Two world-class Grammy Award-winning artists, Elvis Costello and Angelique Kidjo have been announced as joining Patti Smith, Gruff Rhys, Passenger and Billy Bragg as headline music acts at this year’s Festival of Voice Festival.
The Festival of Voice, which takes place between 7-17 June, in venues across Cardiff, will close on June 17 with a show from Elvis Costello & The Imposters,with the skilled wordsmith and unique vocalist covering everything from politics to love songs.
Earlier, on June 9, Beninese vocalist and activist, Angélique Kidjo will perform her latest project, a reinterpretation of the classic Talking Heads album ‘Remain in Light’. Well-known songs including Once in a Lifetime will be rearranged with electrifying rhythms, African guitars and layered backing vocals in a spectacular genre-bending presentation.
As well as headline music shows, the second announcement from Festival of Voice includes new multi-arts and theatre projects, commissioned especially for this year’s festival.
Welsh experimental psych-pop artist Gwenno will present Edrica on June 15, an audio-visual celebration of the life and work of Anglesey-based patchwork pioneer and poet Edrica Huws, drawing parallels between creating modern electronic music and patchwork stitching.
Other female-led premieres created for Festival of Voice include:
- Welsh actress and singer Carys Eleri’s Lovecraft on June 5, a one-woman science-comedy musical looking at the scientific underpinnings of love and loneliness in modern society.
- Highway One from June 5, directed by Mathilde López, a touching and absurdly funny tale of the tribulations of travel in search for meaning, featuring live performances from Katell Keineg including songs from her forthcoming album.
- Double Vision from 6 June, a new thriller and multi-sensory inclusive experience inspired by Hitchcock and Lehman from Cardiff-based gig theatre specialists, Gagglebabble, featuring an original score from Lucy Rivers performed by a live band fronted by 9Bach’s Lisa Jên.
- Camille O’Sullivan will perform the songs of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds with Cave on June 12-13, a theatrical exploration of the dark and light of Nick Cave’s music from the enigmatic Irish singer story-teller.
“Women and song are at the heart of this year’s new commissions,” said Graeme Farrow, Artistic Director, Wales Millennium Centre and Festival of Voice.
“They will move you, make you think, laugh, and even frighten you. You can’t see these shows anywhere else but in Cardiff and we are showcasing some of the extraordinary talent we have here in Wales.”
“There is much to reflect upon in the world in 2018 so this year’s programme includes an opportune moment to protest together, to listen to debate and to get involved. The human voice is democratic, rich and wonderfully varied. I hope that experiencing and discovering the voices within this festival will be a life-affirming adventure and a celebration of the most beautiful instrument we share together.”
Festival of Voice is also inviting women (including those who identify as women or non-binary) and girls to raise their voices with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take part in PROCESSIONS, a mass participation artwork to celebrate one hundred years of votes for women.
On Sunday 10 June, women and girls in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London will walk together, wearing either green, white or violet to represent the colours of the suffrage movement and standing for “Give Women Votes”. Produced by Artichoke and commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, PROCESSIONS will appear as flowing rivers of colour through the city streets, creating a living portrait of women in the 21st century (register from 8th March at processions.co.uk).
Graeme continued, “We’re incredibly excited to be working with Artichoke who make some of the most extraordinary and ambitious public art in cities around the world. This will be the first time they’ve brought one of their projects to Cardiff and we felt it was perfect timing to celebrate 100 years of suffrage during Festival of Voice and give the women of Wales an opportunity to come together, celebrate sisterhood and share their voices.”
Two of Wales’ national companies will also present brand new work.
National Theatre Wales will collaborate with Manchester-based theatre troubadours Quarantine on English from 14 June, which looks at language, migration and identity. Made in Wales but with a global perspective, this performance pulls pop songs apart, tears grammar to pieces and invites all the languages in the room to be heard. The lead performer will be Cardiff-based actor and Deaf activist Jonny Cotsen.
Welsh National Opera will tell the tale of a powerful voice from the past with Rhondda Rips It Up! On 14 June – featuring Lesley Garret as Emcee, the show tells the story of Margaret Haig Thomas (Lady Rhondda), the Newport suffragette whose activities paved the way for women’s rights.
