A statement from trac’s Director, Danny KilBride, on behalf of the Trustees and staff of trac
trac notes with sadness the end of BBC Radio Cymru’s Sesiwn Fach. With the presenter Idris Morys Jones, it offered a window into our traditions, our musicians, and more importantly, our songs. It was the only Welsh language programme concentrating on our indigenous music and built a small but loyal audience of musicians and fans alike. Idris is a consummate professional and we are sure that he will soon rejoin our airwaves with something equally suited to his warmth and passion for Welsh culture.
We understand the reasons the BBC have ended the show but we are hopeful for positive changes from Radio Cymru. The interim arrangement with Georgia Ruth – a hour-long section of her programme focusing on Canu Gwerin – guarantees at least an hour of our music on our national broadcaster and is available on BBC Radio Player.
I went to talk this over in person with BBC Radio Cymru. We wanted to let them know that trac could not welcome the loss of Sesiwn Fach without plans to ensure that the folk music of Wales is heard on our main Welsh-language broadcaster. We had a wide-ranging discussion about content, playlists and how to bring folk music from a “specialist ghetto” into the mainstream music listings for the station. It is an ongoing conversation where ideas are tested, refined and re-imagined before becoming more concrete.
“Folk, roots and traditional music” commands a significant proportion of our audience, certainly double that of jazz and four times more popular than opera and classical music and in our Welsh speaking communities the measurable gap between Canu Gwerin and other genres is not as significant in Anglophone communities because we “own” our traditions in different ways. This partially explains the success of Tŷ Gwerin, trac’s flagship partnership with Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru.
But we need to keep up the work to bring our traditions into our national life and that means finding new ways of presenting it on Radio Cymru, Radio Wales and all our broadcast networks. “We” the Cymry, whatever language we speak, are the oldest of the communities that make up Britain and our voices need to be heard as equals