Three talented Welsh music acts are travelling to Glasgow this week to represent Wales at Showcase Scotland and Celtic Connections 2023 as part of an international partnership between Wales Arts International, Spectacle Vivant en Bretagne (EPCC) and Showcase Scotland.
The artists are Machynlleth-born singer and multi-instrumentalist Cerys Hafana; chamber folk trio VRï; and Welsh folk singer Gwilym Bowen Rhys, who hails from Bethel, Eryri (Snowdonia). They will perform at Celtic Connections events between 25 and 28 January 2023.
They will also take part in the Showcase Scotland as it returns for the first time in two years – giving Welsh folk music an incredible platform in front of hundreds of international music industry representatives - and offering the artists the opportunity to broaden their networks and develop their careers.
Sharing the spotlight with Brittany at these prestigious Celtic events is a special occasion for Wales, as the event also coincides with the beginning of the Welsh Government’s ‘Year of Wales in France’. Wales Arts International will lead a cultural programme as part of the year, bridging connections between Wales and France, and celebrating the cultural links between our two nations throughout 2023 and beyond.
This year’s shared showcases build on the Digital Spotlight on Wales in 2022, which featured Eve Goodman, Pedair, Cynefin, The Trials of Cato, NoGood Boyo and N’famady Kouyaté – all filmed in stunning locations across Wales.
Dawn Bowden, Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport said: "Wales' Celtic connections are shared, and like our other Celtic sister nations, are unique and diverse. This showcase is an opportunity to encounter and fall in love with our music, our traditions, and our contemporary collaborations with other cultures. I'd like to extend my thanks to Brittany for generously agreeing to share the country focus this year, as we look forward to the Year of Wales in France 2023. We know the value that collaboration across culture brings to Welsh society, economy, and culture and we’re keen to share Wales with the world too."
Eluned Hâf, Head of Wales Arts International said: “We can’t wait to return to Glasgow in person this year for Showcase Scotland at Celtic Connections. We’re thrilled to be supporting three brilliant artists as they take the next steps in their music careers. Each artist harnesses the much-loved folk traditions of Wales and the Welsh language in an exciting and vibrant way. We will also be promoting the talented and diverse showcasing artists from the 2022 event which was sadly not in person due to Covid. This year’s event is extra special as we’ll be sharing the spotlight with our ‘Celtic sisters’ Brittany as we embark on the Year of Wales in France.”
Gwilym Bowen Rhys will perform with Claire Hastings and Blood Harmony on 25 January at The Mackintosh Church. Gwilym Bowen Rhys said: “I’m delighted to return to Glasgow to sing at Celtic Connections – it’s one of my favourite music festivals and I feel very fortunate to be part of it this year and being able to share my music with a wider audience. I’m particularly looking forward to enjoying performances by the artists from Brittany.
Wales and Brittany have so much in common, but seldom do we have the opportunity to share a stage together in this way – so being part of this partnership is a huge privilege.”
Cerys Hafana performs as part of Celtic Odyssée and Fara on 26 January at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and with Catriona Price on 27 January at the Strathclyde Suite at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
Cerys Hafana said: “I came to Celtic Connections for the first time last year, for a frantic weekend with the folk band Avanc, and am really looking forward to returning this year and getting to spend a bit more time exploring the festival and the city. This will be my first time playing as a solo artist in Scotland, and I can't wait to share my weird triple harp music with a Scottish, and international, audience.”
VRï perform with Cara Dillon at the New Auditorium, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on 28 January. Aneirin Jones, from VRï, who studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “We're thrilled to be performing at Showcase Scotland and Celtic Connections 2023. Glasgow is a brilliant city with a rich music scene, especially traditional and folk music - with Celtic Connections being the highlight of the year. We previously played at the festival in 2019, as part of Gwyneth Glyn's ‘Calennig’ concert alongside Plu and Kizzy Crawford, and we had an absolute blast. There are so many exciting things happening in Welsh trad music now - at home and abroad – so representing Welsh music on this internationally acclaimed stage is a huge privilege for us and supporting the wonderful Cara Dillon is going to be a career highlight.”
Celtic Connections 2023 runs from Thursday 19 January to Sunday 5 February 2023. Follow the conversation at @ccfest.
For the programme line-up visit the Celtic Connections website.