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Festival of Voice could transform capital of the land of song

A 10-DAY music spectacular this summer could start to transform Cardiff into an international festival venue to rival Edinburgh.

The Festival of Voice event, launched yesterday, is produced by the Wales Millennium Centre and will take place from June 3 to June 12.

A host of Welsh talent such as Charlotte Church, Bryn Terfel, John Cale, Georgia Ruth, Gwyneth Glyn, Scritti Politti and Gwenno, with major new productions from National Theatre Wales, Welsh National Opera and Patrick Jones.

The new biennial international arts festival aims to transform Cardiff into one of Europe’s major festival centres. It wants to rival the Edinburgh International Festival, Manchester International Festival, the Holland Festival and Festival d’Avignon.

Festival of Voice will have opportunities for all ages and styles of music with differing levels of experience. It will feature over 12,000 participants across 78 performances over the 10 days.

Event director Graeme Farrow said: “Wales takes pride in singing above all. We wanted to take this tradition as far forward as we could, scattering the sheer joy of it across the horizons of Cardiff and inviting the world to come and sing with us and to share emotion through the purest form of human and artistic expression.

“We are focused on trying to provide experiences that people will travel to Cardiff from afar to see – such as Rufus Wainwright’s only UK date this year so far, and a once in a lifetime opportunity to see Juliette Gréco.”

Rufus Wainwright's only UK tour date is at the festival

Rufus Wainwright’s only UK tour date is at the Cardiff festival

From international stars to home-grown talent, the festival offers the full range. Welsh choirs and solo artists will take the stage alongside stars from overseas to boost the profile of Welsh music.

Mr Farrow was also keen to highlight the range and quality of Welsh talent. “We want to ensure that the festival celebrates the breadth of Wales’ rich musical landscape”, he said.

As well as singers, the event will include many theatre and arts works. Some of the projects commissioned are The Last Mermaid, La Voix Humaine, Before I Leave, Opera for the Unknown Woman, Ffatri Vox, Choir Clock and Lawrence Abu Hamdan.

David Alston, arts director of the Arts Council of Wales, said this festival is just the type of large-scale event missing from a country characterised as the land of song.

“We know this is going to be a festival with so many expressive and arresting dimensions to it, animating different parts of the city and involving people in an amazing celebration,” he said.

The festival will spread the event across Wales’s capital. Venues which will hold events include Wales Millennium Centre, Chapter, St David’s Hall, New Theatre, Tramshed, Sherman Cymru and smaller city venues. A pop-up club at Wales Millennium Centre will launch at the festival.

The festival looks to celebrate Wales’s heritage as ‘the land of song’ and its profound tradition of choral singing and stream of world famous vocal artists.

The programme aims to create a new kind of festival using all forms of vocal expression: opera alongside grime, musical theatre alongside rock, cabaret alongside gospel and swing alongside a cappella choral music.

Velvet Underground’s John Cale, with ensemble and chorus, will open the festival on June 3, supported by last year’s Welsh Music Prize winner, Gwenno.

Bryn Terfel will be performing three times at the festival

Bryn Terfel will be performing three times at the festival

Highlighting this music genre mash-up is Van Morrison, who will be joined by Welsh opera singer Bryn Terfel on June 7. Bryn himself will be performing at two concerts at Llandaff Cathedral.

Festival of Voice is in collaboration with Serious, Welsh National Opera, National Theatre Wales, Artes Mundi and other venues and organisations across Cardiff. It is supported by The Colwinston Trust, Arts Council Wales, Cardiff City Council and private donations.

International artists confirmed for the event are:

Rufus Wainwright, Juliette Gréco, Laura Mvula, Ben Folds, Ronnie Spector, Les Mystere des Voix Bulgares, Femi Kuti, Mbongwana Star, Hugh Masekela, Juliet Kelly, Sianed Jones, Jamie Woon, Flavia Coelho, Scritti Politti & Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip), Mariza, Lera Lynn, Woman’s Hour, yMusic, Fatima, House Gospel Choir, Candi Staton, Anna Calvi, The Hot Sardines, Keaton Henson, Rustavi Voices of Georgia, Anne Carrere and Amartuvshin Enkhbat.

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