April’s edition of these wholesome monthly roundups was titled “spring into summer 2021”, and effectively that’s what this one is too, but if we called it the same thing it would be confusing. Either way, enjoy this grab-bag of Welsh cultural announcements, launches and suchlike.
This Cardiff-based arts collective have been much admired for their efforts in advocating for the variously marginalised over the last few years, with lockdown-era activities including this month’s online symposium, The Sound Of Capital Being Grounded. Their nomination for 2021’s Turner Prize, possibly the best-known art award in Britain and one of the more divisive, nevertheless came out of left field. Gentle/Radical are one of five UK art organisations to be nominated, the Turner judges shifting the focus from previous years on account of being largely unable to view art in person. All five collectives will show work in Coventry for two months before the winner is announced on Wed 1 Dec.
Found in the heart of Cardiff’s Splott district, Railway Gardens is an ongoing project which launched in 2015 with the aim of developing a neglected area of land into something beneficial to the local community at large. Green Squirrel, a sustainability-focused non-profit also located in Splott, has orchestrated its development, and was given a major boost this month with the award of National Lottery funds to the very exact tune of £460,808. The plans are to spend this windfall variously on facilities, an events programme and employing extra staff. [Railway Gardens community work pictured, top – credit Matthew Horwood]
One of the flagship events in the Welsh classical calendar, this annual-apart-from-2020-of-course operatic vocal competition returns in its regular mid-June slot, and again in the sonically gracious expanse of St David’s Hall. The only thing missing will be a live audience, but the whole thing will be available to watch on the BBC, catch up with on their iPlayer, or listen to on radio. Sixteen singers [pictured, below], aged from 26 to 32, compete for the Song Prize award in addition to the CSOFW gong itself, and variously hail from Kosovo, Madagascar, Korea and even Wales (soprano Sarah Gilford).
“Street food” = street food. “Teras” = terrace. This linguistic knowledge should provide you with everything you need to know about Street Food Teras, but just to be sure we’ll add that it will open on Fri 28 May and stay in situ all summer; be found directly adjacent to the Wales Millennium Centre; is the result of a teamup between them and local grub truck pros Street Food Warehouse; and shall maintain a consistently changing rota of companies, with Artisan Desserts, Greek Flavours, Queen Pepiada and 3 Amigos the ones currently listed on the SFT website.
June is the designated Pride month, and in-person retail therapy is back on the menu, so for all 30 days of next month some 15 independent makers and sellers who identify as LGBTQ+ will be selling their wares in a Queer Emporium – aka a unit in the city centre’s Royal Arcade. The brainchild of candle maker Yan White, some stallholders may already be known to Cardiff residents, including Pettigrew Bakeries – no news on the enlisting of a butcher to complete the classic trinity, but punters will be treated to the likes of Gays Who Wine, queer bookshop Paned O Gê, and organic clothes and glitter from Rhetorik.
Another product of Lottery funding, in addition to Arts Council Of Wales on this occasion, Representing Wales: Developing Writers Of Colour is a 12-month scheme (actually in place since March of this year, but only announced at the end of April) in which a dozen Wales-based writers are given support, both financial and mentored, to develop their skills. The aim is to increase the diversity of the Welsh literary, playwriting and screenwriting scenes – “address existing barriers within the sector” as they put it – and will give each selected writer £2,000 to aid development.
Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff – which recently turned 50, while deprived of the chance to have a proper birthday kneesup – is hosting its first theatrical production since last March from Fri 28-Mon 31 May. Hoof! is co-credited to Theatr Iolo and Kitsch N Sync, bills itself as a family-friendly adventure for ages four and up, and will take place outdoors at the rear of Chapter’s building, as per The Rules. Viewing the performance, which is about a trio of baby deer who attempt to reopen an abandoned theatre, is to be done on a family bubble basis, for groups of six or fewer.
Pembrokeshire company Span Arts set their course eastward on Sat 29 May, visiting Ceredigion’s Lampeter House for an outdoor daytime concert. A trio [pictured, above] featuring mezzo soprano Rebecca Afonwy-Jones, tenor Thomas Elwin and harpist Elfair Grug Dyer, plus accompanying pianist Jonathan Lyness, will perform three shows at 2, 3.30 and 5pm, with crowds limited to 26 each time. It’s one of a series of al fresco summer concerts devised by Mid Wales Opera, with two more on Sat 5 June (SpArC, Bishops Castle – actually in England, but they can’t arrest you or owt) and Sun 6 June (The Magic Lantern, Tywyn).
Each Monday of May so far has seen the release, via YouTube, of a segment of Llandaff Cathedral Choral Society’s rendition of Jazz Missa Brevis, with the full 15-minute performance to be offered up on Mon 31 May. This is a composition by Welsh-Scottish artist Iain James Veitch, written for choir and – as the title suggests – a jazz piano trio, although Veitch suggests that jazz purists might debate whether it’s a strict example of the form. LCCS members recorded their parts in isolation at home before these were mixed into an actual chorus by sleight of technological hand.
Mold’s favourite sons and daughters of shoegazey grunge are to release their latest LP Into The Blue on the Hassle label in late summer. Its 11 songs are, say the trio, “about opening your eyes to beauty and love again,” adding that this inadvertently turned out as “a metaphor for the times we all live in now”. (By this metric it might be harder to write a song which isn’t a metaphor for the times we all live in now.) Into The Blue was written in north Wales but recorded in Utah, where vocalist Ritzy Bryan has lived for several years.
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