Musical partnership announced between Wales and Friuli

18 February 2021

Today sees the launch of an international partnership between the National Eisteddfod and the SUNS Europe Festival – the European Festival of Performing Arts in European Minority Languages

The partnership is a celebration of music rising above linguistic borders, with the first project combining Welsh with Fruilian, the indigenous language of Friuli, northern Italy.

This first collaboration features Welsh band, Adwaith and Friulian musician, Massimo Silverio, with the song, Yn y Sŵn (Nijo), released on 26 February.  The song will premiere on Huw Stephens’ programme on BBC Radio Cymru on Thursday 18 February, with a video by filmmaker, Jonny Reed, released on 25 February.

Two versions of the song have been recorded, a Welsh and bilingual version in Welsh and Fruilian, and both Adwaith and Massimo Silverio feature on both versions.  The word ‘Nijo’, the title of the bilingual version, is an ancient Friulian word meaning ‘Nowhere’, and when writing the words, Massimo Silverio thought of all the feelings, words and language which ultimately reach ‘Nijo’.

Welcoming the partnership with the SUNS Europe Festival, National Eisteddfod Chief Executive, Betsan Moses, said, “This partnership between the Eisteddfod and the SUNS Europe festival shows how we can successfully collaborate with other countries and cultures across the world.

“I’m confident that the fact that we’re both festivals celebrating minority languages binds us together, and I hope this is a solid foundation for us to further develop this relationship and other projects in the future.  We’ve created something quite magical with this first collaboration, and I’m sure everyone will agree that the song – be that the Welsh or bilingual version – is amazing.”

Leo Virgili, SUNS Europe’s Artistic Director, added, “I want to thank the Eisteddfod for this brilliant idea.  Collaborating with Wales at this specific time has even more importance for us.  We strongly believe in a Europe that goes beyond Brexit, banks, and state agreements.  A real Europe able to express proudly its diversity, sharing the power of indigenous languages and cultures.”

Playing at SUNS Europe in Udine, Friuli in 2017 was the start of Adwaith’s deep connection to this inspirational festival, its artistic community and the ethos at the heart of SUNS.

When the opportunity was presented by the Eisteddfod and SUNS for the band to collaborate on a song with Massimo Silverio, an artist writing and singing in the Friulian language, they eagerly accepted. The resulting song is the beautifully dark and emotionally rousing Yn Y Sŵn (Nijo)/ Nijo (Yn Y Sŵn). Building on Massimo’s intricate chords, melancholic cello and flowing poetry Adwaith weave textures, rhythms and sounds unlike anything they have created before.

The creative collaboration spilled over into two versions, one fully in Welsh, on which Hollie is at her most vulnerable lyrically and vocally and a bilingual version. This version is a journey through different heritage, cultures and languages, yet sharing the same destination and reach each other’s hearts in a way only music can.

Yn y Sŵn (Nijo) and the bilingual version, Nijo (Yn y Sŵn) will be released on Friday 26 February 2021.