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Join in the Welsh festivities this Labour Weekend

Media Release October 2012


There are many great traditions of Wales, and during Labour Weekend 2012 the Welsh Cymanfa Ganu Association of New Zealand Inc, together with the Auckland Welsh Community, are organising a series of typically Welsh cultural activities that will include a Noson Lawen, a Cymanfa Ganu, and a Celebration Dinner.

Noson Lawen is a “fun or joyful evening” which encourages audience participation by contributing music, song, poetry and folk dancing.

The Cymanfa Ganu or Festival of Sacred Song is the principal activity in which the whole community can participate. This typically Welsh musical experience will be shared with the people of Auckland as these hymns may be sung in either Welsh or English to maximize the audience participation.

John Willmott, previous conductor of the North Shore Male Voice Choir, will conduct the Cymanfa Ganu. To support the Cymanfa Ganu and to add to the audience experience, we have invited a number of talented choirs to participate.

The Celebration Dinner will round off the events and will be held at Sorrento Restaurant, One Tree Hill on the evening of Sunday 21st October 2012. The celebration dinner brings formality to the weekend events and will allow people to unwind, discuss the exciting events of the weekend and enjoy some entertainment. This year there is a choir and harpist as well as a distinguished guest speaker.

Noson Lawen
Date and time: Saturday 20 October 2012, 7.00pm
Location: St George’s Hall, Ranfurly Rd, Epsom
Cost: $10.00

Cymanfa Ganu
Date and time: Sunday 21 October 2012, 2.00pm
Location: St Mary’s in the Holy Trinity, Parnell
Cost: $15.00

Celebration Dinner
Date and Time: Sunday 21 October 2012 (following the Cymanfa Ganu)
Location: Sorrento Restaurant, One Tree Hill
Cost: $50.00

About The Welsh Cymanfa Ganu Association New Zealand Incorporated
The Association was formed in 1990 and incorporated in 1993. It has been instrumental in the organisation of all National Cymanfa Ganu, in Auckland, Wellington, Rotorua and in New Plymouth (which was the most recent in 2010). One of the founding members and the first President of the Association was Sir Frank Rutter, who was a leading figure among the New Zealand Welsh community, and renowned within his field of medicine.

The Association has some 90 members from all over New Zealand, and its objective is:

“To preserve, develop and promote our Welsh, religious and cultural heritage, including but not limited to Cymanfa Ganu, and our religious and cultural traditions, and to do all things necessary and proper to accomplish and enhance the same.”

About The Welsh of Auckland
The Welsh of Auckland are groups of people (approximately 175 in total), belonging to a number of different Welsh associations. The members are of all ages and have connections with Wales, either being recent arrivals, or having been here for 40 years or perhaps being second or third generation Kiwis, but with a Welsh heritage that we are proud to acknowledge and maintain. The Auckland Welsh Society is one of the oldest associations, established well over 70 years ago, and Incorporated in 1976. The aim of the various associations is to:
• Foster an interest in the national literature, music and customs of Wales.
• Provide opportunities for Welsh people to meet (especially on St. David’s Day, March 1st).
• Keep alive interest in music, language and history of Wales.
• Welcome new arrivals from Wales.

There is also a small Welsh Interest Group of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists Inc., that meet regularly, with the members tracing Welsh ancestry, by descendants living in Australia, England, New Zealand, U.S.A and Wales.

About the Noson Lawen
Noson Lawen is an evening of fun and entertainment. Of unknown origin, but going back to the Magna Carta at the very least, the Noson Lawen was often held to celebrate a successful event, possibly the gathering in of the hay or other harvests, always a big event, because of the uncertainty of the Welsh weather.

The festivities included “Penillion”, (the reciting of verse) to the music of the harp, folk dancing, recitation, and story telling.

The Noson Lawen gave everyone a chance to show his or her talents. Nowadays, an MC takes charge of the evening and introduces the performers, sometimes- professional entertainers, as well as the local amateur.

About the Cymanfa Ganu
Cymanfa Ganu means Festival of Song (-- pronounced “Guh-man-vah gah-nee”). It is a traditional Welsh approach to community hymn singing.

Part-singing had its origin and early development in Wales. The famous Welsh historian Giraldus Cambrensis, writing in 1188, speaks of the skill of the Welsh in vocal music, which was sung in parts and not, as elsewhere, in unison. Since the demands of part-singing could not be met by tunes of simple character, hymns were composed and adapted for this harmonious phase of vocal music by Welsh musicians, and these now rank among the masterpieces of the world, with hymns like “Guide me O’ thou Great Redeemer” universally recognised.

The beginnings of the Cymanfa were humble, in little chapels and churches that are dotted along the hills and vales of Wales. The Cymanfa would provide the common meeting place where the congregations would unite and sing under a conductor, specially qualified and chosen. To hear such an output of balanced voices leaves an indelible memory, and one that is remarkable to the Welsh.

Music, like religion, speaks a universal language; it uplifts and enriches all it touches. To extend its beneficial influence through the medium that has made such a deep impression on Welsh life and culture.

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