Wales Millennium Centre’s Festival of Voice was created to celebrate Wales’ timeless connection with song and the positive effects singing together can have on peoples’ wellbeing, whether participating or listening and observing. Rooted in the unique locations and community of our capital, it is the city’s first biennial international arts festival.
Over 10 days in June, we invited artists from as far away as the United States, South Africa, Mongolia, the Republic of Congo and Georgia, to join some of the UK’s most distinctive singers. Splicing up genres and opening up new collaborations, performances reflected the great versatility of the voice – from opera to jazz, hiphop to French chanson, visual experimentalism to choral singing.
Voice is something that transcends culture and language. It’s primal; it brings us together whether we’re happy or melancholy, and we have created the festival as a way of bottling that pure emotion. When you hear a great voice you project emotion onto what can be a deeply personal and intimate experience – this is somehow different from an instrumental performance, as we assume that what we hear is part of the performer, coming deep from within.
Festival of Voice 2016 was an opportunity for Wales to celebrate the thing it’s best known for: singing, but in a format that’s outward looking and that celebrates the future as well as the past, with International artists as well as local. With around 15,000 people from around the world taking part, the festival was an adventure for everyone. By venturing off the beaten track, people got to experience people joining together in celebration of the best of what it means to be human and existing alongside one another in the world, united through the purest form of expression.
Artistic Director, Wales Millennium Centre