An innovative folk music project has been picked for the finals of the National Lottery Awards. 10 Mewn Bws (10 In A Bus) is the only music project in the Arts category.
The project took ten young musicians – some folkies, some from other musical genres – introduced them to some of Wales’ greatest tradition bearers and to the sound archives of the National Library and St Fagans National History Museum, and challenged them to compose and arrange an album of Welsh folk music for the 21st century. The resulting CD and tour have been critically acclaimed, leading to appearances at Swn and at the Hay Festival, supporting Cerys Matthews. The 10 Mewn Bws project, which was funded by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of Wales, was run by trac, the folk arts development organisation for Wales. Listen to the album below:
The project was plucked from over 750 entries to go into the public vote to decide the winners of this year’s National Lottery Awards – the annual search for the UK’s favourite Lottery-funded projects. Danny KilBride, Director of trac explained the rational behind 10 Mewn Bws,
“Wales has an unbroken cultural DNA strand to music, myth and cultural traditions dating back to the 6th century if not earier. All of us in Wales can be incredibly proud of that. Many of our music traditions are unique to us, and now that we’re telling the world about them, and spreading our music far and wide across the globe, a part of the industry’s focus has to be on developing the next generation of talented music tradition bearers. It was with this in mind that 10 Mewn Bws was born.”
10 Mewn Bws was launched in the late summer of 2013 with a search for ten budding folk musicians from different backgrounds. Musician and trac Project Officer, Angharad Jenkins led the project, which was inspired by EFDSS’ Cecil Sharp Project. She explained,
“10 Mewn Bws aimed to reinterpret and demystify traditional Welsh folk music by enabling these ten musicians to research their musical roots and reinterpret traditional Welsh music in ways that were relevant to them and today’s audiences.”
Ten musicians were selected and put on a bus together to travel around Wales researching, writing new music, collaborating with each other, recording and performing to communities across the length and breadth of the land. During that time, they visited sound archives at St Fagans Folk Museum; plundered the National Library of Wales’ music collections; met some of Wales’ leading ‘tradition bearers’ and ethnomusicologists and spent a week at Ty Newydd writer’s centre in Llanystumdwy, working together to interpret and reinterpret the traditional material they’d gathered along the way.
The outcome of the project funded by The National Lottery and The Arts Council of Wales, was a whole album of newly arranged and composed work, released by trac and Sain Records in October 2012. They toured venues across Wales, bringing their music to communities far and wide, and introducing new audiences to Wales’ music traditions, and concluded at Swn Festival in Cardiff before heading to WOMEX the World Music Showcase held in the City last October, to promote our music traditions to the world.
The musicians recall the project as a ‘life changing experience.’ One of them, Mari Morgan said:
“I learnt things that have changed the course of my life. I’ve started an MA course at Bangor University to look at traditional Welsh music, which is a direct outcome of my experiences during the week on the bus. It was an honour to be part of this valuable and unique experience.”
Another participant, Francesca Simmons commented: “The highlight for me was being able to access Welsh culture in a way that I have never been able to, as a non-Welsh speaker…. Most of this was an unseen world to me and it has been fascinating.”
Despite the project officially coming to an end in October 2013, the musicians just couldn’t turn down an invitation from Cerys Matthews to join her for a performance at Hay Festival 2014. They performed there to an audience of 1000, and then took to the road again, bringing traditional and contemporary folk music once more to communities across the nation and introducing new audiences to Wales’ music traditions.
Voting opens on Wednesday 25 June. To vote for 10 Mewn Bws, please go to www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards or telephone 0844 836 9670 and follow the campaign on twitter: #NLAwards. Voting runs for four weeks from 9am on Wednesday 25 June until midnight on Wednesday 23 July.
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