Sharjah Biennial 15 Music Programme artists

Sharjah Biennial 15 Music Programme features the following artists: Abdullah Ibrahim, Boubacar Traoré, Noura Mint Seymali, Tinariwen, Youssou N’Dour and Aziza Brahim


Sharjah Art Foundation presents live performances by six celebrated international artists and ensembles. Audiences will be treated to a range of musical genres and sonic experiences rooted in older traditions yet connected to newer musical forms such as jazz, blues, rock and soul.

This event is part of Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present— conceived by the late Okwui Enwezor and curated by the Foundation’s Director Hoor Al Qasimi—which brings together over 150 artists and collectives from more than 70 countries for the 15th edition and 30-year anniversary of the Biennial.

Performers include South African pianist, composer and leading Cape jazz performer Abdullah Ibrahim; singer, songwriter and pioneer of Malian Mandé blues Boubacar Traoré; Mauritanian singer, songwriter and master of the ardin [a harp-like instrument] Noura Mint Seymali; the pioneering collective of Tuareg musicians from the Sahara region of Mali, Tinariwen; Senegalese musician and Grammy Award-winning artist Youssou N’Dour; and contemporary sonic poet Aziza Brahim.

The concerts, performances and recitals take place from 12 March to 27 May 2023 in three different venues: Sharjah Performing Arts Academy, Africa Hall and Cultural Palace.

“Throughout history, music has held a significant place in Sharjah and the region, and has naturally been an integral part of our public programming over the years. The artists featured in the SB15 Music Programme represent an incredible range of perspectives and approaches that resonate with the Biennial’s themes and reflect Sharjah Art Foundation’s mission to engage both local and international audiences with the work of artists, across disciplines, not just from our region, but from across the Global South,” said Hoor Al Qasimi, Director and President of Sharjah Art Foundation.

The SB15 Music Programme is made possible with the generous support of Bank of Sharjah and Sharjah Government Media Bureau. Bank of Sharjah's sponsorship of the Sharjah Biennial aligns with the bank's focus on social responsibility and fostering cooperation among communities and connecting them through arts.

Commenting on this esteemed partnership, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Saud Al Qasimi, Chairman of Bank of Sharjah said: ‘We are immensely proud to partner with Sharjah Art Foundation, under the Chairmanship of Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, to support the international arts landscape from the heart of the cultural capital of the Arab world. The Sharjah Biennial is part of the emirate’s wider role in preserving, promoting and disseminating culture. Bank of Sharjah is committed to helping foster historic and cultural experiences in line with the UAE’s social and economic transformation vision.’

Sharjah Biennial 15 Music Programme Performances

Abdullah Ibrahim
12 March 2023, 9:00 pm
Sharjah Performing Arts Academy
Doors close: 8:45 pm

South African pianist and composer Abdullah Ibrahim’s music has multiple cultural influences, from African traditional music, Christian hymns and gospel tunes to American jazz and classical music. Out of this blend of the secular and the religious, the traditional and the modern, Ibrahim’s distinctive sound and musical vocabulary are born.

Boubacar Traoré
17 March 2023, 9:00 pm
Africa Hall
Doors close: 8:45 pm

A self-taught musician, Boubacar Traoré’s guitar sounds reflect both the influence of the kora, a West African stringed instrument, and the blues of the southern United States. Traoré (guitar, vocals) will be accompanied by Daouda Diarra (calebasse, vocals), Abdoulaye Dembélé (kamalen n’goni, kora, dozon n’goni, bolon, vocals) and Sissoko (Djeli N`Goni, vocals).

Noura Mint Seymali
18 March 2023, 9:00 pm
Africa Hall
Doors close: 8:45 pm

Musical influences from the Sahara, Maghreb and West Africa come together in the work of Noura Mint Seymali. She draws on her skill as a griot [West African singer, storyteller and oral historian] to create contemporary forms of Moorish music. The concert features Seymali (lead vocals, ardine) alongside Jeich Ould Chighaly (electric guitar, tidinit), Ousmane Touré (bass) and Matthew Tinari (drums).

