Google Lowender Peran, like I just did, and follow the Wikipedia link and it takes you to a page written entirely in Kernewek – that’s how Cornish this annual festival is! But fear not, you don’t have to be fluent in Cornwall’s native tongue to enjoy this unique celebration of Celtic music and dance by the sea. Highlighting the county’s distinctive identity, alongside those of our sister nations (Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Isle of Man) this year the event has moved to Newquay, with the Atlantic Hotel as its hub.
The festival kicks off 8pm Wednesday October 14th, with an informal welcome Shout (Cornish pub singing) featuring the Perraners and the Newquay Rowing Club Singers. Open to all, what better way to get into the spirit of the event than to join in. Expect song sheets and fine Cornish ale, but its fine to just listen as well, and save your energy for the heady mix of dance, music, participatory workshops, walks, talks, family ceilidhs, delicious local food and drink, an arts and craft market, even Cornish wrestling, happening over the following four days: Thursday 15th – Sunday 18th .
If music is your thing, whether that’s traditional folk or contemporary, then you’re in for a treat or two. Friday the 16th sees the Cornish Music Symposium explore all aspects of Cornish music today. Guest speakers include Will Orchard talking about the continuity of tradition and the impact of community on Cornish music. Hilary Coleman (clarinettist with sublime Cornish band Dalla) and Sally Burley will be sharing their Cornish pub crawl/song research project, documenting the wonderful tradition of harmony singing. The result, a CD and book Kernow Shout! sold out in its first print run, but will be available on the day. Kate Neale has been researching Cornish carols sung in South Australia. Where I grew up, and where pasties are plentiful, SA hosts the largest Cornish festival in the world, Kernewek Lowender, in the copper mining district which prospered on the back of emigrating Cousin Jacks.
And that’s just a few of the speakers taking part.
Young singer-songwriter from Camborne, Kezia is not to be missed. Melt in your ears music, with songs that are firmly rooted in Cornwall and ordinary Cornish lives, her liquid-smooth vocals, bright finger-picking style, and more sombre keyboard playing, are quite simply stunning. With a performance CV that boasts playing at major festivals, supporting big name acts, touring in Europe and a recent jaunt to Nashville, she’s on as part of the Breton/Cornish/Manx night on the 15th.
Other musical delights include Jamie Smith’s Mabon, world class musicians from Wales playing original InterCeltic music. Looe’s very own The Changing Room, a folk project weaving evocative narrative around enchanting melodies, they recently won three awards for Cornwall at the 2015 International Pan Celtic Festival in Derry: best traditional band, best new song in traditional style, and the International Pan Celtic Song Contest (a Celtic version of the Eurovision one). An Tri Dipop, winners of the Trophée Loïc Raison at the Interceltic Festival in Lorient 2014, who are touring the UK for the first time, playing a mix of Breton traditional songs, jazz, acoustic and pop. Lost in Space, a funky horn-driven folk, gypsy stomp, ska band from Lostwithiel, with their own dance caller, if you’ve never step-danced or ‘scooted’ to Madness before, you’ve not lived. Prepare to get very hot and sweaty.
In fact dance is a huge part of Lowender Peran, from Scottish and Welsh dance workshops, to performances by various groups including the visiting Mizen Irish dancers, Perree Bane, a Manx traditional dance, music and song group, and the archaic Penzance Guisers, plus Ceilidhs and Troyls (the Cornish name for a knees-up) throughout, including Saturday’s free outdoor Ceilidh on the Green at Killacourt at midday. This is preceded by the parade and street dancing starting 11.30am. There’s even a silent disco, with a spooky theme, for those who fancy some dance floor freestyling. Wireless headsets will deliver a choice of chart classics or more traditional fare, with The Cornish Oafs doing a DJ set as well. Cornish obby oss ‘Pen Gwynn’ will hopefully be joining the party; fancy dress is optional, having fun isn’t.
For culturally minded folk, there’s an eclectic range of talks, Poldark themed workshops, plus a Cornish language afternoon on the Saturday, incorporating beginners and improvers sessions. Sunday you can browse the stalls at the Cornwall Handcrafted, Art and Vintage Fair in the Atlantic Hotel’s Tea Room. Showcasing the best Cornish made arts and crafts, with performances throughout the afternoon, try your hand at apple and turnip and carving with Zenna Tagney, while at 3pm there will be spooky stories from Mazed Tales, followed by another family ceilidh.
So polish your dancing shoes, bring your instruments and singing voices and join in with a workshop, or one of the spontaneous pub sessions. Learn about Cornwall’s vibrant cultural heritage, enjoy some delicious Cornish fare, discover the talents and traditions of our Celtic neighbours, and savour the delights of surf mecca Newquay.
So what are you waiting for? See the festival website for details and the full programme. www.lowenderperan.co.uk
Lowender Peran is a registered Charity set up to encourage recognition of Cornwall`s heritage and Celtic links as a vibrant, living tradition that people of all ages and backgrounds can participate in and enjoy.
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