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Heritage project launched to connect communities with history through the power of song

26 Mar 2024 3 minute read
View down to Clydach Vale. Old allotments. Rhondda Fawr left. Dry valley of Pen y Graig right. 1973 by Mary Gillham Archive Project is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

A new music project has launched which aims to connect Welsh valleys communities with their local history.Wales’ national folk arts organisation, Trac Cymru, will commence delivery of the very first community sessions in its new ‘Cân y Cymoedd – When Valleys Sing’ heritage project in the village of Ynysboeth in the Cynon valley on Wednesdays from 10 April to 19 June.

This three-year music project aims to connect communities in Rhondda Cynon Taf and Neath Port Talbot with their local history, from ancient civilisation to the present day, to inspire the composition of new songs that narrate stories about local life.


The first Rhondda Cynon Taf community taking part is Ynysboeth, where Trac Cymru will be working with both the local primary school in the afternoons and adult residents based at the vibrant local community centre in the morning.

Nina Finnigan, administrator of the centre’s Listening Project programme, commented: “We are delighted to be involved in ‘When Valleys Sing’, Trac Cymru’s innovative new project which will bring to life the folk music, past and present, of the area.

The Cynon Valley has a strong history of tradition and culture, and we are looking forward to using music to connect our communities across the generations.

Can y Cymoedd poster

The project sessions will be led by the celebrated Welsh musician Gareth Bonello who is internationally recognised for his intricate guitar skills and beautiful acoustic melodies, which he often performs with his band ‘The Gentle Good’.

As a prominent songwriter with an impressive discography, Gareth has taken his musical talents across the globe and has performed at notable venues such as the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington DC and the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing.


Both Rhondda Cynon Taf and Neath Port Talbot are relatively new county boroughs that were heavily redefined by the reconfiguration of local authority principle areas in 1996, and the ‘Cân y Cymoedd’ project seeks to create a sense of unified identity by providing a huge number of schools and community groups with new opportunities to delve into local history, including free trips to some inspiring heritage sites.

Ynysboeth residents who would like to join the community sessions are encouraged to contact Nina Finnigan at the Feel Good Factory [email protected] or email [email protected] for further information.

In addition, any residents from across the wider county boroughs who are interested in local history are invited to apply to join a stakeholder group which is being set up to stimulate further discussions and help steer the project.

The project is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund through the generous support of National Lottery Players.

Through ‘Cân y Cymoedd’, Trac Cymru and its partners aim to nurture a deeper appreciation for local history, heritage, and Welsh folk music traditions and rekindle a sense of cultural pride and belonging within the communities of Rhondda Cynon Taf and Neath Port Talbot.

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