Tuesday 4 July 2023

Somewhere for the weekend: rare Medieval walls, the development of the Eisteddfod and its own festival, Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan

South Gate, Cowbridge (Photo: Mick Lobb, CC BY-SA 2.0
South Gate, Cowbridge (Photo: Mick Lobb, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Cowbridge is a market town in the Vale of Glamorgan, some 12 miles West of Cardiff, and it has the distinction of being very few medieval walled towns in Wales, and substantial portions of the walls, together with the south gate, are still standing. The 18th century antiquary, Iolo Morganwg, who developed the rituals of the present day Eisteddfod, had a bookshop in the town.

Since 2010 the Cowbridge Music Festival has provided the town with a mix of classical music, jazz and folk as well as community events, and since 2021 the festival has been directed by husband and wife duo, violist Rosalind Ventris and conductor Joseph Fort. There is plenty of chance to hear the artistic directors in action as Rosalind Ventris is joined by pianist Llyr Williams for Brahms' Viola Sonatas, whilst Trio Anima (Flute – Matthew Featherstone, Viola – Rosalind Ventris, Harp – Anneke Hodnett) will be playing music from their recent debut disc, Between Earth and Sea, and Joseph Fort conducting the Choir of St Paul’s Knightsbridge in Bach's motets.

Visitors to the festival include baritone Roderick Williams with pianist Iain Burnside, the young Welsh pianist Tomos Boyles, and Trio Gaspard, as well as performers from other traditions with the Ukrainian bandura duo, Dvi Doli, (the bandura is a folk instrument combining elements of the zither and the lute), flamenco guitarist Daniel Martinez, the ensemble Khamira which comprises three musicians from Wales and three from India in fusion of Hindustani classical music, jazz, Welsh folk, and rock, and a Welsh jazz big band, The Power of Gower. 

In addition, the festival is presenting performances in care homes, as well as a wide range of outreach workshops for local school children, plus a family performance from Children's Musical Adventures.

The Cowbridge Music Festival runs from 15 to 24 September 2023, full details from the festival website.

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