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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.” 16 Aug 2018


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.

First Minister Carwyn Jones AM was in Lorient to officially launch the Year of Wales, and said: "Wales' presence at this year's Lorient Festival was our strongest ever, not only in numbers, but in the quality of the performances. What struck me was the dynamism, the vibrancy and the confidence of our artists who were such wonderful ambassadors for Wales. It showed us at our best - looking outwards in a spirit of openness and exchange. Our presence in Lorient also further reinforced our relationship with Brittany and I was able to meet some senior Breton politicians to discuss how to develop our cooperation in a post Brexit era."
Headline performances included the Manic Street Preachers, and a welcome return for Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita who captivated the audience and critics with a breathtaking harmony of harp and kora from West Africa, supported by Breton legend Alan Stivell, who sang Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau with the Brittany Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Welshman Grant Llewellyn.

The programme featured VRï & Gwilym Bowen Rhys, Only Boys Aloud, Calan, Alaw, Rag Foundation, Robin Huw Bowen and Jamie Smith’s Mabon. The visual arts exhibition included work by photographer Mike Perry, ‘Môr Plastig’ (Plastic Sea)’, Helen Powell, ‘Beasts of the Mabinogi’ and a selection of past Gold Medal winners from ‘Y Lle Celf’, , alongside artists who have received the Ivor Davies award in the National Eisteddfod’s annual art exhibition.

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 is today’s traditional Welsh music, in bands like Calan who started here 10 years ago."

Festival Director Lisardo Lombardia said: "It’s fantastic to celebrate the Year of Wales with old friends and a fantastic new generation of Welsh artists who are proving so popular. Crowds here are really excited to see this new artistic direction as Lorient is a festival that is always looking to the future."

Voted ‘Delegate of the Year’, Antwn Owen-Hicks led the Welsh delegation and project managed the Welsh Government backed presence, with a Wales Pavilion selling famous Welsh beer brands and a programme of stage music throughout the 10 day marathon. The Welsh Pavilion was run by Cardiff-based production company Orchard Media and Events Group, who were also making a special programme about the Wales presence at this year’s festival for S4C, to be aired on September 11.

Victor Large, writing in Le Télégramme said: "Passionate, energetic and talented, the Welsh musicians lit up Lorient everywhere they played."

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