A touring music and theatrical performance at Ceredigion Museum on Friday will demonstrate the ancient and ubiquitous reach of Cymraeg right up into the ‘Old North’ of Cumbria and Scotland, and its connection to Ireland.
Welsh singer-poets Gwyneth Glyn and Twm Morys , both former Welsh Children’s Laureates, are joined by musicians from the Celtic diaspora of Scotland, Ireland and the ‘Old North’ to perform Myrddin Wyllt, a performance depicting the heritage and identity of the devolved nations through the life of the medieval Welsh legend, 6th century chief bard and prophet.
There are plenty of claims on Merlin – he’s the distant cousin of Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the talented boy wizard in the popular BBC series, but Myrddin Wyllt delves into the truth behind the Merlin myth.
Myrddin was Lailoken in Scotland, had his counterpart in Suibhne/Sweeney in Ireland, and is now known the world over as Merlin.
The concert is a Knockengorroch commission and premiered as The Real Merlin Project at the 25th festival there in southwest Scotland last month. The culmination of an online cross border collaboration, it features original music and narrative, Northumbrian pipes, percussion and multilingual harmonies in Irish, Gaelic and Welsh.
Featuring a high proportion of Welsh narrative and history, the show now comes to Wales.
According to folklore, Myrddin was bard and henchman to Gwenddolau ap Ceidio, a British king who ruled Arfderydd, a kingdom including parts of what are now Scotland and England in the area around Carlisle.
In 573 the king was killed in battle and Myrddin apparently went mad, acquired the gift of prophecy and lived as a wild man in the southern Scotland forest.
In the 12th century his character was recast and commonly known as Merlin, King Arthur’s wizard.
Twm and Gwyneth will be joined by Maeve Mackinnon and Dave Tunstall from Scotland, Andy May from Northumbria and Lorcán Mac Mathúna from Ireland, who is dubbed ‘song archaeologist’ shaman of old-style Irish singing, known as Sean-Nós.
Twm says: ‘There’s a little bit of Myrddin Wyllt in everyone. We’re here to let it out for a while!’
Myrddin Wyllt is at Galeri Caernarfon on Thursday, 6 July; Ceredigion Museum, Aberystwyth on Friday, 7 July; and in Dinefwr, Carmarthenshire at Beyond the Border, Wales’ International Storytelling Festival on Saturday, 8 July.
Local schools in Aberystwyth will participate in Pastynu workshops (the art of beating the Welsh pastwn/staff while reciting poetry), demonstrated by Twm, a son of author, historian and journalist Jan Morris.
There will also be a workshop, open to all, at the Beyond the Border festival.