Wales’ most celebrated harpist, Catrin Finch has joined forces with the Senegalese kora virtuoso Seckou Keita to record ‘Clychau Dibon’, an album of unique instrumentals that blend the Manding music of West Africa and the ancient melodies of Wales.
Together, Finch and Keita have risen to the tough challenge of blending two completely different musical cultures and creating something sublime, coherent, relevant and entirely new.
Catrin Finch is a star in the world of classical music and widely recognised as one of the world’s finest harpists. A nominee for a Classical Brit Award, she has performed with orchestras all over the globe (including the Royal Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic and the Boston Pops) and was the first Royal harpist to HRH Prince of Wales in modern times.
Seckou Keita has performed around the world a solo artist, a bandleader and a collaborator with Baka Beyond and the Jalikunda Project. He’s a master of both the kora and a wide range of west Africa drums and percussion instruments. He set up the first kora course at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies and his teaching skills are highly prized.
‘Clychau Dibon’ represents the first fruit of Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita’s much-anticipated summit of strings. ‘Clychau’ is the welsh word for ‘Bells’, and alludes to the heavenly peels that feature on the album. The Dibon is a member of the hornbill family which lives in the Northern tributaries of the River Niger in Guinea and the Sahel of Sub-Saharan Africa. A romantic bird, the Dibon pairs for life, but males and females spend the night sleeping in separate trees; early in the morning call to each other, the male using the lower notes and the female higher ones. So compelling and distinctive are the calls of the Dibon, that they have worked their ways into the rhythms of many of the local traditional hunting and farming songs, giving rise to the Mandinka rhythm ‘Dibon’, and the name for the second bass string of the left hand side of the Kora.
The harp occupies a vital place in the incredibly rich cultures of both West Africa and Wales and, remarkably, both nations share a centuries-old bardic tradition of intricate oral history, expressed through music, song and verse. The remarkable affinities between the harp and the kora as well as the Welsh and West African cultures from which they have emerged are fused on this album into a single intensely inspiring river of music.
released 13 October 2013
The album is produced by John Hollis, engineered by Owen Shiers and recorded in Wales.. This co-production is another project from the stable of Theatr Mwldan and Astar Artes.
The project is supported by the Welsh Government and the Arts Council of Wales, and by Arts Council England.