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Return of international arts festival to celebrate best new music in Wales

31 Aug 2023 7 minute read
Wales Millennium Centre underwater. Picture by Daisy Lowe

Wales Millennium Centre has today announced the second wave of artists and performances for Llais 2023, its flagship international arts festival.

The festival will return to Cardiff from 10 – 15 October and will once again activate the spaces around Wales Millennium Centre with an eclectic programme inspired by musical voices.

The festival will open  with the Welsh Music Prize ceremony, a highly coveted celebration of the best new music in Wales and a chance to champion the finest albums made over the past 12 months.

Following the success of last year, Llais 2023 will once again play host to the prestigious awards ceremony, welcoming multiple live performances across the evening, showcasing some of the very best in new music from Wales.

The winner of this year’s highly esteemed Welsh Music Prize will also be announced.

This year’s Welsh Music Prize longlist includes the latest albums from Llais alumni John Cale (‘Mercy’) and Gruff Rhys (‘The Almond & The Seahorse’).


Welsh Music Prize co-founder, Huw Stephens said: “We are really looking forward to returning to the iconic Wales Millennium Centre. The Welsh Music Prize is all about championing the great albums from Wales every year, and hosting the ceremony at Wales Millennium Centre makes it a truly special evening. We look forward to revealing the shortlist soon!”

On Friday 13 October, BBC Introducing and BBC Horizons / Gorwelion (a scheme delivered by BBC Cymru Wales in partnership with the Arts Council of Wales) will join forces with Llais to bring a spectacular line-up of exciting emerging local artists and special live collaborations for this year’s BBC Introducing Live in Cardiff.

Local artists and bands confirmed include L E M F R E C K, NOOKEE and Source.

Senior Producer at BBC Horizons / Gorwelion, Bethan Elfyn said: “This is going to be a wonderful celebration of music communities coming together, an evening to see ideas breathe, and souls sing, and musicians raising their game in a creative offering that I’m sure will blow us away.

“Thanks to the team at Llais for seeing something that was a small seed, and nurturing the idea, letting it grow and develop organically from the musicians themselves, I’m so grateful that we can facilitate and be part of that journey.”

Newport venue The Cab will present a stacked lineup of raw DIY punk rock, making a shift from the sweaty small clubs and basements of south Wales to the bright lights of Wales Millennium Centre. Running alongside this from 25 September will be regular screenings of the coming-of-age VR film Battlescar: Punk was Invented by Girls in Bocs, and Wasteland of My Fathers, an accompanying exhibition by Cardiff Music History celebrating the punk scene in Wales.


English indie rock band The Big Moon will make their Llais debut with performances from their debut Mercury Prize-shortlisted album Love in the Fourth Dimension, and the folk-inspired Richard Dawson returns to Cardiff for a special solo performance after the release of his latest album The Ruby Cord last year.

Flight of the Phoenix will be the world premiere of a new presentation of music inspired by the life and times of Abey Mirza, a legendary Hazara female vocalist from Afghanistan, reimagined through the voice and style of Elaha Soroor (The Boy with Two Hearts).

Wales Millennium Centre’s partnership with the National Library of Wales’ Wales Broadcast Archive will feature in the festival with free ticketed screenings of legendary children’s programme SuperTed, the acclaimed 1985 television series The Dragon Has Two Tongues, and a Stone Club presentation of the 1981 horror film O’r Ddaear Hen.

Stone Club will also present a screening of A Year in the Field by BAFTA-winning documentary filmmaker Christopher Morris, while Claire Marie Bailey will host a screening of her analogue film collection Parallel Lives.

Next Up, three nights of live music curated and organised by young people from local Cardiff youth organisations, will pair up UK-known headliners with local support acts covering grime and drill, hip-hop, and R&B and soul.

Somali Tales of Tiger Bay will be a celebration of history, culture and performance from Welsh Somalilanders curated and programmed by Zainab Nur, including a discussion with Nadifa Mohamed on her book The Fortune Men.

Other performances announced include A Celebration of Alison Statton: A Jazz Re-imagining with musicians from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Welsh violinist and composer Angharad Davies, and contemporary Welsh folk musician Siân James.

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 Music 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.

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 Crawfordand 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 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.

There will also be a packed schedule of free workshops and events across every space of Wales Millennium Centre, with further details to be announced in the coming months.

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

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