31 March 2023, 11:00 pm
Cultural Palace
Doors close: 10:45 pm

Tinariwen merge traditional Tuareg melodies and rhythms with guitar-driven rock ‘n’ roll in a style known as assouf among the Tuareg people and dubbed ‘desert blues’ by music critics. The concert features Ibrahim Ag Alhabib (vocals, guitar), Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni (vocals, guitar) Touhami Ag Alhassane (vocals, guitar) Tahar Khaldi (vocals, bass guitar) Elaga Ag Hamid (vocals, guitar) and Said Ag Ayad (vocals, percussion).

Youssou N'Dour
6 April 2023, 11:00 pm
Cultural Palace
Doors close: 10:45 pm

Collaborating with Senegalese Sufi singers, Youssou N’Dour has created a new performance that speaks to the theme of our shared humanity. The Grammy Award-winning singer has released more than 20 albums and is well known for mbalax, a popular genre of Senegalese music that has sacred origins in the Serer music njuup tradition and ndut initiation ceremonies.

Aziza Brahim
27 May 2023, 9:00 pm
Africa Hall
Doors close: 8:45 pm

Contemporary sonic poet Aziza Brahim was born and raised in the Saharawi refugee camps lining the frontier between Algeria and Western Sahara. One of her earliest cultural influences was her revolutionary grandmother, Al Khadra Mint Mabrook, known as ‘the poet of the rifle’. The concert features Aziza Brahim (lead vocals, tabal) alongside Ignasi Cussò (electric guitar), Guillem Aguilar (bass) and Andreu Moreno (percussion).

Ticketing information

All concerts are ticketed. General admission ticket: AED 100
For concerts happening at the Cultural Palace, balcony seats: AED 150
Book at or on-site at the venues.

Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present

Sharjah Art Foundation brings together over 150 artists and collectives from more than 70 countries for the 15th edition and 30-year anniversary of the Sharjah Biennial. Conceived by the late Okwui Enwezor and curated by the Foundation’s Director Hoor Al Qasimi, Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present reflects on Enwezor’s visionary work, which transformed contemporary art and has influenced the evolution of institutions and biennials around the world, including the Sharjah Biennial.

Al Qasimi interprets and elaborates on Enwezor’s proposal with a presentation of more than 300 artworks—including 70 new works—critically centring the past within contemporary times. These works, as well as a wide-ranging programme of performance, music and film, activate more than 19 venues in five cities and towns across the emirate of Sharjah: Al Dhaid, Al Hamriyah, Kalba, Khorfakkan as well as the city of Sharjah. Among the many venues are sites within Sharjah’s historical quarter; buildings recently restored and transformed by the Foundation, including The Flying Saucer and Kalba Ice Factory; and repurposed structures that once served as a vegetable market, medical clinic and kindergarten.

Free and open to the public, Sharjah Biennial 15 runs through 11 June 2023.

About Sharjah Art Foundation

Sharjah Art Foundation is an advocate, catalyst and producer of contemporary art within the Emirate of Sharjah and the surrounding region, in dialogue with the international arts community. The Foundation advances an experimental and wide-ranging programmatic model that supports the production and presentation of contemporary art, preserves and celebrates the distinct culture of the region, and encourages a shared understanding of the transformational role of art. The Foundation’s core initiatives include the long-running Sharjah Biennial, featuring contemporary artists from around the world; the annual March Meeting, a convening of international arts professionals and artists; grants and residencies for artists, curators and cultural producers; ambitious and experimental commissions; and a range of travelling exhibitions and scholarly publications.

About Sharjah

Sharjah is the third largest of the seven United Arab Emirates, and the only one bridging the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Reflecting the deep commitment to the arts, architectural preservation and cultural education embraced by its ruler, Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Sharjah is home to more than 20 museums and has long been known as the cultural hub of the United Arab Emirates. It was named UNESCO's Arab Capital of Culture for 1998 and the UNESCO World Book Capital for 2019.

Media Contact

Alyazeyah Al Marri