Welsh harpist Catrin Finch is at WOMAD this weekend, performing with Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita. Taryn Utiger caught up with Catrin ahead of their mesmerising performances.
Hi Catrin. Thanks for chatting with us! Tell us, what event or story in your life would make a great movie?
Well, my life took a different turn a couple of years ago when I met my now wife, Natalie. I have two children from a previous marriage of 13 years, but took a dive into the deep end and chose a new path and followed my heart when I met Nat.
Unfortunately our early relationship wasn’t easy, and I shortly afterwards got ill with breast cancer, but over three years on and we are settled with our three children, a new home and much to look forward to!
If you could throw a dinner party and invite any three people from history, who would pick and why? And what would you cook them?
I would invite my grandmother who was a great inspiration to me and always lit up a room; the french harpist Marcel Grandjany who is a bit of a “maestro” in the harp world and who’s technique and harp school I have followed, and Neil Armstrong to ask him if he really did walk on the moon!! As I am a terrible cook and limited to a couple of boring pasta dishes, I would ask someone else to cook or take them out for food!
Tell us how two amazing musicians in their own right, came together to form something so beautiful?
We were put together initially as an experiment and an idea for some concerts celebrating the traditions of harp and kora playing in Wales and Western Africa.
In both cultures the harp is seen as a national instrument, and there are many similarities between the bardic traditions here in Wales and that prof the griot’s in Senegal and Mali. We loved playing together so much that we continued the collaboration and made a recording, and the rest is history as they say!
For anyone who hasn’t yet discovered the magic of Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita, what will your WOMAD performances be like?
Our performances, we have been told, are very calming and moving experiences. Between the two instruments we create a sort of sound world and a lot of the time you can’t tell who is playing what. The harp has magical qualities to it and it’s sound is very unique, so I don’t think we are like anything else people have heard before.
And what will you be up to at WOMAD when you’re not on stage?
Visiting! Seckou has visited before but I have not had the pleasure of spending much time in Australia or New Zealand before so I cannot wait to see your beautiful countries and experience life and people there.