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Cerys Matthews asks the nation ahead of WOMEX 13, Cardiff: What is Wales?

Cerys Matthews asks the nation ahead of WOMEX 13, Cardiff: What is Wales?

With some 2,500 world music aficionados arriving into Wales in late October for WOMEX 13, the World Music Expo and Showcase Festival in Cardiff, Cerys Matthews, Artistic Director of the Opening Concert is asking the nation ‘what is Wales’ so that she and the team hosting the prestigious event, can give delegates a sense of Wales that is the people’s own.

"Lots of organisations and businesses are involved in promoting Wales, in projecting to the world a little of what we are. I want to ask the people of Wales what they think are the things that set us apart, that make this amazing country of ours unique."

Today, we’re calling on the people of Wales to get involved in the discussion, to go online to www.cerddcymru.com and go to the ‘What is Wales’ section to post a short message, just 140 characters or send a tweet using #whatiswales in English or #bedicymru in Welsh explaining what it is they think makes Wales special or defines it in some way.

Fourteen years after the YES vote for devolution, it’s a really great time to be asking this question, getting the conversation going. We’ve come a long way in terms of increasing our confidence as a nation and understanding who and what we are. Now what we really need to do is express it clearly to the world. I’m really excited to find out what the people think Wales is about.

We’ll be selecting the best 100 to show to our world music guests during WOMEX; projecting them at the Motorpoint arena during the day and at Wales Millennium Centre by night so that our international guests and music fans from across Wales and the UK can get to know this place a little better, from the people’s point of view."

We asked a few key people in Wales for their responses to ‘what is Wales’ in under 140 characters. Here are a few responses:

Eluned Haf, Head of Wales Arts International:

"A patchwork of localities, customs, lineage and traditions united by a love of singing."

John Rostron, Senior Manager Welsh Music Foundation:

"Wales is hills, running, music and ales."

WOMEX is the most important international market of world music and one of the most spectacular world music showcase festivals on the planet. This international fair brings together professionals from the worlds of folk, roots, ethnic and traditional music and also includes concerts, conferences and documentary films.

Over the whole five days of WOMEX, some 2500 delegates from 1250 companies, from across 100 countries and 300 national and international journalists come together in one city to network, do business, explore diverse music cultures, listen to 40 speakers in 20 conference sessions and music showcases by day. This part of WOMEX 13, Cardiff will be hosted at Motorpoint Arena.

A significant part of WOMEX is the International Showcase Festival of World Music. This runs over three consecutive nights and open to the public to enjoy 50 showcases of the very best curated selection of emerging talent from across the globe across 6 stages. This year, these will be held in and around Wales Millennium Centre, with DJ nights following on each night in Cardiff Bay.

Tickets for WOMEX International Showcase Festival are now on sale via the Wales Millennium Centre Box Office on 02920636464 or via the website www.wmc.org.uk. Price £17 in advance, £22 on the day. Those wishing to attend all three of the WOMEX Showcase Festival nights can purchase a three day ticket for £45 from the Wales Millennium Centre Ticket Office.

Cardiff beat stiff international competition to host the event in 2013 and showcase Wales’ music to the world. WOMEX will be held in the city between 23 – 27 October.

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 through the Major Events Unit.

To tweet your views of ‘What is Wales’, join the Twitter conversation from 23 August by using #whatiswales or in Welsh #bedicymru. Those who don’t use Twitter can contribute their 140 characters by logging onto www.cerddcymru.com and clicking through to the ‘What is Wales’ page. Contributions can be added in the comments section, and the twitter conversation can be followed on the live feed. The conversation on line will draw to a close at the end of September. 100 comments will be selected for projection at WOMEX events and it is hoped at other cultural venues across Wales between 23-27 October.

- ENDS –

For further information, please contact:

Angharad Wynne

Cerdd Cymru Communications Manager, Womex 13, Cardiff

07786256722 / Angharad@angharadwynne.com



Cerys Matthews is a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, author and broadcaster. She hosts a Sunday morning music show on BBC 6 Music and makes documentaries for television as well as BBC Radio 2 and 4.

Cerys has, since childhood, collected, sung and played traditional songs from Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England, and has gone on to share them with audiences worldwide. She remains an avid collector of songs from all over the globe.

Cerys is a columnist for the number one World music magazine 'Songlines', writes reviews and articles for the likes of The Guardian, The Times and Grazia, and is author of children's stories 'Tales From The Deep'. The follow up, 'Gelert, A Man's Best Friend', is due out in 2013.

2013 will also see the release on Penguin of 'Hook, Line and Singer' Cerys' collection of singalong classics including personal anecdotes and song histories. Song examples are 'Let's Go Fly A Kite', 'Oh Susannah,' and the 'Tra, La, La Song'.

She has written and presented documentaries on subjects as diverse as Cuba, the Mississippi river, Mahalia Jackson, Memphis Minnie, Hildegard Von Bingen, Blue Horizon (the iconic British blues label), Sacred Harp singing, the Greatest Try (rugby), WB Yeats, Dylan Thomas, Ted Hughes , shark and salmon fishing (Cerys even had a gardening column in Time Out during the 90's!).

Cerys played the Isle of Wight and Hay festival in 2012, the latter with a Woody Guthrie tribute show and collaborated with artists such as Arun Ghosh, Tunde Jegede, Attab Haddad, Frank Moon and the London Bulgarian Choir. 2012 also saw her play music from her acclaimed and popular selling collection of Welsh traditional songs 'TIR', with Ballet Cymru, ending in a show in Sadler's Wells, and a nomination for a Theatre Critics Awards 2012.

Her self produced and arranged Christmas album 'Baby, its Cold Outside' came out at the end of 2012 to much acclaim, recognised by the Sunday Times as an 'essential seasonal album'.

She was lead singer and songwriter for multi-million selling band Catatonia, and duets with Sir Tom Jones on perennial winter favourite 'Baby, Its Cold Outside'.

Cerys is Vice-President for Shelter Wales, is the Arts Ambassador for Linden Lodge – a Specialist Sensory and Physical College, and was a judge for the Dylan Thomas literary Prize, 2010, 2012 and 2013.


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