NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE
With the Lorient Festival underway this week we have comment below from the Breton branch on the event.
STATEMENT BY THE BRETON BRANCH
F.I.L. – 2015: New President, New Manager, New Era?
Following an exceptional year hosted by Ireland in 2014, the two smaller Celtic nations, Kernow and Mannin, will be working together this year to host the huge event: the 45th Lorient Interceltique Festival. (F.I.L.)
In order to give you a broad idea of the scope of the Lorient Interceltique Festival I will attempt to provide some helpful information. The ten day festival is spread over two weekends, with more than 750.000 people as well some 4500 artists, mainly from pipe bands and dancing groups, attending different shows. The space dedicated to the festival is more or less 300M wide and 1KM long stretching between the stadium and the music-hall: Espace-Marine. The meeting point for the Celtic League members attending is the Quay of the Celtic Nations and for a number of years we gathered at the Manx Stand where Cathy Clucas worked. However, Joss ar Gall, Chairman of the BreizhEire group, now living in Éire, is in charge of the Irish pavilion for the second year running, so I believe the meeting point will change to the Irish pavilion this year. Each time I go to the F.I.L. I am always happy to visit the Celtic-Village as well as the Interceltic-Market, where I take the opportunity to sell some Celtic books on Quay-West, which I hope will appeal to many visitors to the festival.
As it is a music festival the most important thing to do is attend the many shows that take place. This year the band Simple Minds will be performing as well as the Celtic Social Club, Carlos Nuñez, Denez Prigent and the Kreiz-Breizh-Academy. To really appreciate the F.I.L. visitors should make the effort to attend the Big Parade of the Celtic Nations, where tens of thousands of spectators gather to watch the parade which runs from the fishing port to the stadium. There is also a professional soccer stadium next door to the Breizh stadium which are used for Breton games and music etc.
The F.I.L. has adopted a somewhat wider view of inter – Celtic connections, so in order to open up the festival to the world, the Acadians from Canada, were the host nation in 2012. Unfortunately, with their flags waving in the wind the festival looked very sort of ‘Frenchie’. Furthermore, the organisers are now working hard to include New South Wales in Australia in future festivals. The organising body, including the President and Manager, are open-minded people and are well aware of the cultural challenge posed here on the continent. Following WWII a lot of traditional artists rejected the concept of Celtic civilization and Celtic music, because of this J-P. Pichard, the former manager, worked hard to change their prejudices and preconceptions. A few years ago when he left the job, traditional musicians no longer questioned their Celtic heritage. The new manager, L. Lombardia, an Asturian, is also a very clever and an interesting man. As you may well know the native inhabitants in the regions of Norte, Galicia and Asturia have been Roman Latin speakers since 250BC, however they still retain some Celtic traditions, especially with regards to music. That is why Lisardo Lombardia has been involved in the F.I.L. for a long time and he has managed to promote successfully the most well-known Celtic festival in Breizh.
For decades the F.I.L. took the opportunity to promote Breizh businesses all over the world through the ‘club-K’ ( a group of sponsors) and this is growing stronger all the time. Noël Couedel, the previous President, a media Manager in Paris, developed closer relations with the Canadian delegation. The new President, Guy Gestin, a Breton leader from the Leon area (N.W.), is an active member of the dairy company ‘paysan Breton’ and Produet E-Breizh (PEB), whose slogan is: « Live, Decide and Work in Breizh! ». Guy Gestin joined the F.I.L. 25 years ago, as commercial director of Coopagri Bretagne: ‘paysan Breton’ with the well-known ‘triskell’ brand logo on their packaging. The goal of the co-op was to attract overseas companies to the festival as Gestin clearly identified the potential for the Breton markets to expand their business through contact with the Celtic countries and worldwide. Together with club-K., G. Gestin worked hard to develop a synergy between Celtic culture and business. During the first decade of this century Gestin became Vice-President and shortly after he became President of club-K. In business circles this strategy has become a shining example to follow.
