Peggy Spencer Behrendt
St. David’s Society of Utica to sponsor Fall Gymanfa Ganu
CLINTON — The St. David’s Society of Utica will sponsor their Fall Gymanfa Ganu at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 7, at the Clinton United Methodist Church. A Gymanfa Ganu is a festival of sacred song in the Welsh tradition according to Linda Walters, president of the society.
Those who attend become participants in a massive choir singing traditional Welsh hymns in four part harmony. While most of the songs are in English, participants are taught to sing some verses in the Welsh language. Song books are provided to all who attend. The general public is invited to attend this event.
The conductor for this event will be Jay G. Williams III, a seasoned Gymanfa Ganu conductor who lives in Clinton. Williams is an attorney with the firm of Felt Evans in Clinton and is pastor of the Augusta Presbyterian Church. Jay is the author of two books on Welsh Americans. He has conducted at previous Gymanfas for the local St. David’s Society as well as other Welsh societies throughout the country.
Susan Bartholomew will be the organist for this event. She is a Certified Public Accountant from Remsen and serves as organist for the First Presbyterian Church of Ilion. Jeanne Jones of New Hartford will be pianist.
Special music will be presented by soloist Peggy Spencer Behrendt who will be playing selections from the classical and Celtic genres on the harp, which is known as the national instrument of Wales. Behrendt was born in Utica, graduated from Westmoreland High School and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the State University of New York Fredonia School of Music, where she majored in voice and piano, and minored in English.
She is founder of the musical group Harp & Harmony, and has recorded and produced six recordings since 1998, some of which have been aired on NPR affiliates in Syracuse and Binghamton. She performs regularly in concerts and church services on harp, piano, viola, keyboard, organ, 5 string banjo and recorders, and writes original music and arrangements.
She and her husband, Timothy Hume Behrendt often perform together as Harp & Harmony and together they also founded and run the Shawangunk Nature Preserve, a non-profit, 520 acre, deep-ecology, learning and cultural center in central New York. Her column about this Preserve; “Tales from Shawangunk” appears monthly in Mohawk Valley Living magazine.
Walters noted that there will be no admission price for the event but that a free-will offering will be taken. A reception, known in Welsh as “te bach” will follow the singing. The te bach features complimentary tea, Welsh tea cakes, and Welsh bread known as “bara brith”.
The church is located at 105 Utica St. in Clinton and is handicapped accessible.
St. David’s Society of Utica originated from the Cymreigyddion Society organized in 1856. Its purpose is to preserve activities unique to the Welsh culture. Events held throughout the year are open to the public and planned to educate and inspire people through Welsh cultural events. Immigrants from Wales have richly contributed to an American heritage that combines the best from many homelands. More information is found on their website: http://www.saintdavidssociety.org.
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