With its 2022 relaunch as Llais a resounding success, the former Festival Of Voice is a musical feather in the Wales Millennium Centre’s cap this autumn. Llais co-curator Gwenno Saunders has kindly written down some of her thoughts on its bounty for Buzz.
It has been such a joy to curate this year’s Llais. I’m a proud Cardiffian and that was always in the back of my mind when thinking of performers and artists to join us this year. Cardiff is made up of a rich tapestry of cultures and languages which makes the city a truly unique part of the world, and particularly the Docks where Wales Millennium Centre is situated defines so much of our identity as people of this city.
My personal take on ‘the voice’ is that I define it as contributing to the conversation in the most radical way possible, in whichever way is best to the person who has something to say. When I think of artists who have inspired me, they have been radical thinkers who have left no stone unturned to reveal something new to us about ourselves.
It’s difficult to choose just one highlight from this year’s Llais lineup, but I am looking forward to hearing the Royal Welsh College Of Music & Drama’s celebration of Alison Statton’s music. As a Cardiffian, I’m forever indebted to her for creating albums which perfectly convey the atmosphere of the city. James Yorkston and Nina Persson will also be a highlight; they have both been very influential to me as an artist and Nina’s approach to singing and musicality is like no other.
Culturally speaking, I can’t wait to dive into the Wales Broadcast Archive Screenings and to watch the screening of The Dragon Has Two Tongues alongside a discussion between its director Colin Thomas and musician & animator Tad Davies. It is going to be unmissable. Clare Marie Bailey’s films will also be a beautiful way for Llais visitors to spend their afternoon and I encourage people to book her Parallel Lives exhibition. This will be a showcase of her analogue films which play out like half-forgotten TV miniatures from a pre-internet childhood, infused with hauntological folk horror and fairy tale surrealism. The films offer a glimpse into a world where the boundaries of reality are blurred, bridging the seen and unseen.
Mark Jenkin’s Enys Men will also captivate viewers as a chilling and endlessly mysterious folk horror tale, beautifully shot on 16mm. I personally can’t wait to hear the live score performed by The Cornish Sound Unit – it’s going to be awe-inspiring!
Nadifa Mohamed has written what is arguably the most important book about Cardiff in recent years with The Fortune Men, and her talk and the following celebration of Somali culture and heritage will be a highlight, I’m sure. The audience will also have a chance to ask questions and be part of a celebration of history, culture and performances from Welsh Somalilanders, curated and programmed by Zainab Nur.
On Sunday, visitors can also join Stone Club for the first screenings at Llais of A Year in A Field by BAFTA-winning documentary filmmaker Christopher Morris. A Year… is not made by a climate scientist: it is a local, lo-fi, low-impact film – in contrast to the overblown, blue-chip, carbon-generating film productions that fly the globe in pursuit of unfamiliar wonders to address the climate emergency through tech-driven cinematic dazzle.
I am also looking forward to presenting a unique, one-off performance alongside friends, exclusive to Llais, titled Tair Ton | Teyr Ton | Three Waves, spanning my three most recent albums Y Dydd Olaf, Le Kov, and the latest Mercury-shortlisted album Tresor.
There is so much going on at Llais this October and the team have worked so hard to curate an eclectic lineup spanning multiple genres and cultures for the fifth iteration of the festival.
Llais, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay, Tue 10-Sun 15 Oct.
Tickets: priced per event. Info: here
words GWENNO SAUNDERS