Tagged: portland


Portland Noson Lawen 2018

By Ceri Shaw, 2018-06-15

Join us for an evening of music, song, and good times at our annual Noson Lawen, thrown by the Welsh Society of Oregon, and co-sponsored by Bryn Seion Welsh Church. Features the Welsh Society Choir, Andrea Wild & the Bad Wolves, our own children's troupe Y Ddreigiau Fach (Little Dragons), ViVoce Women's Chorus and the Bridgetown Morrismen.

Admission is sliding scale starting at $10 (with discounts for families). Doors open at 6:30 and the music starts around 7pm.


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83rd Annual Gymanfa Ganu - Bryn Seion Welsh Church, Beavercreek, Portland

By Ceri Shaw, 2018-06-04


Gymanfa_Flyer_2018.pdf 83rd Annual Gymanfa Ganu Flyer
Gymanfa_Flyer_2018.pdf, 356KB


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2008 Gymanfa Ganu at Bryn Seion Welsh Church

By Ceri Shaw, 2008-06-25

Sunday, 22 June 2008, Bryn Seion Welsh Church in Beavercreek, Oregon held its 73rd Gymanfa Ganu.A Gymanfa Ganu (guh-MAN-va GA-nee), is a Welsh "sing gathering" performing hymns in Welsh, sung in four-part harmony by all the attendees, under the direction of a choral director. Welsh communities in countries all over the world hold their own Gymanfa Ganu. In the US, a national Gymanfa Ganu is held by the Welsh National Gymanfa Ganu Association (WNGGA).

In the United States, the Gymanfa Ganu was a way for many Welsh Americans to hold and share their cultural heritage, preserve their language in a majority-English speaking country and unite their communities. It's still that today, a means of coming together to celebrate and enjoy being Welsh.

Bryn Seion is the oldest Welsh church on the west coast, delivering services in its community for more than 100 years. Welsh immigrants to the Portland area settled in the fertile farm community of Beavercreek, sent for friends and family to join them and then wanted a church of their own to conduct services and to sing as a community. In 1884, Bryn Seion Welsh Church was built by that community, on land donated by one of its members.

The Gymanfa leader and soloists stand at the podium, under Welsh and American flags. Next to the podium sits and Eistedfodd chair inscribed, "Eistedfodd, Talaeth Wash. 1890". Reasearch is still being done into the origins of this chair but so far the story seems to be that a member of a Welsh church in Washington state won this chair, then gave it to a family member who was a parishioner of Bryn Seion, who then made a gift of the chair to the church.

The Eisteddfod is a traditional Welsh festival of poetry, music and dance, held in Wales and all over the world. Chairs like this were traditionally given as prizes.

Attendees at the Bryn Seion Gymanfa Ganu come from all over the state of Oregon, from other states and other countries. Gymanfa Director Tim Dyck and the attendees were accompanied by Harpist Annette Pritchard and Organist Beverly Ratajak. The participants sit in the church's pews to sing from hymn books in English and Welsh. Whether you know Welsh or not, there's an invigorating, quiet beauty in holding those lyrics in your hands and singing them with a group of people just like you, all there for the same purpose: to revel in being Welsh, to whatever degree, for the moment. And to hear beautiful song in Welsh.

If you're interested in finding a Gymanfa Ganu in your area, see the WNGGA site link, above. That site also has links to purchase hymn books in Welsh-English and an edition with the Welsh lyrics rendered phonetically.

Bryn Seion's Gymanfa Ganu is held every fourth Sunday in June, at the church's address on Kamrath Road in Beavercreek, near the intersections of Cymry Lane and Swansea Lane. The first day's service and singing are at 11:00 AM, the second at 2:00 PM which is followed by a te bach ("small tea"), then the third at 6:00 PM. Singing is in English and Welsh, no experience necessary, only enthusiasm. All are welcome.

The Big Welsh Weekend - Welsh Society of Oregon

By Ceri Shaw, 2017-07-02

Bryn Seion Welsh Church - 82nd annual Gymanfa Ganu

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The Welsh Society of Oregon held its 82nd annual Gymanfa Ganu at Bryn Seion Welsh church in Beavercreek on June 25th 2017. It was part of a wider Welsh celebration which included a lively Noson Lawen at the Lucky Labrador pub on Saturday night. The event was well attended with around 200 participants showing up for the afternoon and evening sessions.

Musical director Nerys Jones and organist Geneva Cook were joined by Harpist Bronn Journey in the afternoon, and The Picton Singers in the evening, for a lively and uplifting program of group singing and performances.

