KÃ¼nstler: Catrin Finch, Seckou Keita
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Vertrieb: DA Music
Catrin Finch und Seckou Keita stehen fÃ¼r Interviews via Telefon zur VerfÃ¼gung. Koordination via Marcel Westphal (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Welsh harpist Catrin Finch and Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita will release their much-anticipated second album SOARon 11thMay 2018 on the bendigedig label. The release will be followed by a Spring UK tour in April and May, supported on selected dates by singer-songwriter Gwyneth Glyn. Further festival and autumn dates are due to be announced shortly.
The new album takes flight on the wings of the osprey, the magnificent bird of prey recently returned to Wales after centuries of absence, which makes its annual 3,000-mile migration from the coasts of West Africa to the estuaries of Wales, soaring like music over man-made borders, an innate and epic journey of endurance.The release is the duoâ€™s first since their award-winning debut album Clychau Dibonwhich released in 2013. They have been touring the world ever since. SOARexplores themes of migration, and journeys â€“ both emotional and physical, and continues the duoâ€™s intrepid exploration and celebration of the parallels and differences between their two instruments and cultures.
SOAR continues the avian theme started in Clychau Dibon, highlighting another amazing connection between Wales and Senegal that has recently re-established itself. The opening track Clarach is namedafter the first Dyfi osprey in modern times to be born in Wales who subsequently returned from West Africa as an adult to rear her own chicks in the UK. Back in the Middle Ages, Wales had a large osprey population, but by the early 17th century it was persecuted to extinction. Their ancient presence proves that migration between Senegal and Wales is nothing new. â€œI like the birdâ€™s freedom to migrate to different places,â€ Seckou says. â€œThey soar their way, and nothing stops them, but they know where theyâ€™re heading, where theyâ€™ll find peace and be happy. Iâ€™ve been on the same journey, but in a different way.â€
Another track, TÃ©ranga Bah, touches on the importance of hospitality and welcoming strangers. TÃ©ranga means â€˜hospitalityâ€™ in Wolof, and Bah means â€˜greatâ€™ in Mandinka, both West African languages spoken by Seckou. So â€˜TÃ©ranga Bahâ€™ means â€˜great hospitalityâ€™. â€œFor Senegalese people, hospitality isnâ€™t just about being nice,â€ Seckou says. â€œItâ€™s a BIG ritualâ€¦Youâ€™ll find someone who doesnâ€™t have a penny to live on, but when a stranger arrives, theyâ€™ll do anything to make them feel happy and welcome.â€ In the song, Seckou sings the words â€œopen the gate, open the gateâ€. Heâ€™s urging the world to accept Senegalese hospitality and offer the same hospitality in return.
Yama Bais Catrin and Seckouâ€™s reinterpretation of a track written by Seckouâ€™s Uncle, Solo Cissokho in the 1990â€™s, in a mark of gratitude to a Fulani woman called Yama Ba who helped him to buy the equipment needed to amplify the kora. The heart of the piece is embodied in the melody played by Catrin, which was originally interpreted by bassist Kevin Willoughby who played with Solo back in the late 1990â€™s.
Other tracks featured include Bach to Baisso, the result of blending two highly revered pieces from two very different classical traditions. â€œThat aria [an excerpt from Bachâ€™s Goldberg Variations] is probably one of the most famous pieces of music out there,â€ says Catrin. â€œBach himself was someone who was always experimenting. Thatâ€™s the reason heâ€™s respected in the way he is.â€ Bach on the kora? â€œIâ€™m not sure itâ€™s ever been done before,â€ adds Seckou. â€œThe melody is fascinating, how the key changes go round and round, and I was curious because the kora is limited when it comes to playing those key changes. I needed to work on it, and I wanted to learn through Catrin.â€ Baisso is one of the oldest tune types in the Senegambian kora repertoire.