Today more and more cultural events held in the summertime, with well-known sponsors organising such business events e.g. conferences, professional meetings and sports events etc. at the festivals. It was through club-K. that the Lokarn-Institute and PEB organised EtreVroadel (E.V.) (cf.: Carn: 155+157). The F.I.L. gave the opportunity for Guy Gestin to meet Joss ar Gall from Breizh/Eire , who is now in charge of the Irish Pavilion, and Gestin is now more than happy and motivated to build further relationships between the Celtic countries in a ‘human way’ according to his co-op. He is especially happy to link the land and the sea in each area to show a good mix between ‘paysan Breton’ and the port of Lorient. Because of all of his hard work and successes Guy Gustin was elected President of the F.I.L. last year. For years the presidents lived in the Lorient area. It’s the first time that the members of the association voted for a leader from the Bro-Leon area with a farming industrial background. The different organisational and administrative sectors within the F.I.L. are strong and well-motivated and G. Gestin is willing to bring more life to the whole organisation, as well as to take on more of the formal duties with official representatives from other Celtic nations as with President Higgins (Éire) at last year’s festival. The financial situation of the F.I.L. is poor to say the least. Therefore G. Gestin needs to adopt a pragmatic approach! Two immediate steps will be taken this year, firstly the solidarity badge for the festival will increase from €3 to €5 and secondly for security reasons they will introduce a CelticCash credit card. These measures, along with others, will hopefully improve the financial situation in two to three years’ time. The big challenge is to keep the musical, cultural, social and human qualities of the F.I.L. intact, and G. Gestin is certainly ready to meet this challenge!
The F.I.L. has for years endeavoured to build its own unique model of inter Celtic connections and that is part of its success story. Whilst the F.I.L. and the Celtic League adopt a different approach to Celticism, they need not be mutually exclusive. The question is how the C.L., “a link between the Celtic Nations”, can now contribute positively to this Celtic success story? Over the years the F.IL. has been a meeting a meeting point for a few members of the C.L. Perhaps we should now turn our attention to organising a number of events to promote the positive achievements occurring in the Celtic Nations, like music, soft-power or Celtic citizenship. First of all, we must thank the former manager, J-P. Pichard, who brought Celtic culture back to life in Breizh. With more Brezhoneg in the F.I.L, L. Lombardia, the new Manager, has made a good start and taken a step forward. We must also thank him for meeting the challenge of having two hosts together on the same poster for this 45th F.I.L! I agree with him when he wrote that even if these two nations have a common cultural heritage, they do not, in fact, know each other very well. The images on the poster for this year’s festival includes ‘Excalibur’ , which goes back to King Arthur as well as Tristan and Iseult, and Manánnan mac Lir, the said to be the founder of enez Vannav. The good thing about these two small nations is the number of new young artists that appear at the festival each year. The final show will be aimed at putting ‘Breizh at the heart of the Celtic World’!
The festival starts on Friday 7th August with musical awards given out by PEB, as well laying on a good seafood dinner. On Saturday night a special event will take place in the Grand Theatre, with Manx and Cornish groups like Barrule, Kilgalon and Kezia. Performing in the stadium, the best Breton pipe bands (bagadoù) will be on stage too. Each day features a lot of pipe bands, choir competitions or shows and of course a Fest Noz is held every night. On Sunday all should attend the spectacular Parade of the Celtic Nations. Denez Prigent will be back to perform ‘An Enchanting Garden’ (Ul liorzh-Vurzhuduz!) his 7th and last CD. As usual, the feature on Monday is a special night dedicated to the two host nations on the poster: Mec Lir, Russell Gilmore, Camborne Town Band and 3 Daft Monkeys etc. In the Grand Theatre the now famous Kreiz Breizh Akademi#5 along with Talabarte will, of course, entertain us all with their excellent shows. At the Palace you will be able to listen to a wide variety of different performers, so I urge you all to follow the programme outlined on the posters. On Tuesday, the Celtic languages tops the programme at the Grand Theatre. At the same time in the music-hall, Espace-Marine, you have a choice – Calan or Kila… a hard choice indeed. On Wednesday, the Manx groups join in the competition, as well as Danù, an Irish traditional group, and Shooglenifty from Alba.
On Thursday, Carlos Nuñez, a Galician musician will be performing, and I recommend that this should not be missed. Aber Valley Choir is another choice, as well as Manran from Alba. On Friday 14th the Acadian singer, Z. Richard, tops the night’s performances. On a more traditional note Bagad Gwened will be in the free style show. On the Saturday night nobody should miss the opportunity to enjoy the music of Simple Minds and The Celtic Social Club who will perform on stage in the music-hall. I did notice that on the same day, in the afternoon, we have the Guinness Pipe Band’s trophy and Saturday is set aside for ‘social’ activities. Sunday 16th is the final day of the 45th F.I.L. This give an opportunity for the sponsors’ ‘paysan Breton’ the chance to organise the Matilin an Dall trophy, which follows a Breton mass in the morning. The Fest-Deiz will close the 45th festival for the hosts – Kernow and Mannin. We extend our gratitude to the Manager and the President of F.I. L. for presenting us with this unique and innovative new programme.
(Written by Gi Keltik – Breizh branch Celtic League)
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
THE CELTIC LEAGUE INFORMATION SERVICE
The Celtic League was established in 1961and has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues