Branwen is the second branch of the four brances of the Mabinogi - a cycle of stories from Welsh mythology that mixes human drama, the animal world and the supernatural realm together, all held in the beautiful Welsh landscape.
Award winning storyteller, Michael Harvey tells the story and the songs are arranged and sung by Pauline Down. The songs are sung in Welsh with texts and translations in the accompanying pdf.
“Michael Harvey and Pauline Down with the sublime ‘Branwen’. Quality storytelling and song with heart, power and charm...Such a wonderful telling of Branwen... as ever he the made the land sing in the story (and Pauline sang its soul). Branwen was truly magical. Thank-you Michael and Pauline. Just a masterclass in using music to bring out the depth of feeling behind the words. Skilful and poignant.”
— audience responses to premiere at Festival at the Edge
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Branwen is the sister of the giant king of the Island of Britain. She dutifully marries the king of Ireland so that the two kingdoms can live in peace together. However madness and horror lurk in her own family so that peace and prosperity are impossible. When things are at their worst, suddenly the pain of our human world seems to split and through it we briefly see the world of magic and enchantment beyond.
One of the greatest myths of Celtic mythology, this ancient Welsh story has an intimate relationship with the landscape where it is set as well as the landscape of the human soul. It is a story of magical transformation, extreme characters, wildness, fury and longing. The story has a different shape to it than many other stories and is rooted in a deep dream logic that still talks to us directly many centuries after its composition.
“Branwen entrances from the first word until the final spell is cast. In one hour a whole world of marvel, mystery and humour is evoked through story and song.
Michael Harvey and Pauline Down are masters of their art, and wonderful ambassadors for Welsh culture and tradition. This is storytelling at its very best.”
— Donald Smith, Director Scottish International Storytelling Festival
The images below are of Harlech Castle where the story of Branwen starts (although the story is much older than the castle in the picture) and the other photos were taken on Ynys Môn/Anglesey and include an evening view from Mynydd Cybi/Holyhead Mountain with Ireland clearly visible, rock art from the Barclodiad y Gawres burial chamber as well as other views from the island.