The following evening, WNO will also present a concert conducted by Music Director Tomáš Hanus, featuring distinguished German soprano Angela Denoke with the WNO Orchestra 15 June, with a programme that includes Berlioz’s Summer Nights – one of the most magical of all orchestral song-cycles.
The festival’s music programme also features last year’s Welsh Music Prize winner, The Gentle Good on 14 June, known for his intricate guitar playing and timeless folk melodies, supported by Ivan Moult, with special performances from both artists as they’re joined on stage by the Mavron Quartet.
Welsh multi-instrumentalist Ali Lacey aka Novo Amor will support Norwegian folk-songstress Susanne Sundfør on 13 June for an evening of compelling storytelling and arresting vocals.
Audiences can also look forward to powerful vocal displays from several international collectives including Reykjavíkurdætur on 9 June, a 10-woman-strong rap collective from Iceland; A Filetta on 8 June, a Corsican vocal group whose six members’ vocals soar and intertwine with three-part polyphonic songs; and Tank and The Bangas on 8 June bring their flawless marriage of rap, spoken word and neo-soul as one of the most distinctive groups to come out of New Orleans.
Vibes player and multi-instrumentalist Orphy Robinson will present Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks on 10 June, bringing together some of the UK’s top jazz players to reinterpret Van Morrison’s 1968 masterpiece.
Atlantic Arc Orchestra on 14 June will see a vibrant collaboration of respected traditional musicians and singers from both the North and Republic of Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales.
Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, Lord Elis-Thomas said: “It’s wonderful to see home-grown, ‘Made in Wales’ events flourish, which is why the Welsh Government is proud to support events like Festival of Voice – and see them grow.”
“They showcase Wales as a vibrant, dynamic and outward looking nation. Festival of Voice builds on the unique heritage of Wales as the ‘land of song’ while also focusing on nurturing future talent. This is a very exciting time for Music in Wales – and an opportunity to celebrate. Following the success of the inaugural event in 2016, we look forward to the variety and surprises which await us in June.”
A new Talks programme is being introduced this year in partnership with The Open University in Wales and will take place at Jacob’s Market, with a focus on ‘Women and War’ and ‘Expression and Communication.’
Chapter have also joined the festival as a programming partner, with shows and events in their theatre and studio spaces from independent record label Bubblewrap Collective on 15 June, Cardiff-based artist Tim Bromage on 10 June, prolific songwriter Jacob Wren fron 8-9 June, and Mouthpiece on 14 June, a heart-wrenching and humorous journey into the female psyche from Toronto-based Quote Unquote Collective.
Festival of Voice has also partnered with Learning Disability Wales to launch Gig Buddies, a befriending scheme that matches people with a learning disability with volunteers who share the same interests, so they can go to gigs together.
Festival of Voice promises to be a beacon of fresh ideas and invites local and international artists and audiences to come together to hear and be heard across eleven days.
Encouraging a spirit of discovery, performances will take place in existing arts venues, pop-up spaces and unique sites across Cardiff, including a three-floor vintage market, a TV studio, and one of Wales Millennium Centre’s backstage rehearsal rooms.
Sarah Dennehy, Executive Creative Producer said: “The second instalment of Festival of Voice plays host to some incredible artists from Benin, Sweden, Iceland, Corsica, America, Canada and beyond as well as plenty of amazing home-grown Welsh and UK talent.”
“Arts festivals have the capacity to deliver experiences that help us remember how amazing we can be when we really put our voice to something. Our programme aims to look beyond borders, instead celebrating the vibrancy of art and voice.”
A further Festival of Voice announcement will be made on 10 April including a final music headliner, details on a Utopian building takeover curated by Charlotte Church at Wales Millennium Centre on Saturday 16 June, plus more unique, powerful and diverse voices from Wales and the world.
- For tickets and further information, visit festivalofvoice.wales or call 029 2063 6464.
- Look out for further articles, interviews, previews and video footage on EntertainmentSouthWales.com