What is the ultimate team “sport”? A handbell choir! You’ll be forgiven if that answer did not spring immediately to mind. Actually, in England, handbell choirs are known as handbell teams. Imagine a piano played by ten different people where each person plays two to four keys. Replace the keys with a set of bells and you’ve got a handbell choir. Most ringers play one bell in each hand, but some talented ringers can play two or three in each hand! Handbells are heard most often in churches, but did you know that P.T. Barnum had a bell choir as part of his circus? Handbells became popular in New England in the early 20th century, although at that time, they had to be imported from England. First Church owns two sets of Schulmerick handbells, spanning four octaves.
The Music on High Concert Series of First Church of Christ Congregational is presenting a handbell concert on March 1 at 4 p.m. featuring the Sonotori adult choir and the Campanelli youth choir. Janet Banks started Campanelli in the early 1980s; Sonotori was started by Janet and her daughter, Anne, a decade later. Now the Sonotori is led by Elizabeth Kaplan, a veteran ringer of both choirs, while the Campanelli choir is led by Noah Smith, Director of Music Ministry at the church.
There are handbell harmonies for every ear. Handbell music is specifically composed or arranged for handbell ringing. This concert will contain a mix of sacred music and familiar popular tunes. In addition to the handbells, the ringers will play an assortment of chimes and mallets, as well as employing various techniques to liven up the show. Please join us on March 1 to hear some spectacular ringing!