This project is a stunning shared musical journey between two world class virtuosos – Welsh harpist Catrin Finch and West African kora player Seckou Keita.
From Casamance in Senegal, Seckou Keita is both a member of the royal Keita dynasty from Mali (through his father), and a griot, a traditional West African praise singer (through his mother’s family, the Cissokhos, from Senegal). He has built a formidable reputation as “an inspired exponent of the kora”(The Guardian) and is “a brilliant live performer with stacks of charisma” (Lucy Duran, Radio BBC3).
One of the leaders of the newest generation of African traditional musicians, Seckou combines his own musical heritage with a willingness to embrace the traditional forms and instruments of other cultures, and has already blended his kora (21-stringed West African harp) with jazz, funk, rock, Indian classical and all manner of other musical styles.
Harpist Catrin Finch is one of Wales’ leading international musical ambassadors, and one of the world’s finest players of this most Welsh of instruments. The “Queen of Harps”, Catrin was Royal Harpist to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales from 2000-2004. Her concert appearances with the world’s top orchestras span the globe and she has worked alongside artists such as Bryn Terfel, Sir James Galway and Julian Lloyd-Webber. Hot on the heels of her innovative collaborations with Cimarron from Colombia and Toumani Diabaté from Mali, Catrin Finch is once again proving her radical and adventurous musical spirit with this wedding of Welsh and West African musical culture.
The harp occupies a vital place in the incredibly rich cultures of both Senegal and Wales. The West African harp – the kora – played by Seckou is made from a dried gourd and fishing line; the Welsh harp, played by Catrin, is one of the most iconic symbols of a nation steeped in music. Remarkably, both nations share a centuries-old bardic tradition of intricate oral history, expressed through music, song and verse.
The couple were brought together by producers Theatr Mwldan and Astar Artes, who have collaborated on a number of successful productions over the years.
2013 was an amazing year for Welsh harpist Catrin Finch and Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita. Winners of the prestigious fRoots Album Of The Year for their debut album Clychau Dibon, nominated for two BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for Best Duo and Best Traditional Track, and featured in Songlines Magazine Top Ten Albums of 2013, the sky is indeed the limit for this fearless pair of virtuoso musicians whose ‘heavenly music…intricately realised’ (Songlines Magazine) and infectious onstage chemistry defies categorisation and continues to merge the boundaries between the genres of classical, world, folk and traditional music.
2014 is set to be an even bigger year for the duo, with major UK tours in May and October, and a string of UK and international festivals lined up for the summer. 2014 has already seen them guest alongside Eliza Carthy, Spiro, Olivia Chaney and Chris Wood at fRoots 35th anniversary celebrations at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on London’s Southbank in March.
Their debut album Clychau Dibon was released in October 2013, and has attracted huge critical acclaim and a clutch of 4 and 5 star reviews from National and Industry press:
“intricate, ethereal and entrancing, an elaborate pas-de-deux… remarkable”
Neil Spencer, UNCUT Magazine
“a sublime duo of two artists who are masters of their instruments…musicality and architecture at work”
Simon Broughton, London Evening Standard *****
“remarkable…an elegant, gently exquisite set”
Robin Denselow, The Guardian ****
Don’t miss your chance to see one of the most blissful and exciting music collaborations ever to come out of Wales. Click here to find a performance near you.
Read more about the origins of this remarkable project: