Celtic Chrismas Carols at Amenia Town Hall
The free Celtic Christmas concert was held on Saturday, Dec. 9. 
Photo by Natalia Zukerman

Celtic Chrismas Carols at Amenia Town Hall

On Saturday, Dec. 9, the Amenia Town Hall Auditorium offered a heartwarming gift to the community, transforming into a hub of Celtic melodies and Christmas cheer. 

The free Celtic Christmas concert featured a lineup of exceptional artists, led by David Paton and Joseph Sobol, along with their talented friends.

Paton, inheriting the rich folk music legacy of his parents, Sandy and Caroline Paton, graced the audience with his expertise on the hammer dulcimer and English concertina. Joining him was Sobol, a recent Amenia resident and nationally recognized player of the cittern, a 12-stringed instrument resembling a lute that dates from the Renaissance. Sobol also played a 12-string cutaway acoustic guitar, offering a beautifully warm tone and complex harmonies.

The concert also featured guests Isa Simon, a wonderful fiddler and singer from New York City, and Ambrose Verdibello, who played both the fiddle and mandolin. All of the instruments and deft musicianship created a tapestry of melodies, with a repertoire ranging from holiday songs to dance tunes, both familiar and new.

The evening showcased Andrew Forbes on flutes and percussion, whose opening bagpipe tune magically transported the audience to the rolling hills of Ireland. The concert featured an intriguing mix of performances, from Yeats poems set to song to melodies from British accordion player Chris Wood, like “Mrs. Sags.” A highlight of the night was the humorous and engaging “Miss Fogerty’s Christmas Cake,” a song about the perils of fruitcake.

John Nowak, a local music promoter and custodian at the Town Hall, was the mastermind behind the festive gathering. The idea was born from a casual conversation with Sobol, who came into Town Hall in November to pay his water bill. Town Supervisor Victoria Perotti had shared with Nowak that she was disappointed there wasn’t going to be a holiday event at Town Hall this year because the usual children’s program is taking place at Webutuck. Nowak floated the idea to Sobol, and the evening took shape quickly and seamlessly.

The nucleus of the band plays every Sunday at the Bulls Bridge Inn in Kent, and Paton, a regular at these Sunday gatherings, provided the sound system for the evening. The event came together organically and was a delightful gift to local residents, who packed the auditorium, filling it with a warm, celebratory atmosphere. Nowak aptly remarked, “Everyone is going to walk away from this evening saying, ‘Wow.’”

Indeed, the concert was more than just a musical event; it was a beacon of warmth in challenging times. The blend of Celtic tunes, holiday spirit and communal joy served as a reminder of the power of music to bring people together, offering joy and hope in the heart of the holiday season.

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