Welcome to Penarth Chamber Music Festival

Welcome to this year’s Penarth Chamber Music Festival! It was even more thrilling than we imagined being back performing for you, our wonderful, loyal audience last year. We had are best audiences ever and are hoping this year’s programme will allow us to continue to grow in such an exciting way.  

There is a vibrant mix of international artists and an astonishing array of local musicians coming to PCMF 2023 to continue our tradition of exhilarating, uplifting performances. 

Our centrepiece Gala Concert on Saturday night in All Saints Church includes 2 magnificent string works Brahms String Quintet in F and the ever exuberant Mendelssohn Octet surrounding a magical piece by Welsh born composer Hilary Tann. Her work “The Walls of Morlais Castle” was premiered by David and Alice in 2000 and this mysterious ancient welsh castle leads us beautifully into the world of greek myths featured in the late night concert. Works by Debussy, Britten and Szymanowski will entwine us in the stories of Bacchus, Syrinx, Arethusa and also showcase our virtuoso guest artists, Matthew Featherstone, Steven Hudson, Laura Samuel and Jâms Coleman. This action packed day begins with “Mozart in the Morning” a chance to enjoy the humour, elegance and passion of Mozart with a cup of coffee and croissant! 

We are absolutely delighted to be bringing Claire Booth back to Penarth. After her extraordinary performances of WNO’s production of Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine which was set in an apartment on the esplanade, she will be with us for Schoenberg’s extraordinary, revelatory and dramatic Pierrot Lunaire. Written in 1912 it is still sounds as striking and modern as on first hearing. Featured in our Moonlight Concert it will be heard alongside the Debussy cello sonata (1915), subtitled “Pierrot fâché avec la lune”,  Schubert’s moving and exhilarating string quartet Death and the Maiden. 

Almost any work by Beethoven is groundbreaking and his quartet op.59 no.1 is no exception. Familiar though it is he breaks every rule in the book with a surprise around every corner whilst stirring the emotions in such a profound way. This is the climax of the opening concert which also includes the beautiful and mysterious Chanson Madécasses by Ravel also starring soprano Claire Booth.

Turner House is a new venue for the festival this year. This intimate and unique space will host a public masterclass and a young musicians showcase adding to our ever developing outreach projects. We are including a Relaxed Concert and workshops, a Family Concert featuring children from Cogan Primary School led by PCMF’s regular animateur Lenny Sayers, 2 Young Musicians Showcases and a public masterclass with former member of the Belcea String Quartet, Laura Samuel. There will be illustrated talks by James Lea, introducing Pierrot Lunaire and a light hearted talk about chamber music entitled “How do they get it together?” by Donal Bannister Principal Trombone BBCNOW. 

The popular Flat Holm Island Discs will this year be a celebration of the life of broadcaster and journalist Nicola Heywood-Thomas who sadly died in April. The music will be chosen by her family and friends to reflect her passionate love for music throughout her life and performed ‘live’ by the festival musicians. Tim Rhys Evans OBE, Director of Music RWCMD, and Rachel Jones CEO Arts & Business Cymru will host the event, as two of Nicola’s closest friends. 

We hope you will be moved, surprised, fascinated, excited and stirred by this year’s programme. We know we will be!

David and Alice

History of the festival

As musicians living in Penarth, David and I saw a golden opportunity to start a chamber music festival, for the many music-lovers in the community, to draw visitors to come to spend a weekend in the “garden-by –the sea” and for ourselves – as a musician it’s a rare treat to play to a “home crowd”! In 2014, when the Penarth Pier Pavilion was nearing completion, we visited the gallery and thought what a wonderful space this would be for chamber music concerts – a beautiful acoustic, unparalleled views over the Bristol Channel, ice cream and fish and chips at hand – what more could we ask for!

We aim to bring top class chamber music concerts, given by musicians on the international stage to Penarth. We have had many memorable moments – visits by some fantastic musicians including Elias and Endellion String Quartets, Gould Piano Trio, London Bridge Trio, Malin Broman, Elena Urioste, Tom Poster, Simon Crawford Phillips and Alasdair Beatson as well as extraordinary performances by our “locals” Rebecca Evans CBE, Robert Plane, Robin Green and Lesley Hatfield to name but a few. We aim to not only provide concerts for knowledgeable music lovers, but also introduce great works to new audiences and young people (through our free ticket scheme), and through our Family and Relaxed concerts, provide opportunities for first experiences into the wonderful world of chamber music.

Alice Neary

Alice Neary, Penarth Chamber Music Festival

Principal cello of BBC National Orchestra of Wales

David Adams

David Adams, Penarth Chamber Music Festival

Leader of the orchestra of Welsh National Opera


  • Rhys Taylor (chairman)
  • Geraint Talfan Davies
  • Samantha Maskrey
  • Catherine Porteus
  • Lisa Entwistle-Evans (treasurer)
  • Robert Fokkens
  • David Adams
  • Sally Ann Bird

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The Festival

World class concerts against a backdrop of stunning seascapes. Our distinguished musicians bring the international stage to Penarth.


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The Artists

Artistic Directors

  • David Adams and Alice Neary


  • Rebecca Evans CBE