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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. To recognise and value your own and roots and identity is an essential first step in recognising valuing and respecting other peoples. If Cornwall is to survive as a distinct entity in the future then each generation must show the next that our culture has something to offer them that is worth carrying forward into the future. Lowender Peran provides the ideal medium through which to do this.

History of the festival

Celtic Roots

Whether it was by rebelling against one of the most powerful medieval Kings in Europe, by cradling the industrial revolution or by a unique interpretation of Wesley’s preaching, Cornwall and the Cornish have a long history of expressing a distinctive identity.

From the latter part of the 19th Century there was a steadily increasing recognition and promotion of a Celtic dimension to Cornish identity stemming initially from the linguistic links between Cornish and the other Celtic languages but later moving on to a wider cultural base represented by Cornwall’s acceptance into the Celtic Congress in 1904 and the establishment of the Cornish Gorsedh in 1928.

The banner of Celtic Cornwall was picked up by succeeding generations a there was an annual Celtic festival held in St Ives in the early fifties and by the seventies Cornish folk singer pioneer Brenda Wooton found herself acting as Cornwall’s ambassador in the growing number of Celtic festivals.

The Betty Fest 

The Pan Celtic Festival, then held in Killarney, was particularly supportive of the Cornish and encouraged performers to attend and take part in the competitions.

Con O’Connell, the executive director of the festival made frequent visits to Cornwall to drum up support and found an ardent enthusiast in Betty Pitman of Perranporth who lead a party of Cornish to the festival throughout the 70s.

Encouraged by the successful entry of Kemysk in the Celtic Singing competitions in 1978 Betty was determined that Cornwall should have it’s own Celtic festival and by October of that year it did. There was a weeklong festival of what Betty deemed as Celtic activities which included a variety of water sports, tug of war teams and wrestling as well as music and dance. A short while after the first festival Betty booked up the dates and venues for the next year and called a meeting of interested parties, committed them to running the event and then promptly resigned!

The festival was named In recognition of Peran and Lowender Peran was born. Cornish Dance Folk dancing and dance displays were, and are, a key feature of the Celtic festivals as they provide the opportunity for pageant and colour as well as the expression of identity through costume and tradition.

The Cornish group visiting the festival in 1999, inspired by references to the “lancers” being done at troyls held in the fish cellars at Newquay, had adapted parts of the Royal Cornwall Quadrilles from Godolphin House as folk dances to provide a display of dance from Cornwall during the festival. What they had not appreciated was the extent to which the popular “Kerry sets” had also been influenced by the quadrilles of the country houses and that the Cornish quadrilles. There was also much interest in the traditional Cornish step and furry dances but one festival organiser in particular, Ian O’Leary, provided a great deal of encouragement was given to continuing research into Cornish dance tradition.

The dances collected in Cornwall during this period provided a core of material which encouraged the development of Cornish dance display groups and an increasing use of Cornish dances for troyls / barn dances.

Cam Kernewek formed late in 1979 and were quickly followed by Ros Keltek in early 1980 so that Cornish dance displays and troyls were a feature of the 1980 festival and have remained a core part of the festival since that time. Cornish Music Whilst main stage concerts are enjoyed by all and our own bands are regularly joined by well known performers from the Celtic Diaspora, the opportunity to participate has been a key feature of Lowender Peran from the outset.

From the informal sessions that spring up throughout the festival to the opportunity for a spot on the acoustic stage or the Droll Adro story tellers tale swop this continues to be a part of the culture of Lowender Peran. Celebrating a wider Cornish heritage The cover 20th anniversary programme for Lowender Peran depicted a fish wife in work wear costume and marked a move in emphasis towards the celebration of a wider Cornish heritage.

This shift in emphasis eventually lead to the launch of the “An Daras Cornish Folk Arts Project” in 2003 and the regular inclusion of events involving, dialect, verbal arts, costume and Cornish history and folklore as well as an extended range of crafts in the “Celtic Market”. Cornish performers, Lowender Peran 1978 – 2000 The list of Cornish performers at Lowender Peran provides an interesting musical history.

Performers are listed in approximate date order from when they first appear in the programmes:

Fal Folk, Kemysk, Quylkyn Tew, Celtic Pipe Band, Bucca, Mordros, Mo and Ern Keast, Gwesper, Breder Richards, Kenysy Kernow, Brian Webb, John Bolitho, Loveny Choir, Four Lanes Choir, Bodmin Childrens Choir, Cam Kernewek, Ros Keltek, An Tryskell, Heva, Angus and Des, Jon Mills, Brenda Wooton, Bagas Byghan, Myrghes Morwenna, Goonvrea Choir, Port Isaac Singers, Peswar Den, Carnon Vale Choir, Knee High Theatre, A39 Theatre, Trev Lawrence, Joy Stephenson, Mudansa, Gwaryoryon, Last Orders, Anao Atao, Blue Ticket, Eia, Gaja, Tamar Troylers, Lapyor Tom, Newquay Band, John and Frances Webb, Bedlam, Stampede, Penglas, Myrghes Lowen a Vythyan, Ryb an Gwella , Otta Nye Moaz, Graham Sandercock and James Hawken, Bert Bisco, Ragamuffin, Free Fall, Poll Pri, Pyba, Blues Ticket, Bolingey Troyl Band, Myrghes an Vro, White Noise, Sue Allen, Can an Ethen, Juggins Lugger, Scarlets Well, Berdh Arnowydh Kernewek, Calstock Singers. Captain Kernow and the Jack and Jenny Band, Asteveryn, Kana Kara, Tan Ha Dowr, Pete Berryman, Hubbadillia, Mike O’Connor, Blossom the Clown, Sowena, Zabuloe, Dew Varth, Tan Ha Dowr, Rosie Fierek, Calstock Singers, Mo Keast, Tregajorran Troylers, Skwardya, Spit, Ebren Vras, Cornwall Songwriters, Clay Players, Davey/Webb, Konteth Karrek,, Kescanna, Dalla, Naked Feet, Aveladenn, Perraners, Ahanan, Geof Tredinnick, BIM, Chris and Mary Humphries, Kerensa, Joy Stephenson, Krenna, Lowender Peran Dancers, Pentorr, Ray and Becky Delf, Scoot, Bagas Crowd, Kerens, We Be, Julie Elwin, Samba Celtica, Caracana, Camelford Friends Playford Group, Laura Divall, Horners, Pengizers, Red Army, Riff Raff, Alan Woolard, Bagas Porthia, Troyl and Error, Kekezza, Cape Cornwall Singers, Cornwall Fiddle Orchestra, Tros An Treys, Dee and Dave Brotherton, Hedra, Trev and Jacki Lawrence, Cowetha, Gwydh Donsya.

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