Black Mountains, Coleg Trefeca, commemorative trowel, early music, Ffynnongroyw, Howel Harris, Howell Harris, Methodism, Strawberry Hill gothic, Talgarth, Teulu Trefeca, Trefeca, Welsh Methodism
A four-day, three-night house party for early music-making fans, between Christmas and the New Year, has been happening for years and years, I’m told, but this had been the first time I’d heard of it, and this was the first time they allowed someone in who only sang, with no other string to her bow, as it were.
To quote Wikipedia, “Trefeca (also Trefecca, Trevecca, and Trevecka), located between Talgarth and Llangorse Lake in what is now south Powys in Wales, was the birthplace and home of the 18th-century Methodist leader Howel Harris (English: Howell Harris). It was also the site of two Calvinistic Methodist colleges at different times; the first sponsored by the Countess of Huntingdon (an English methodist leader) in the late eighteenth century; the second supported by the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Connexion in the later nineteenth century.” Coleg Trefeca is now the conference centre and retreat house of the Presbyterian Church of Wales, with 14 twin-bedded rooms and several meeting rooms of various sizes. It is a Grade II listed building, and includes the Howell Harris Museum. It welcomes not only religious groups – evidently.
I arrived with a friend in her car (mine would not have taken all her many viols) late afternoon on the 27th, and found that some, after a quick cup of tea, were already planning to make music. We waited until the first official session after dinner, and I sang at that session with five viol players. I was not really intending to take photos during the stay, so have no photograph of that group as I was not with it again.
But my camera finger got itchy the next day, when I realised just how many interesting things there were around the place. First to catch my eye was this clock.
and its explanation, which, as with every other label, was also given in Welsh.
Behind it was a display cabinet.
including these objects:
We occupied the place fully. So manifestations of our own lives were all around.
An unlit showcase in another room included these:
When I walked into the library during this free/informal playing time, I was inveigled into singing one verse of the piece they were playing (it had optional words) in return for being allowed to take their photo.
Also found around the place were carriers for wind instruments and bags of music.
I just happened to look out of my window at 8 a.m. on day three.
This presaged much nicer weather, and later in the day I was tempted outside.
This being the setting where you could try things, I asked, to the organiser’s surprise, if I might have a session with the ‘loud wind’ (as against recorders) though I’m told I must now refer to it as ‘renaissance wind’. I took out the loud version of my voice, and I was pleased to say that the general consensus was that it had worked. These loud instruments are banished to the chapel (the small one if I read the Welsh correctly).
Just a couple more pictures of items in the house:
As we travelled across the beautiful South Wales countryside on day one it had been smothered in mist and fog. As we returned on the afternoon of day four it was glorious in low sunshine – but of course my camera was in my suitcase.
A splendid record of your musical interlude. I am sure all those delightful instruments including your voice made a lovely sound..Beautiful early morning pink skies.
Some would not use the word ‘lovely’ for the loud wind, but ‘magnificent might be appropriate!
What an interesting place to be and to enjoy music making, thanks for your account.
It was a beautiful place in a beautiful part of the world.
How nice to be able to sing with a variety of instruments. It must have been a challenge.
Singing one to a part with instruments and perhaps one other singer on another line is my favourite way of making music. Singing with those loud instruments was a new and exciting experience though!
Une très agréable façon pour toi de terminer l’année dans un site original et avec ta chère musique. Merci pour ton reportage et tes infos historiques toujours intéressantes. “Ô temps suspend ton vol…” C’est chose faite à Trefeca 🙂
Yes, nearly four days away from the realities of the national and international world.