Showcasing the rich and ancient culture of Wales at the Festival Interceltique de Lorient
The culture and traditions of Wales were the feature of the Lorient Interceltic Festival in Brittany from the 1st to the 10th of August 2008.
The Year of Wales officially opened on Saturday the 2nd of August 2008, with a gala celebration and exhibition to showcase the rich and ancient culture of Wales at the international Celtic festival.
The gala evening was a feast and fusion of ancient and contemporary Welsh traditions presented by the Welsh/Breton poet, rapper and TV presenter, Aneirin Karadog, who gave his own introduction to the Brythonic culture linking Wales and Brittany. He was joined by writer and art critic Siân Melangell Dafydd, born and brought up in Snowdonia and currently living between Paris and Wales.
The first half of the evening delveed into the roots of Welsh traditions, with performances of music and dance by Clerorfa, a fifty-strong folk orchestra of harps, fiddles, flutes, Welsh hornpipes and bagpipes, directed by two of Wales’ top traditional musicians, Stephen Rees and Robin Huw Bowen. Dawnswyr Môn along with Huw and Bethan Williams brought the percussive beats of Welsh clog dancing to Clerorfa’s rich sound. Other musicians included the trio Sidan and one of Wales’ finest choirs, Dowlais Male Voice Choir.
The second half featured young and emerging performers such as Bethan Nia (Winner of the Celtic Connections Open Stage competition 2008) and Creative Wales 2008 Award Winner, singer song writer, Richard James. 9Bach, who have distilled over 200 years worth of songs to create a honey-dipped sound, rounded off a memorable evening.
Eluned Haf, Director of Wales Arts International, said:
"Welsh culture, more than ever before, is developing a strong international reputation, and has a wealth of artists who are already positioned on a world stage. Now is the time for Welsh art and artists. The world is getting excited about our culture and traditions through the quality of work being produced by our contemporary artists and musicians, and the strong international reputations they are building. Ours is a cultural tradition steeped in history, but it is a living, vibrant culture that our creative people are able to communicate in very contemporary ways."
Two Welsh artists featured in the Euro-celtic art exhibition. Iwan Bala explored cultural identity and the way it exists within the wider world. His work made use of recurring motifs such as the twin faced Janus, a Romano-Celtic deity that unites past, present and future in its gaze. At the opening of the exhibition on Saturday 2nd August 2008, one of the collaborating writers, art critic Siân Melangell Dafydd, introduced the "Hon" exhibition. Also exhibiting was John Uzzell Edwards, who's work was to do with Pure Painting, not picture making, and has been driven by an exploration of early Welsh forms. His exhibition was inspired by the aesthetic quality of Welsh quilts and blankets that has given such a purpose and energy to this new body of work.
The Year of Wales Gala celebration took place at 21.30 on Saturday the 2nd of August 2008 at the Grand Theatre in Lorient.
Many more artists from Wales performed at various other venues as part of the Lorient Festival, including the Year of Wales Pavilion.
The visual art exhibition and the Gala evening were supported by Wales Arts International.
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To view the Programme for the Year of Wales Gala Concert, please see below: