Nocturne for Pit Orchestra is a performance conceived for The Bahrain National Quarry, involving the site’s laborers as performers. I involved musician/composer Rabih Beaini in a collaboration where he created a music performance based on a participative process. The project digs into dynamics of music-making in the frame of labor while aiming to explore the intermingled layers connecting the quarry’s identity with the socio-economic shifts in 20th century Bahrain and the Gulf Region.
Beaini engaged with the site laborers after contextual research, in particular on the pearl divers music - Fidjeri. Historically, Bahrain is influenced from the Persian, East African, South Asian and Levantine cultural basins. The Fidjeri is a vocal music of great complexity, embodying a pivotal history of labor in the region. The pearl divers traditionally performed publicly in the Dar music houses. He involved the group in a process where an array of influences were explored and combined. They rehearsed vocal droning, looping, amplifications, polyphonies, solo and choir. The final performance unfolds as a process navigating between dissonance and harmony. The composition is on and on dismembered and recomposed while the structure contains both conducting and improvisation.
The stone quarry - located in the desert of Hafeera - represents the very heart of sources extraction destined to construction. This landmark site has witnessed the transition between two economic eras and the consequent changes in the system of labor. It came at a time of acceleration, accompanying the radical reconfiguration of the urban landscape and the shoreline. It is a site of Modernity while the project attempts to question this ‘modern’ identity and its ties with the past, still reverberating today. The performance was presented in the quarry itself, opened to the public for the very first time.