Anna Lewis

Olion Byw

The folk band duos, Olion Byw were supported to collaborate with musicians at the Tagore House in Kolkata and perform the results at the Gorbhanga Festival.

Band member Dan Lawrence said of the visit: "The project was very successful in almost all of its objectives. The main objective was to collaborate with other international musicians. This was very successful- we did two full days of workshops in Kolkata where we exchanged ideas with about twelve local musicians from four or five bands. This was very educational and interesting for both us and them. At the Gorbhanga festival we engaged in organised workshops and informal improvisational sessions with the very well regarded Baul and Fakiri musicians. We were made very welcome and the collaborations occurred very naturally and created a lot of interest from spectators. We developed an understanding of their music and found new ways of blending in our own music and influences into the equation- the results were commented upon very positively by the spectators and by the press (we did four interviews, including two national papers).

Our second objective of performing Welsh music abroad was also met. We did a 90 minute performance at Tagore House in Kolkata. We performed at the opening ceremony of the Gorbhanga festival and also at the main Saturday evening event both as a duo and as part of a wider collaboration group with some of the musicians from the Kolkata workshops. The collaboration combined two Welsh folk songs with two Bengali folksongs.

We have gained an insight into a genre of music that we knew little about before and have learned a great deal from their approach to performance, which is heartfelt and very engaging even when you have very little understanding of lyrics. They sing with a deep understanding of humanity and spirituality and they communicate this very well, untainted by commercial ambitions. We too face this challenge of sincerely conveying emotion and meaning through a minority language, with the added burden of maintaining a public band persona and brand to mark you out from your peers in order to fulfil an ambition to be successful.

We have also learned a great deal about the processes involved in administering a project of this kind including funding applications, budgeting, visa applications, travel arrangements and working to deadlines."

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