Ringing in the springtime with the Handbell Choir

Photo by cas sweeney ‘19 | On April 23, the Handbell Choir performed in their Spring Ring! Concert.

 

Cas Sweeney ‘19
Associate Editor

The Handbell Choir had their Spring Ring! Concert on April 23. The event was a short 45 minutes but the whole event was filled with breathtaking music.

The performance was broken up into two sections, with different students participating in each one. As they switched songs, the versatility of the students’ musical ability shined through.

They opened with “Early One Morning,” a traditional English song. Throughout the performance, the Handbell Choir moved from classical music to songs from musicals. At the end of the performance, they played “Puff (The Magic Dragon)” followed by “All You Need Is Love,” which gave the finale a cheerful, fun aura.

Another impressive aspect of the show was the range of instruments they played. I went into the show with an image in my mind of a bunch of people ringing bells like wind chimes. There were, of course, bells, but I was surprised to find how many different ways a person can ring a bell.

First of all, the bells ranged in size from smaller than a hand to larger than my head, and as the show went on the bells moved around the table, being passed down from student to student. I was amazed by the performers’ confidence that they had the right bells. There was no hesitation or label-reading to make sure they were holding the right bell, and through this assurance, their talent and training were made abundantly clear.

Some students rang the bells by sharply moving their hand forward, which made the classic bell sound with which I was familiar. Other students hit the bells against the table, which created a beautiful lower chime. Later, they brought out mallets, which transformed the notes into something like that of a large xylophone.

The music was rounded out with the addition of a triangle, a wooden block and hand chimes which the conductor described as “like beautiful doorbells.” The combination of all these sounds created an amazing performance, especially with the range of song choices.

During the end of the first half, the choir played two Mozart songs in a row, “Romanza” and “Menuetto.” As an introduction to the songs, the conductor told the audience, “Mozart is easy to listen to and hard to play.” As I am not a musician, I cannot speak to whether the latter is true, but I agree wholeheartedly with the former. Especially with the Handbell Choir as the performers, I found those two songs mesmerizing to hear.

Apart from the music itself, my favorite part of the concert was how friendly the atmosphere was.  Between songs the conductor spoke to the audience about song choices, students performances and information about playing handbells. The audience clapped enthusiastically throughout the concert and occasionally took out their phones to take photos and videos of their favorite parts of the show.

At the end of the concert, the conductor invited the audience up to the stage to talk with the performers and try out the bells. He suggested that the audience attempt to ring bells of different sizes to get an idea of how much planning goes into each note.

The audience flowed onto the stage, trying different instruments and congratulating the performers. The choir answered questions from members of the community about playing handbells and took pictures with their families and the bells.

Overall, the concert was amazing. The happy atmosphere made the whole experience relaxed and comfortable, and the music was unlike anything I had ever heard. If you ever get the chance to see the Handbell Choir perform, I recommend that you do whatever you can not to miss it.

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