During the afternoon session Tad Davis outlined future plans for Welsh events in the Spring and Fall to supplement the already scheduled Portland Gymanfa Ganu and Christmas celebrations. The Society has also recently established the 'Gwaddol Group' which will seek to raise funds for "individuals conducting Welsh research, or support for development of music or art with a Welsh connection."  ( for more details go here )

Noson Lawen - Portland 2017

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The Welsh Society of Oregon’s annual Noson Lawen was hosted by the Welsh Society Festival Chorus who presented a handful of enchanting Welsh tunes.  MCs Andrea Wild and Hugo Glanville led the crowd in pub singing and their band Three Pound Note  also joined them on the stage for some Welsh, Cornish and English folk songs. Throughout the night there were contributions from the floor and one of the evenings highlights was a reading of Dylan Thomas's 'August Bank Holiday' given by Jonathan Nicholas.


Bryn Seion Welsh Church, Beavercreek, Oregon

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Bryn Seion (Mt Zion) was built in 1884, and is the last active Welsh church on the Pacific Coast. Visit the church website here: Bryn Seion Welsh Church

What Is A Gymanfa Ganu?

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From the Welsh Society of Oregon website:- "Gymanfa Ganu (guh-mahn-vah GAH-nee) is a magnificent Welsh hymn-singing festival and more! Literally meaning “sing gathering,” it is a tradition of song and worship that has been practiced in Wales for centuries. The songs are sung in English and Welsh in four-part harmonies. Bryn Seion Welsh Church, Beavercreek, Oregon, has carried on the Gymanfa Ganu tradition since 1935. You don’t need to know Welsh to make a joyful noise, so please join us.".....Read More

The Welsh In The Northwest

Many Welsh moved into Oregon and Washington Territory in the 1880's. When train travel opened up the west. They found that land was cheap and abundant. Compared with the Great Plains, the land was much morelike that of Wales.

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Coming To America - An Interview With Mari Griffith

By AmeriCymru, 2017-03-11

Back to Welsh Literature page >


 Welsh author Mari GriffithAmeriCymru: Hi Mari, it's been a while since we last interviewed you on the site and you have an exciting announcement to make, yes?

Mari: Yes, to both parts of that question, Ceri. You last interviewed me on the web site in August of last year, on the publication of my second novel The Witch of Eye. But the reason why I have an exciting announcement has more to do with my very first novel, Root of the Tudor Rose. When you interviewed me about that one, I told you that I was committed to spreading the gospel about the Welsh origins of the Tudors, the most famous dynasty in "English" history. And it's this missionary zeal that's bringing me to the US at the end of June, to address the American Conference of the Historical Novel Society with a presentation entitled The Tudors: an English dynasty? (I shall be saying this with the same imperious expression used by Dame Edith Evans as Lady Bracknell in the Importance of Being Earnest when she pauses, looks down her nose and says disdainfully "... a handbag!" If you don't know it, you'll find it on YouTube -  A Handbag )

AmeriCymru: What can you tell us about the HNS and the conference?

Mari: The HNS is the international Historical Novel Society, which exists to promote and encourage the reading and writing of historical fiction. They bring out a review every quarter devoted to new historical fiction and they've said some nice things about both my books in that.

Root of the Tudor Rose was featured in their 'New Fiction' section and the review of The Witch of Eye in November last year hailed the book as "... a thoroughly enjoyable read, a very well-researched story, where the narrative licks along irresistibly." I was delighted by that, of course. The Society holds a conference every year, alternately in the UK and in the States. Last year it was held in Oxford and the American visitors raved about the magical 'dreaming spires' of that lovely old university city. This year the conference takes place in Portland, Oregon, which gives me the opportunity of visiting a part of America I've never seen before. I'm told it's wonderful and I look forward tremendously to seeing it for myself.

Thomas Ll. ThomasAmeriCymru: So this is not your first visit to the States?

Mari: No, it will actually be my fourth. The first three were all in order to make programmes and I particularly enjoyed making a documentary programme for S4C about the Welsh/American baritone Thomas Ll. Thomas. His middle name was Llyfnwy but not many Americans could manage that! The reason why I was so interested in him was that he came from my own home town of Maesteg in the Llynfi Valley and the family emigrated to Scranton, Pennsylvania in the 1920's when Welsh mining engineers were much in demand. "Llyf", as the family called him, didn't go into mining: instead he became one of the most famous singers of his generation, often featuring in opera and concerts in New York and all over the country. Eventually, he became known as "The Voice of Firestone" because he presented and sang in "The Firestone Hour", the hugely popular television programme of light music, transmitted live every Sunday evening and seen from coast-to-coast. Not bad for a little Maesteg boy! You've never heard of him? Tell you what, I'll write an article for you one of these days ... or perhaps he should be the subject of my next historical novel? Now, there's a thought!

