‘Ghazalaw’ at Cardiff

WOMEX announced the first much anticipated, prestigious list of international artists selected to showcase at WOMEX 13, hosted in Cardiff this year between 23 and 27 October. The competition for the career making public showcase slots was intense, with over 850 applications from world music groups and musicians worldwide for the 60 showcase slots. It’s an impressive line up of some of the best emerging world music talent on the planet, and heading the line up of WOMEX World Music Showcases is Wales’s own singer-songwriter, Gwyneth Glyn. She will perform a set from ‘Ghazalaw’, a new collaboration with Indian Ghazal singer Tauseef Akhtar.

Indian Ghazal singer Tauseef Akhtar and  Gwyneth Glyn
Indian Ghazal singer Tauseef Akhtar and Gwyneth Glyn

‘Ghazalaw’ is a fusion of Welsh folk songs and Indian ghazal, an ancient poetic form originating in 6th-century Arabic verse. In this way it shares much with the ancient, tight-metered poetic form, that is such a feature of Welsh poetry and songs. As the project has developed, Gwyneth and Tauseef have been joined by other musicians including the talented Georgia Ruth Williams on harp and support vocals and Indian musicians Ashish Jha, Manas Kumar and Sanjoy Das. Gwyneth and Tauseef were introduced at Hafod Mastering’s roundhouse in St Hillary, the Vale of Glamorgan last year, and returned there to record the album earlier this year. The project was developed through support by Wales Arts International. Ghazalaw is sponsored by Air India.

 Speaking of his delight at being selected to showcase, Tauseef Akhtar said:”Ghazals have finally evolved from mehfil’s to the world music platform, I am humbled to be part of ‘Ghazalaw’, which has been selected to showcase at WOMEX 13 Cardiff, Wales. It is a groundbreaking achievement not just for me but also for the genre of ghazal itself. Never before has ghazal been combined with something like Welsh folk music.

Gywneth Glyn has been a wonderful musician and singer to work with. Her talent and persona inspired us all to take ‘Ghazalaw’ where it is now. I am so looking forward to performing at Womex 13, it will be a memorable milestone in the journey of my career.” In response to the news, Gwyneth Glyn said: “We’re thrilled to have been chosen as one of WOMEX’s official 2013 showcase acts. It will be such a privilege to perform alongside world-class musicians from across the globe.

As the seed of our music was sown at the Round House, Saint Hilary, only a stone’s-throw from where WOMEX will take place, it seems very fitting that this is where our harvest should be shared with the world. Our music celebrates the affinity between the Welsh folk tradition and Indian ghazal singing. We can’t wait to bring our unique sound onto the world stage.”

The huge task of distilling the best music from around the globe into 60 showcases is given each year to seven world experts in the field. WOMEX call these the ‘Seven Samurai’, and it is their task to listen to each submission, read every bid and take decisions that can virtually launch a musician or band’s international career. This year, Cerdd Cymru Director and Chairman of Welsh Music Foundation Alan James who runs his own music management organisation, Hold Tight Management was the Samurai selected to represent the host territory. He said: “It was a great honour to be invited to chair the jury for WOMEX 13 in Cardiff. Five of us gathered from all corners of the globe to listen and look at a record number of world music artists. We finally got our showcase, and we think it’s world class!”

There were 58 applications for Showcases made by Welsh musicians, a much higher percentage than ever before. Three additional Welsh artists will showcase on the local stage,  “Horizons” – a name inspired by Gwyneth Lewis’ famous words on the Wales Millennium Centre façade.  Horizons is a new music partnership between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales to celebrate the wealth of music traditions and cultures of these regions within a world music market. The Horizon’s partnership will present 9 showcases over 3 nights, featuring 3 artists from Wales, as the host nation, and two from each other partner nation. Horizons stage announcement is expected in July. The Horizon Stage forms one of the 5 stages of the WOMEX World Music.

The first international showcases announced by WOMEX are:

  • April Verch Band (Canada)
  • Aysenur Kolivar (Turkey) 
  • Cumbia All Stars (Peru)
  • Debademba (Mali/Burkina Faso/France)
  • Ebo Taylor (Ghana)
  • Emily Portman Trio (England, UK)
  • FanfaraÔ (Algeria/Morocco/France)
  • Flamenco ElÈctrico (Spain)
  • Ghazalaw (India/Wales, UK)
  • Grupo Bongar (Brazil)
  • Guillaume Perret & The Electric Epic (France)
  • Horomona Horo / Waiora (New Zealand)
  • Shangaan Electro (South Africa)
  • Stelios Petrakis Quartet (Greece)
  • Su:m (South Korea)
  • Teta (Madagascar)

More Showcases are expected soon.

The international WOMEX showcases will be presented over three nights, Thursday 24, Friday 25 and Saturday  October, across 5 stages within Wales Millennium Centre and the Oval Basin. A ticket provides music fans young and old with a round the world music experience, and the chance move around, taste the music cultures from each corner of the globe, and experience some truly international virtuosic performances. Tickets for the WOMEX World Music Showcases are £17 in advance and £22 on the day. If you wish to attend all three of the World Music Showcases you can purchase a three day ticket for £45 from the Wales Millennium Centre Ticket Office. A limited number of concession tickets are available in advance for Students and Over 60s. WOMEX 13 Cardiff is hosted by Cerdd Cymru: Music Wales. This is a partnership between Arts Council of Wales/ Wales Arts International and Welsh Music Foundation. WOMEX 13 Cardiff project partners are Cardiff Council, Motorpoint Arena and Wales Millennium Centre. WOMEX 13 Cardiff is supported by Welsh Government and British Council .

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