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Cerys Hafana: Edyf review – using the Welsh triple harp to connect past and present | Music

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MAkinleth-born Ceres Havana is the master of the Welsh triple ukulele, a three-row scaring instrument of sparkling strings. In the 2022 Welsh anthology (plural), excerpted in the Guardian, she writes that they are “considered a kind of historical artifact, hailing from a better time when everyone in Wales spoke Welsh”. Glorifying that past, she added, “is to erase all things that have changed for the better,” spitting in every syllable.

Cerys Hafana Edyf's album cover art

Havana explores echoes of the past linked to the modern era in a contemporary and innovative way. On her second album, Edyf (meaning “string”), she uses the harp as a jagged-toothed percussion instrument that extracts songs from the archives of the Welsh National Library. The instrument gives the screeching beat of Y Mor o Wydr (The Sea of ​​Glass)—a strange doomsday hymn sparkling with the hot present of climate change—and the raw rhythm of Hen Garol Haf, a Celtic summer hymn that amplifies current interests in pre-Christian lore. In Tragwyddoldeb (Eternity) and Cilgerran (named after a wooded village on the banks of the River Teffe in West Wales), a forest of admiration creates bright sounds. Hiffa also sings poignantly, in her loud voice like a soprano indie pop stripped of its sweetness.

There are also moments of deep meditation. In Glorious Bridoll, she translated the psalm tune she had worked on at Bangor’s Capel Y Graig, a previously non-conformist church converted into an experimental art space. It came in 1858, based on hymn writer Benjamin Jenkins’ reflections on the depiction of light through space, and is also very beautiful. “Every age in a time period / Reveals some greatness,” Havana sings, expressing a societal ache for hope.

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