AmeriCymru: Sounds like a fascinating story. But, to get back to what we were talking about - do you have any other plans while you are in the States?

Mari: Well, the HNS Conference itself only lasts for three days which means that I'm going to have quite a lot of free time on my hands, depending on how long I decide to stay. I rather fancy making that wonderful train journey down the coast to California to take in a few places I've heard of but never visited. Then perhaps a week in San Francisco before flying home because my other half, Jonah, describes himself as an ageing hippie and nothing would please him more than to have his photograph taken somewhere significant in Haight-Ashbury. So we're likely to be kicking around the area for a week or so and, of course, this gives me the opportunity of visiting some Welsh Societies in the area if anyone would like to invite me to come along and talk to them. Believe me, I could talk the hind leg off a Welsh dragon about all sorts of things - my old career as a broadcaster, my 'new' career as a writer, the origins of the Tudor dynasty and why I wanted to write the first book ... or even Thomas Ll. Thomas' career if need be. In Welsh or in English, of course. Just get in touch via my web site at Mari Griffith

AmeriCymru: Any final message for our readers?

Mari: My best regards to them all, as ever. And if anyone takes a particular delight in historical fiction, they can find out a lot more about the Historical Novel Society and its American conference by following the link below. And, if you do decide to come along, be sure to come and find me to say "hello". Historical Novel Society

Welsh Society of Portland Christmas Concert 2014

By AmeriCymru, 2014-12-02

A Christmas in Wales - ( click to download the flier )

7 - 8:30 pm, Dec 20, 2014
Kenilworth Presbyterian Church, 4028 SE 34th Ave at Gladstone St in Portland 

The Festival Chorus of the Welsh Society of Portland present their annual Christmas Concert “A Christmas in Wales” featuring traditional Welsh carols, songs, and other seasonal music. Featured special guests include the Celtic Fusion band Beltaine, harpist Tracey Rose Brown, as well as chorus member soloists and chamber ensembles. A sing- along of popular carols (including a “Deck the Halls” like you’ve never heard it before!) will round out the program.

The Festival Chorus draws on the rich traditions of choral singing in Wales, long known as “the land of song.” They sing in both Welsh and English and were originally founded to perform at the annual hymn-singing festival (or Gymanfa Ganu as it’s known in Welsh) held at Bryn Seion Welsh Church. The Chorus now performs at events year ‘round. They are led by Dr. Jamie Lynn Webster, who also directs the Chautauqua Community Chorus and the Portland Revel’s ViVoce Ensemble.

Beltaine is the Northwest's premier Celtic Fusion band featuring hammered dulcimer, guitar, accordion, and marimbula. They offer a unique blend of musical styles inspired from Celtic, folk, rock, classical, jazz, and blues sources.

Wales has a rich and vibrant history going back to the pre-Roman Celts. The Welsh Society of Portland celebrates and perpetuates Welsh heritage, culture and music in Oregon. The WSOP is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  



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A Christmas in Wales - The Welsh Society of Oregon

By AmeriCymru, 2015-12-03

7:00 - 8:30 pm, Dec 19, 2015

Saint David of Wales Episcopal Church, 2800 SE Harrison St, Portland, Oregon 97124

The Welsh Society of Oregon (WSOR - formerly the Welsh Society of Portland) is again sponsoring a concert event to celebrate Christmas with a Welsh flavor, bringing together Welsh and Celtic music and a reading of a classic Welsh Christmas tale.   Admission is free, and donations are welcome.

The concert will begin with the WSOR Festival Chorus presenting traditional Welsh carols and Christmas songs, sung in both Welsh and English.  Then, continuing a longstanding Portland tradition, Jonathan Nicholas will give a reading of Dylan Thomas’ much-loved tale “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.”  In addition, the concert will feature two musical special guests:  Celtic harpist Noah Brenner will captivate with his unique approach to the instrument, and Celtic Fusion Band Beltaine will take the stage for a set of their lively tunes.  The Festival Chorus will end the concert with some seasonal songs and sing-alongs (including “Deck the Hall” like you’ve never heard it before!).  The evening program closes with an invitation to everyone to enjoy a Welsh “Tea” - with Welsh cakes and other delicious treats.

The Festival Chorus draws on the rich traditions of choral singing in Wales, long known as “the land of song.”  Originally founded to perform at the annual hymn-singing festival (or Gymanfa Ganu as it’s known in Welsh) held at Bryn Seion Welsh Church every year, the Chorus now performs at events year ‘round.  They are led by Dr. Jamie Lynn Webster, who also directs the Chautauqua Community Chorus and the Portland Revels’ ViVoce Women’s Ensemble.

