Elvis Costello and Angelique Kidjo join Patti Smith, Gruff Rhys, Passenger and Billy Bragg as headline music acts at this year’s Festival of Voice (7-17 June, across Cardiff). Elvis Costello & The Imposters (17 June) will close this year’s 11-day festival at Wales Millennium Centre, with the skilled wordsmith and unique vocalist covering everything from politics to love songs.
Beninese vocalist and activist, Angélique Kidjo (9 June), performs her latest project, a reinterpretation of the classic Talking Heads album ‘Remain in Light’. Well-known songs including Once in a Lifetime will be rearranged with electrifying rhythms, African guitars and layered backing vocals in a spectacular genre-bending presentation.
As well as headline music shows, the second announcement from Festival of Voice includes new multi-arts and theatre projects, commissioned especially for this year’s festival. Welsh experimental psych-pop artist Gwenno presents Edrica
Other female-led premieres created for Festival of Voice include: Welsh actress and singer Carys Eleri’s Lovecraft (from 5 June), a one-woman science-comedy musical looking at the scientific underpinnings of love and loneliness in our modern society; Highway One (from 5 June), directed by Mathilde López, a touching and absurdly funny tale of the tribulations of travel in search for meaning, featuring live performances from Katell Keineg including songs from her forthcoming album; Double Vision (from 6 June), a new thriller and multi-sensory inclusive experience inspired by Hitchcock and Lehman from Cardiff-based gig theatre specialists, Gagglebabble, featuring an original score from Lucy Rivers performed by a live band fronted by 9Bach’s Lisa Jên; and Camille O’Sullivan performs the songs of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds with Cave (12-13 June), a theatrical exploration of the dark and light of Nick Cave’s music from the enigmatic Irish singer story-teller.
Graeme Farrow, Artistic Director, Wales Millennium Centre and Festival of Voice said: “Women and song are at the heart of this year’s new commissions. They will move you, make you think, laugh, and even frighten you. You can’t see these shows anywhere else but in Cardiff and we are showcasing some of the extraordinary talent we have here in Wales. There is much to reflect upon in the world in 2018 so this year’s programme includes an opportune moment to protest together, to listen to debate and to get involved. The human voice is democratic, rich and wonderfully varied. I hope that experiencing and discovering the voices within this festival will be a life-affirming adventure and a celebration of the most beautiful instrument we share together.”
Festival of Voice is also inviting women (including those who identify as women or non-binary) and girls to raise their voices with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take part in PROCESSIONS, a mass participation artwork to celebrate one hundred years of votes for women. On Sunday 10 June, women and girls in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London will walk together, wearing either green, white or violet to represent the colours of the suffrage movement and standing for “Give Women Votes”. Produced by Artichoke and commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, PROCESSIONS will appear as flowing rivers of colour through the city streets, creating a living portrait of women in the 21st century (register from 8th March at processions.co.uk).
Graeme continues, “We’re incredibly excited to be working with Artichoke who make some of the most extraordinary and ambitious public art in cities around the world. This will be the first time they’ve brought one of their projects to Cardiff and we felt it was perfect timing to celebrate 100 years of suffrage during Festival of Voice and give the women of Wales an opportunity to come together, celebrate sisterhood and share their voices.”
Two of Wales’ national companies present brand new work. National Theatre Wales collaborate with Manchester-based theatre troubadours Quarantine on English (from 14 June), which looks at language, migration and identity. Made in Wales but with a global perspective, this performance pulls pop songs apart, tears grammar to pieces and invites all the languages in the room to be heard. The lead performer will be Cardiff-based actor and Deaf activist Jonny Cotse.
And Welsh National Opera tell the tale of a powerful voice from the past with Rhondda Rips It Up! (14 June) – featuring Lesley Garret as Emcee, the show tells the story of Margaret Haig Thomas (Lady Rhondda), the Newport suffragette whose activities paved the way for women’s rights. The following evening, WNO also present a concert conducted by Music Director Tomáš Hanus, featuring distinguished German soprano Angela Denoke with the WNO Orchestra (15 June), with a programme that includes Berlioz’s Summer Nights – one of the most magical of all orchestral song-cycles.
The festival’s music programme also features last year’s Welsh Music Prize winner, The Gentle Good (14 June), known for his intricate guitar playing and timeless folk melodies, supported by Ivan Moult, with special performances from both artists as they’re joined on stage by the Mavron Quartet. And Welsh multi-instrumentalist Ali Lacey aka Novo Amor supports Norwegian folk-songstress Susanne Sundfør (13 June) for an evening of compelling storytelling and arresting vocals.
Audiences can also look forward to powerful vocal displays from several international collectives including Reykjavíkurdætur (9 June), a 10-woman-strong rap collective from Iceland; A Filetta (8 June), a Corsican vocal group whose six members’ vocals soar and intertwine with three-part polyphonic songs; and Tank and The Bangas (8 June) bring their flawless marriage of rap, spoken word and neo-soul as one of the most distinctive groups to come out of New Orleans.
Vibes player and multi-instrumentalist Orphy Robinson presents Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks (10 June), bringing together some of the UK’s top jazz players to reinterpret Van Morrison’s 1968 masterpiece. And Atlantic Arc Orchestra (14 June) sees a vibrant collaboration of respected traditional musicians and singers from both the North and Republic of Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales.
A new Talks programme is being introduced this year in partnership with The Open University in Wales and will take place at Jacob’s Market, with a focus on ‘Women and War’ and ‘Expression and Communication.’
Chapter have also joined the festival as a programming partner, with shows and events in their theatre and studio spaces from independent record label Bubblewrap Collective (15 June), Cardiff-based artist Tim Bromage (10 June), prolific songwriter Jacob Wren (8-9 June), and Mouthpiece (14 June), a heart-wrenching and humorous journey into the female psyche from Toronto-based Quote Unquote Collective.
Plus, Festival of Voice has partnered with Learning Disability Wales to launch Gig Buddies, a befriending scheme that matches people with a learning disability with volunteers who share the same interests, so they can go to gigs together.
A further Festival of Voice announcement will be made on 10 April including a final music headliner, details on a Utopian building takeover curated by Charlotte Church at Wales Millennium Centre (Saturday 16 June), plus more unique, powerful and diverse voices from Wales and the world.
For tickets and further information, visit festivalofvoice.wales