Gwynedd’s Banda Bacana have taken Latin American Samba music and infused their own blend of folk, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll, to create a uniquely Welsh combination.

Formed more than 20 years ago, they have built up a strong reputation amongst fans of world music and will take to the stage in the opening concert at Bangor Music Festival at Pontio’s Theatr Bryn Terfel on 15 February.

The concert also features Cardiff-based Afro Cluster for an evening of music from two continents.

Vocalist Ceri Dalton said Banda Bacana’s music comes from a range of influences and cultures with an emphasis on having fun.

Ceri said: “We play a mix of funk, afrobeat, Latin, reggae and ska and we’ve written most of our own songs.

“It’s the sort of music we like to play and it seems our audiences like it as well. We encourage people to get up and dance and they don’t need to be asked twice. We’ve even seen people in wheelchairs try to get up and dance.”

While focusing mainly on contemporary music, Bangor Music Festival has been a cultural highlight on Wales’ cultural calendar for more than 20 years and will be staged within Pontio at Bangor University from 15 to 18 February.

Festival organiser Guto Pryderi Puw, who has been involved with the festival since it was launched in 2000, said the theme of the 2024 festival is New Music, New Experiences and in addition to a series of major concerts also features a range of discussions, lectures, workshops and educational projects.

Guto, a reader in music composition at Bangor University s School of Music, Drama and Performance said: “We are always keen to bring new music to the festival as well as new experiences and we thought this year we could make that the official theme of the festival.

“Banda Bacana and Afro Cluster are two bands who will bring the music of Africa and Latin America to Bangor and it will be an evening of new musical experiences for many.”

He said the auditorium seats at Theatr Bryn Terfel will be replaced by tables and chairs for the occasion with plenty of space for dancing.

“The music is made for dancing and the cabaret style setting will make it more of a gig than a formal concert,” he added.

A remarkable 15 new compositions will be premiered at the festival. Some have been especially commissioned by the event and many have been written by young composers based in Wales.

The showcase concert at 7.30pm on Saturday, 17 February will feature three new pieces as well as music by well-known international composers John Adams and Olga Neuwirth. A pre-concert talk will take place at 6pm.

An award-winning piece will be one of a number of new works to be featured in a lunchtime concert at Pontio’s Studio theatre.

Performed by an ensemble from Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias the piece by Gwydion Rhys, who is from Rachub near Bethesda and a student at the Royal College of Music in London, won the Composer’s Medal at the Urdd National Eisteddfod last May.

Other pieces include festival commissions by Niamh O’Donnell and Cardiff-based Tayla-Leigh Payne.

Later in the afternoon talented performers currently at Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias performing an eclectic mix of music for soloists and ensembles in Pontio’s Bar Ffynnon.

The Bangor New Music Ensemble will present works by student composers in various public spaces in the Pontio building.

At 3pm on Sunday, 18 February, Electroacoustic Wales will take part in a live performance in Theatr Bryn Terfel at Pontio with the SOUND/IMAGE Research Centre at London’s University of Greenwich and Luxi Tian, a PhD student at Bangor University, who plays the Guzheng, a Chinese plucked zither.

Earlier, at 12.30pm, Electroacoustic Wales, directed by Andrew Lewis, will present a selection of pieces written by Bangor University student composers.

Further information about the festival can be found on the event’s website at