Noah Brenner is a Eugene-based celtic harpist known for his engaging performances and storytelling.

Beltaine is the Northwest's premier Celtic Fusion band featuring hammered dulcimer, guitar, accordion, and marimbula.  They offer a unique blend of musical styles inspired from Celtic, folk, rock, classical, jazz, and blues sources.

Jonathan Nicholas is an author, journalist and avid storyteller.  He wrote a column for The Oregonian for 25 years.

The Welsh Society of Oregon celebrates and perpetuates Welsh heritage, culture and music in Oregon and the Northwest.  The WSOR is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

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Welsh Society of Portland - 2015 Gymanfa Ganu

By AmeriCymru, 2015-11-20

Call-and-response is the rhythm of this world. Songbirds call out to one another in the trees; warm weather invites the blossoming of roses; a mother coos in response to her baby’s gurgles. And, for the most part, hymns are a response to the call of God on the human heart.

During the Welsh revivals that ebbed and flowed through the centuries, men and women heard the invitation to draw close to the Spirit. Their response was to compose text and tune. Itinerant preachers called miners, farmers, and apprentices to the chapel for prayer and worship. Crowds thronged to sing with heart and soul.

As “revival” means “restoration of life,” so each wave of revival brought refreshment and “living water” to parched corners of Wales. Today’s Gymanfa Ganus reach into the storehouses for the fruit that came from those seasons of harvest to celebrate hymns once a year. Gymanfas connect us to a rich and fertile past.

Occasionally a Gymanfa will offer something new. Hymns of yesterday mingled with hymns of today in this year’s 80th annual Gymanfa Ganu in Beavercreek, Oregon. Held on June 28th, 2015 in Bryn Seion Welsh Church (built in 1884, it is the last active Welsh church on the West Coast of the U.S.A.), this year’s two afternoon gatherings included hymns birthed centuries ago and those recently penned, to the delight of visitors from Wales, Canada, Alaska, and surrounding states.

The chairman of the Gymanfa Ganu, Tad Davis, welcomed all. Geneva Cook was at the organ. Nerys Jones (born in Llanfair Caereinion, sang with the Seattle Opera and the English National Opera, and studied in the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama) directed us with a voice of beauty and power. She briefly taught us the tonic sol-fa method of sight-reading, including hand motions.

The Festival Chorus of the Welsh Society of Portland came forward to sing four original pieces, directed by Dr. Jamie Lynn Webster (PhD in Musicology and Ethnomusicology from University of Oregon) and accompanied by accomplished musician, Mary Reese. Dr. Webster had asked Christopher Wicks (University of Montreal and Marylhurst College) to submit a new arrangement of “Calon Lân”; a complete version was emailed to her by the next morning! The second original was a new arrangement of “Lisa Lân” by choir member Jeff Lewis. The final new pieces were hymns written by (my father) Dr. Idris Evans: “Grow With God” (“Tyrd Gyda Duw”) and “Catch the Spirit” (“Dal Yr Ysbryd”), arranged for choir by Jeff Lewis.

John Owen, visiting from Boise, Idaho, sang a solo with feeling and strength, inspiring an enthusiastic standing ovation. We then raised the rafters with beloved standbys like “Diadem,” “Rachie,” “Blaenwern,” and “Cwm Rhondda.” The Rev. Greg Tatman gave the benediction, after which, a Te Bach (“little tea”) offered guests a sumptuous array of home-baked goodies, a now much-loved tradition at Bryn Seion Gymanfas.

As inspiring as the new musical contributions to this Oregon Gymanfa were, the Rev. John Clinton Evans lamented to the audience that the Welsh churches he visits are practically empty these days. So what will Gymanfas in Wales and around the globe look like in the future? Will there be another revival to bring new songs to Wales and to those with Welsh roots?

As we sang, I looked at my 20-year-old son, Evan (named after one of the leaders of the 1905 Revival), sitting with me to support his Taid (grandfather). My son’s generation and his counterparts in Wales will probably not create new four-part hymns. However, as the Spirit calls to the young, they will respond with their own style and their own expressions of love. They might compose the next favorite worship song in Welsh for electric guitar, drums, and keyboard. They may draft new arrangements to accompany old Welsh lyrics. It is possible they will meet in updated venues like school halls instead of chapels.

What will future Gymanfas look like? When new life comes, attendees will “[bring] out of [their] storeroom new treasures as well as old” (Matthew 13:52). The young and the seasoned will raise their voices side-by-side. Gymanfas will be a call-and-response that engages the past, the present, and even the future, a call-and-response that reflects the natural rhythm of the world.


Jacqueline Rhianon Gonnerman