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The Gentle Good wins Welsh Language Album of the Year Prize.

The Gentle Good wins Welsh Language Album of the Year Prize.

11/08/2014

The Gentle Good has won the inaugural Welsh Language Album of the Year Prize at the 2014 National Eisteddfod in Carmarthenshire. The Gentle Good’s album, Y Bardd Anfarwol (‘The Immortal Bard’), released by Bubblewrap Records, was selected from a shortlist of 10 prominent albums by a panel of industry adjudicators for the new award.

The album was inspired by Gareth Bonello’s six week residency and ongoing collaboration with the Chengdu region of China in 2011, supported by Wales Arts International, the British Council and PRS for Music Foundation. Inspired and encouraged to focus his ambition to write new music and build international relationships, Bonello sought inspiration in the folk heritage alive across the two nations to fuse the two; experimenting with new instruments, scales and musical forms drawn from both cultures. Bonello returned to China in 2012 to play at the Big Love Chengdu Music Festival, performing solo at the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing.

Bonello used the album to tell the story of legendary Tang-dynasty poet, Li-Bai, whose work has been widely translated and receives global recognition: "Bai’s poems contain the same elements as the melancholic Welsh folk songs that I sing. They can be bleak, with lots of loneliness and sorrow, not to mention the sort of nature imagery I love to use in my own lyrics. I like to think of it as a kind of cross-continental, multicultural concept album."

Y Bardd Anfarwol positions itself as a Welsh concept album, the notion of which began with Endaf Emlyn’s Salem some 40 years ago. True to its roots, the album is written exclusively in the Welsh language and takes heavy influence from the traditional Welsh form of the ‘Hen Benilion’.

Collaborating with prominent musicians and artists, The Gentle Good experimented with musicians from the Chengdu Associated Theatre of Performing Arts, The Mavron String Quartet, the UK Chinese Orchestra, Llion Robertson, Seb Goldfinch, Callum Duggan, Richard James, Lisa Jen Brown, Laura J Martin and Daniel Lazenby.

Bonello comments: "It is my hope that the album will contribute significantly to the arts in Wales by inspiring our artists to look beyond the border and to engage with other cultures and artists from across the Globe. Hopefully it will inspire people to be bold and will help to broaden the ever-expanding range of musical styles available in the Welsh language.

Guto Brychan, one of the organisers of the Welsh Language Album of the Year Prize, said: "Thank you to everyone who took part in the discussions this year. The wide ranging shortlist shows there is room for this award, as a large number of albums captured the imagination of the jury. It's hard to think of any other award with an album of ‘dub’ music on the same shortlist as a cerdd dant album!"

The 10 albums that made the shortlist for the first Welsh Language Album of the Year Prize were:

· Alaw – Melody

· Bromas – Byr Dymor (Rasp)

· Candelas

· DnA – Adnabod (Fflach:Tradd)

· Gildas – Sgwennu Stori (Sbrigyn Ymborth)

· Gwenan Gibbard – Cerdd Dannau (Sain)

· Llwybr Llaethod – Dub Cymraeg (Neud Nid Dued)

· Plu (Sbrigyn Ymborth)

· The Gentle Good – Y Bardd Anfarwol (Bubblewrap Records)

· Yr Ods – Llithro (Copa)

Further information: https://www.eisteddfod.org.uk/english/2014/welsh-language-album-of-the-year/

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