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Abergavenny Music Closes its Doors

August 14th, 2017

Abergavenny’s specialist classical music shop, Abergavenny Music, closed its doors on 29 July owing to the illness of the owner and founder, James Joseph.

Photo courtesey of Stables Photography Studios, Abergavenny

For more than quarter of a century it has been a big part of the lives of both the town itself and a world-wide community of music enthusiasts.
James established Abergavenny Music 27 years ago. As a talented musician who had worked in production across the UK and Europe, James wanted to create his own perfect music shop, characterised by wonderful stock and expert service. He and his wife, the artist Sarah Thwaites, chose Abergavenny as the place where they wanted to settle down and have a family.

He took premises at 23 Cross Street and made them into a stylish and airy space that became a treasure house of music. The shop sold recordings, videos, sheet music and books, and customers came from far and wide. One of its qualities from the start, set by James’s own quiet and unassuming style, was as a place where people felt welcome to browse for as long as they liked, listening to current recommendations playing through the sound system. The shop felt like a creative space – a focus of chance meetings and a place to make new friendships.

The excellent staff over 27 years have included bright youngsters given their first job opportunities and many professional musicians who were able to supplement their incomes knowing that James would change schedules at short notice if performing opportunities came up. Customers came to expect a service very different from any they would get from HMV or Amazon thanks to the eagerness of James and his colleagues to find answers to obscure questions, research just the right recording or locate scarce scores.

For several years James expanded the operation with a sister shop in Castle Arcade in Cardiff and after that a stand in Ross-on-Wye but the changing landscape of multinational online retailers and downloading has challenged the survival of in-person music retailing everywhere. He kept Abergavenny Music open long after most people would have closed the doors because he loved to be in that calm, music-rich environment and to provide a service.

James has been receiving many messages from people who have been grateful for everything the shop has been over the years. Angela, Kaye, Rosie and Lindsey continued there until the doors closed for the last time on 29 July. The local traders from Y-Fenni Business Community also want to say thank you to Abergavenny Music Shop for enriching our town for all these years.

Peter Wakelin and Clive Hicks-Jenkins

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