Wales Millennium Centre has announced the first wave of artists for Llais 2023, its flagship international arts festival which will return to Cardiff from 11 to 15 October with a host of local and international acts for the fifth iteration of the annual festival.
Llais 2023 will once again activate the spaces around Wales Millennium Centre with an eclectic programme inspired by the instrument that connects us all – the voice. On Friday 13 October Llais 2023 will present Both Sides Now: Celebrating Joni Mitchell – an ode to the iconic performer featuring an incredible line-up of all female singers including Mercury Prize shortlisted icon Gwenno, multi-instrumentalist ESKA, Cardiff’s very own Charlotte Church and British singer Laura Mvula. The four formidable talents will be joined by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in a world first orchestral performance of Both Sides Now. On top of this, Bat for Lashes will also appear at Llais, performing iconic hits from her five albums which awarded her three Mercury Prize nominations. Also performing will be Welsh musician and festival co-curator Gwenno, who received the Welsh Music Prize for her 2014 album release Y Dydd Olaf and whose latest release Tresor (2022) was shortlisted for the Mercury Prize. Her retrospective performance will feature renditions from across all her acclaimed albums. The Unthanks will also host a special all-day event featuring concerts, participatory events and performances from their critically acclaimed albums The Bairns, Here’s The Tender Coming and Last. Artist and festival co-curator Gwenno Saunders said: “It has been such a joy to curate this year’s Llais. I’m a proud Cardiffian and that was always in the back of my mind when thinking of performers and artists to join us. Cardiff is made up of a rich tapestry of cultures and languages that makes the city unique and truly part of the world, and, particularly the Docks where Wales Millennium Centre is situated, defines so much of our identity as people of this city, and it was a celebration of this that I was aiming for. “My personal take on ‘the voice’ is that I define it as contributing to the conversation in the most radical way possible, in whichever way is best to the person who has something to say. When I think of artists who have inspired me, they have been radical thinkers who have left no stone unturned to reveal something new to us about ourselves. I hope this year’s Llais will inspire lasting conversations and most of all, be an utter pleasure for all who attend.” James Yorkston and Nina Persson, lead singer of the Cardigans, will also take to Hoddinott Hall to perform hits from their The Great White Sea Eagle album, which was produced alongside The Second Hand Orchestra and garnered a string of support.
Appearing on Saturday 14 October will be Portuguese fado singer and global icon Mariza who has seduced worldwide audiences with her remarkable singing, charismatic stage presence and powerful blend of traditional and contemporary song forms. Welsh trumpeter Tomos Williams will also perform his second showing of Riot! at Llais. Composed of internationally renowned musicians Soweto Kinch and Orphy Robinson, alongside Welsh vocalist Eädyth Crawford and a top-class rhythm section of Aidan Thorne and Mark O’Connor, the immersive Riot! performance will capture elements of jazz, hip-hop, Welsh folk music and the avant-garde, presented with live visuals from Simon Proffitt. Other acts on the Saturday include the volcanic power of Qawwali Flamenco who will blend the hypnotic lyricism of flamenco and qawwali vocal blends from Pakistan to Andalucia with Faiz Ali Faiz and Chicuelo. Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Angeline Morrison will also perform traditional folk songs exploring the Black British experience that folk has often overlooked.
The CD recording of Tomos William's Cwmwl Tystion II: Riot will be released on Ty Cerdd Records in October.
The 2023 festival line-up also include a performance from The Staves, an English indie folk trio of sisters with a back catalogue of four studio albums including critically acclaimed third studio album Good Woman. Expect a memorable set filled with heavenly ethereal harmonies alongside thought-provoking lyrics. There will also be a screening of the Mark Jenkin’s unsettling coastal chiller, Enys Men. The film is an endlessly mysterious folk horror tale, beautifully shot on 16mm. It will be performed by Jenkin himself and Dion Star, known under the banner of their collaborative music project The Cornish Sound Unit, who employ improvised and composed pieces using tape machines, analogue synths, feedback and field recordings.
From 25 September to 5 November, regular screenings of Battlescar: Punk Was Invented By Girls will run in Bocs within Wales Millennium Centre. The coming-of-age virtual reality (VR) film narrated by Rosario Dawson will transport viewers to 1970s New York into the grungy punk world of two teenage runaways. An accompanying exhibition celebrating the punk scene in Wales will run alongside the screenings.
There will also be a packed schedule of free workshops and events across every space of the Wales Millennium Centre, with further details to be announced in the coming months.
Wales Millennium Centre’s Artistic Director, Graeme Farrow said: “The façade of this building proudly displays the words ‘In These Stones Horizons Sing’. Voices will ring out in every space this October with a powerful, eclectic and diverse line-up from Cardiff, Wales and the world. It has been a thrill to work with Gwenno to create the programme, an artist with such a deep sense of how rich a festival which celebrates the voice can be in this part of her home city. We have plenty more line-up additions to follow soon and we can’t wait to reveal more.” New for this year, Llais will be launching ‘Pay What You Can‘ tickets where festivalgoers can apply for two events of their choice and pay what they can on a first come first served basis, reinforcing the fact the arts should be accessible to all.*
Llais tickets are now on sale at: