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Set amid restored heritage structures in the heart of the old city, Calligraphy Square is one of the Sharjah Art Foundation's favored venues for musical performance.Calligraphy Square witnessed the regional premiere of Wael Shawky's latest performance work, Saturday evening, which reframes one of the founding tales of European history. The work was co-produced by SAF and a number of European cultural centers and festivals, including Hamburg's Theater der Welt, where it had its world premiere in May, 2017 . In Sharjah, it was performed by 19 vocalists and musicians collected from Sharjah and Bahrain, all practiced in fidjeri, a style associated with the Gulf's pearl harvesting tradition.It's an incongruous pairing – Gulf Arab performers telling the story of a European hero's defeat of a Muslim army – but then incongruity is a major feature of Shawky's workFormally speaking, "Roland" resembles his 2013 work "Dictums 10:120," which saw the artist take shards of curatorial-speak, have them translated into Urdu and performed as qawwali (a form of Sufi devotional music popular among Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus in India and Pakistan).Said to date back over 800 years, fidjeri music is known for its call-and-response choral structure, punctuated by solo voice and informal choreography.
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