The strongest ever line-up of Welsh artists and performers has gone down a storm at this year’s 48th Festival Interceltique de Lorient in Brittany, an event that attracts over three quarters of a million people over 10 days to celebrate the best of Celtic arts and culture, with French media Le Télégramme proclaiming “Mission Accomplished for Wales.”
Arts Council of Wales, supported by the Welsh Government and in collaboration with the festival, put together a significant programme of Welsh culture featuring 20 performers and groups and an exhibition of visual art, showcasing a new dynamic in Welsh music to a very appreciative festival audience through bands like Pendevig. This supergroup of some of Wales’ finest young musicians premiered in Lorient before returning home to headline at the national Eisteddfod. The festival has already invited them back for their 50th anniversary year in 2020.
The programme featured VRï & Gwilym Bowen Rhys, Only Boys Aloud, Calan, Alaw, Rag Foundation, Robin Huw Bowen, Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita, Jamie Smith’s Mabon, and the Manic Street Preachers.
Pendevig’s fusion of traditional Welsh music with jazz, funk, drum’n’bass, rap, rock and pop was a standout, and was indicative of a new vibrancy in Welsh music. Rag Foundation’s Neil Woollard first played Lorient 20 years ago. He said: “Lorient changed us as a band, and in this Year of Wales it’s great to see the evolution and vibrancy in today’s traditional Welsh music in bands like Calan who started here 10 years ago.”
Antwn Owen-Hicks led the Welsh delegation and project managed the Welsh Government backed presence, with a Wales Pavilion selling famous Welsh beer brands, a programme of stage music throughout the 10 day marathon and a CD stall/information point for Welsh music run by trac. There will be a special programme about the Wales presence at this year’s festival on S4C on September 11.
Victor Large, writing in Le Télégramme said: “Passionate, energetic and talented, the Welsh musicians lit up Lorient everywhere they played.”