Themes of colonialization and enforced migration are explored in the track 1677, named after the year Vice-Admiral Jean II dâ€™EstrÃ©es stormed the Dutch fort on the Island of GorÃ©e off the coast of Senegal, and captured it in the name of his master, Louis XIV of France. The date marks the beginning of French rule in the region, and over the next century, GorÃ©e was to become one of the most infamous slave trading emporia on the west coast of Africa. â€œ[The piece] is kind of blues sounding, dancey, but also dark,â€ Seckou says. â€œThat sound, going back and forth between us, made me think about the rocking boat, about the people who could only express themselves through music, even over the waves.â€
â€œListen to the Grass Growis a gentle little idea for a song that I wrote a couple of years ago,â€ Catrin says. â€œJust two or three chords. It was the idea of lying down in a field and listening to life. I think music does that. Itâ€™s very, very, gentle, very peacefulâ€¦a little interlude of stillness.â€
Those who have seen the duo play live will recognise the electrifying piece Hinna Djulo. In Mandinka, hinna means â€˜soulâ€™ and djulo means â€™stringsâ€™; â€˜Soul Stringsâ€™. â€œItâ€™s a prime example of a piece that weâ€™ve been playing since the beginning,â€ Catrin says. â€œOver the last three or four years itâ€™s morphed into this really brilliant song. Every time we kept playing it, we played it slightly differently. Weâ€™d add something, and itâ€™s become such a charged piece now.â€
Cofiwich Drywerynwas written by Catrin to commemorate one of the defining moments in Welsh political history. The words mean â€˜remember Trywerynâ€™ and theyâ€™re daubed on a wall (now a protected national monument) next to the A487 between Cardigan and Aberystwyth. The graffiti laments the flooding of the Tryweryn valley in north Wales in 1965 to create the Llyn Celyn reservoir that supplied water to the city of Liverpool. The Welsh-speaking village of Capel Celyn was abandoned to the waters, its inhabitants forced to leave their homes. The anger felt in Wales lead to huge protests, acts of sabotage and a rise in support for Plaid Cymru and other Welsh nationalist groups. â€œI wrote this piece a long time ago,â€ Catrin says. â€œThe Welsh language was disappearing fast. It wasnâ€™t being taught in schools, and then this happened and fuelled everybodyâ€™s anger. It was an iconic moment.â€
Drawing deep on their own diverse traditions and transforming them with remarkable synergy, Catrin and Seckou have built a formidable reputation for extraordinary performances over the past four years. Entrancing, mesmeric, intricate and ethereal, this critically acclaimed and multi award-winning collaboration between two adventurous virtuoso musicians delivers a stunning exhibition of world-class musicianship and a thrilling live experience.
The release date for SOARwill be marked by a special intimate performance for just 45 people at the Observatory at the Dyfi Osprey Centre near Machynlleth in mid Wales. All proceeds from this event will be donated to the Dyfi Osprey Centre to support the work of the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust.
The tour will take in dates in Laugharne, Machynlleth, Truro, Bangor, Cardigan, Cardiff, Milton Keynes, London, Sheffield, Bangor, Swansea, Bath, Hay Festival, Derby, Brighton and Swaledale – visit catrinfinchandseckoukeita.com for details.
The tour is produced by Theatr Mwldan mwldan.co.uk, and SOARwill release on the 11thMay on bendigedig, a label partnership between ARC Music Productions International Ltd and Theatr Mwldan â€“ seebendigedig.org for further information.
â€œoh my God, incredibleâ€¦ youâ€™re witnessing a state of rapture, itâ€™s entrancingâ€Toby Jones, actor
â€œAbsolutely hypnotic”Guy Garvey, BBC 6 Music
“intricate, ethereal and entrancing, an elaborate pas-de-deux… remarkable” Â Neil Spencer, UNCUT Magazine *****
â€œa sublime duo of two artists who are masters of their instruments…musicality and architecture at workâ€Â Â Simon Broughton, London Evening StandardÂ *****
Catrin Finch Seckou Keita â€“ “SOARâ€œ/ VÃ–: 11.05.2018
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