THE future of a renowned Gwent classical music festival has been secured thanks to arts council funding.

The Lower Machen Festival, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2017, has had its funding for the next three years secured after a successful bid for an £85,000 grant from the Arts Council for Wales.

This year's festival, which runs from Tuesday to Sunday, will hold events at the primary venue of St Michael and All Angels’ Church in Lower Machen and at The Riverfront in Newport.

Joint artistic directors Peter and Alison Esswood said they were ‘delighted’ their funding bid was accepted.

However, the pair will need to match the funding through sponsors and fundraiser events to ensure it is continued.

They have organised the annual event since 2010, placing their stamp on the popular event.

Mrs Esswood said: “The funding will take us up to the 50th anniversary. It really is so crucial to the future of the festival.

“We are hoping to make the 50th year a particularly big one, and are planning 50 different events to help commemorate it. We will also be selling merchandise for the 50th.”

The couple say they aim to have something for everyone at this year’s festival, mixing established musicians with younger, talented students.

On offer is Dennis O’Neill and singers from the Wales International Academy of Voice performing at the Riverfront on Thursday, June 26.

The internationally renowned tenor and director of the Wales International Academy of Voice (WIAV) will be joined by emerging talents of the operatic world in a varied programme of operatic arias with students from WIAV accompanied by pianist Jane Samuel.

Saturday, June 26 will see a teddy bear’s picnic at The Riverfront.

Children can bring their teddy or favourite soft toy and enjoy a special concert given by the award winning ‘Little Notes’ group. The performance is an ideal first concert experience with live music and plenty of opportunities for the little ones to get involved by singing their favourite children’s songs.

Mr Esswood said: “We are trying to encourage all ages, and really trying to involve younger children as well – the teddy bear picnic is perfect for their first musical experience.”

Artist in residence Michael Collins, will give clarinet masterclasses at Caerleon and Bassaleg Comprehensive schools on Thursday.

For tickets and details of the full programme call 08448700887 or see