductor Bradley

By Jean-Claude Elias - Apr 22,2017 - Last updated at Apr 22,2017

Members of the Atfal Dozan choir, far left: Nedy Muna, music director and GM, with Elise Bradley. On the far right: Shireen Abu Khader, founder, with Karam Chakkour, resident conductor (Photo by Jean-Claude Elias)

AMMAN — Dozan Wa Awtar Singers, Jordan’s most famous choir, is once again in the limelight, this time with a significant difference.  “Voices of the Land”, the latest performance of the prestigious vocal ensemble that took place on Saturday, in Amman's Greek Catholic Cathedral of Saint George, brought with it two important elements.

First was the presence of renowned New Zealander musician and educator Elise Bradley, who is visiting Jordan and conducted the choir. She is currently the conductor and director of the Toronto Children’s Choir in Canada.

Second was the participation of Atfal Dozan (“Dozan’s children” in Arabic). The offspring of the main ensemble, in both the literal and figurative senses, were participating in the event, particularly capturing the attention of guest conductor Bradley.

Invited by the choir’s founder, Shireen Abu Khader, Bradley spoke to The Jordan Times at length and with passion about her endeavour and her commitment to children, not just in Jordan, but in all countries where she has had the chance to work.

The musician explained that, when it comes to the musical education of the young, there is an important distinction between teaching them to play an instrument and teaching them to sing. The second is more natural, requires less time and financial investment than the first one. 

Singing is about a person’s very soul, identity and personality. Giving children the opportunity to sing in an ensemble gives them freedom. 

“Let the children be who they are, and beyond… Their voice is their instrument,” Bradley said.

The immensely positive impact of vocal training and education on the children cannot be overestimated, according to the New Zealander 

“… It does not just do them good, it is much more than that; it is sometimes a real, complete therapy,” she said, adding that, to a great extent, singing helps with children’s development in the broad sense by making them “… better able to interact with other young people and more settled in class”. Furthermore, “…it improves their social and cognitive behaviour”, she said.

Singing with Atfal Dozan are children as young as six. Listening to them rehearsing while interviewing Bradley brings the clearly audible confirmation of their motivation, their genuine love of music, and also their excellent skills and beautiful, fresh young voices. It is an obvious example of raw talent combined with a lot of work and dedication, that comes both from the children and also, perhaps more importantly, from those who educate them in music.

For the two choirs, Dozan Wa Awtar Singers and Atfal Dozan, Bradley has chosen music from all over the world and from various time periods. 

From Bradley’s own country New Zealand’s Maori cultural heritage (Kaitiaki — or guardianship), to rhythms and dance music from Canada, Europe and the Levant, the children are exposed to a wide and diverse scope of music that contributes to enriching their musical culture and knowledge. 

 

This exemplifies music as a boundless, universal language; one that makes it all the more important to learn when you are young.

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