Cornwall is home to a huge range of events and festivals, many of which feature music as a central component. After all, what better way to bring people together in communal celebration than in rhythm and harmony?
Some of these are decidedly historic and deeply rooted in particular locations and communities. For instance, Padstow’s Mayday celebrations goes back to the 18th century and beyond, featuring two distinctive ‘Obby Osses and their teasers, bands and dancers, each having deep emotional significance for Padstonians near and far. Another example might be Bodmin Wassailing, which takes place on 12th night (6th of January), and features a troupe of formally dressed gents who visit private and public houses to sing three particular songs and fundraise, spreading good will and making merry. At the other end of Cornwall, Helston’s Flora day and Furry dance is a focal point for the whole community, with the day divided into different dances and the ‘Hal-An-Tow’ pageant and play.
There are a host of more recent events that celebrate community and identity through music. Lowender Peran, Cornwall’s Celtic music festival, began in 1978 and brings musicians and dancers from sister Celtic countries of Scotland, Wales, Ireland, the Isle of Man and Brittany to perform in Cornwall. Since 2007, Montol in Penzance has marked the winter solstice through creative disruptiveness led by the Lord of Misrule, and features carols, strolling bands, Mummer’s plays and guise dancers. Lafrowda Festival in St Just, which started in 1996 as a music festival, has since evolved into a two week programme of events celebrating community arts.
All of these celebrations are important arenas for making and sharing music in Cornwall, and as such need to be recognised in the Cornish National Music Archive. But there are many more that aren’t featured here yet – what are we missing? Sign up to contribute an article!