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Harpist to entertain at benefit

Bismarck harpist Gayla Sherman likes to share her musical talents for weddings, receptions and special events. Her next public appearance is in Dickinson on Saturday when she entertains during the United Way of Dickinson wine tasting and silent auction.

She likes the flexibility of the harp, citing its ability to play classical, pop and folk music. She's even played country and jazz blues.

Harp music is described as soothing warm vibrations -- much to the delight of her pet dog, Madison, a soft-coated wheaten terrier.

"We have three dogs, a chocolate lab, a wheaten terrier and Lhasa Apso mutt, but every time I sit down at the harp to practice, the terrier comes and plops on the floor and stays until I'm done," she said.

Sherman began her musical studies in piano at age 6. She continued her music education with the addition of harp studies in Madison, Wis., at age 8.

She's had several harps over the years, but every harp is hand-made, she said.

"Back in the day, it took two years to make, now it takes 6 months. The nice thing about harps is they appreciate in value."

During her early years, she played with a youth symphony in Madison. She has studied with harpists, Margaret Cooper in Madison, Jean Altshuler in San Antonio, and Gayle Barrington in Austin, Texas. She has played with the University of Texas harp ensemble, as well as civic and community orchestras in Wisconsin, Texas, Kentucky, Missouri and Kansas.

Moving from Kansas City to Bismarck in 2004, Sherman continues to perform independently and with the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony, Missouri Valley Chamber Orchestra and North Dakota's All-state Band and Orchestra.

Sherman and her husband, Gayle Klopp, serve as co-executive directors for Charles Hall Youth Services in Bismarck. Founded in 1965 by the United Church of Christ, its mission is to serve at-risk youth. Charles Hall youth services serves nearly 100 at-risk adolescents and youth each year through its residential group home program, according to a press release.

"The thing I love most about playing is at night -- it relaxes me and is a wonderful stress reliever at Charles Hall," she said. "I go into a group home at night and it helps the kids relax."

Sherman is looking forward to the Dickinson performance.

"I think very highly of United Way," she said. "I see this as a fun event. I'll probably play a mixture of classical traditions, pop tunes and folk tunes."