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Wales Arts International launches new agreement with Air India ahead of WOMEX 13

Wales Arts International launches new agreement with Air India ahead of WOMEX 13

Air India Agreement press shot Oct '13

Ahead of WOMEX later this month, which is being supported by the Welsh Government, when world music enthusiasts and industry descend on Cardiff, Wales Arts International, the international arm of Arts Council of Wales, and Air India have signed a partnership agreement that brings together the music and poetry of Wales and India.

The aim of this exclusive partnership is to facilitate the Ghazalaw collaboration between leading Ghazal singer Tauseef Akhtar and Welsh folk singer Gwyneth Glyn, instigated by Wales Arts International and Arts Council of Wales. The initial link between Wales Arts International and Air India was established at a business event hosted by the First Minister and the Indian High Commissioner in Cardiff in September 2012.

Mumbai Ghazal singer Tauseef Akhtar was introduced to Cardiff-based Welsh singer-songwriter Gwyneth Glyn through their mutual mastering friend Donal Whelan. Facilitated by Wales Arts International the two artists came together in both India and in Wales to explore their musical affinity; Ghazalaw was born, bringing two cultures of poetry and music to greater audiences in both countries. Ghazalaw has since been selected as a headline performance at WOMEX 13 – the first time musicians from Wales have received such a prestigious slot – and will also feature in the Opening Concert.

‘Ghazalaw’ is a fusion of Welsh folk songs and Indian ghazal, an ancient poetic form originating in 6th-century Arabic verse. In this way it shares much with the ancient, tight-metered poetic form that is such a feature of Welsh poetry and songs. As the project has developed, Gwyneth and Tauseef have been joined by other musicians including the talented Georgia Ruth Williams on harp and support vocals and Indian musicians Ashish Jha, Manas Kumar and Sanjoy Das.

Nick Capaldi, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Wales said:

"Our partnership with Air India is about working together to maximise the full potential of the Ghazalaw collaboration; to support wider opportunities for cultural connections between Wales and India and to work with Welsh Government to increase further trade between Wales and India. This new agreement has allowed us to ensure that Ghazalaw is featured as part of WOMEX 13 opening concert next week, which will put Wales and its talent in the spotlight as never before and will feature the Indo-Welsh collaboration Ghazalaw as the main international connection."

Mr Kailash Singh, Regional Manager UK, Europe and Ireland, Air India added:

Air India, the airline partner for WOMEX 13 Opening Concert, is proud to support Ghazalaw – the unique collaboration between one of our leading Ghazal musicians from India, Tauseef Akhtar, and the enchanting Welsh singer Gwyneth Glyn – through our first partnership with Wales Arts International. Air India is committed to supporting arts and culture, and this partnership will connect people and cultures across Wales and India. We look forward to Ghazalaw taking a special place at WOMEX in Cardiff and to the continuing relationship between Wales and India."

Welcoming the news Rt. Hon Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister said:

"I’m pleased that Ghazalaw, which develops the cultural links of India and Wales and embodies the spirit of WOMEX so well, will be one of the headline performances of the festival this year.

"The Welsh Government has been delighted to support WOMEX 2013 in Cardiff. This is the first time that the festival has come to Wales and I hope it inspires other musicians from across the world to share their cultural heritage."

Working with Welsh Government, British Council and other partners, artistic collaboration between Wales and India has been at the heart of Wales Arts International’s recent initiatives. Celebrating our literatures, music and languages, Welsh authors have starred in major Indian literary festivals, Indian translators journeyed to Wales to understand the roots of our folk music, and school children in both countries are linking digitally to share their passion for words and sound.

WOMEX in Cardiff offers a unique opportunity to bring Indian and Welsh artists and music industry together in Wales and to increase trade possibilities. Major festivals, promoters and record labels from India will join a select group of international colleagues to take part in a bespoke programme – organised by Welsh Music Foundation - in Cardiff in the days leading up to WOMEX, meeting Welsh musicians and organisations and exploring our capital city. Indian and Welsh music experts will come together at conference and networking sessions.

And in the week days following WOMEX Ghazalaw will join Ballet Nimba (Wales/Guinea) to perform to audiences across Wales in a tour organised by Creu Cymru and Theatr Mwldan. They will finish by performing in Tauseef Akhtar’s Legacy concert at London’s Logan Hall on the 10th of November.

Founding Director of Cerdd Cymru: Music Wales, and Head of Wales Arts International Eluned Hâf, has highlighted WOMEX as a vehicle to showcase Wales' musical traditions on the world stage, stating:

"The unique new sound created by blending Urdu and Welsh poetry to folk music that Gwyneth Glyn and Tauseef Akhtar are creating is going to delight audiences. The beautiful Gahzal genre of singing love poetry offers a new perspective on the longing or hiraeth of Welsh folk music. With WOMEX coming to Cardiff next week, inspiring international collaborations such as Ghazalaw are particularly relevant. It has great potential to take the music of Wales to new audiences globally and brings new inter-cultural dimensions to the arts of both countries."

For further information please contact Sian James on 029 2044 1344 or email sian.james@artswales.org.uk


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