My wife and I decided to attend the 19th annual Handbells Concert at the Highland United Methodist Church this past weekend. It wasn't a completely serendipitous choice, since she plays in the bell choir at our church.
What great sounds they made! The bell choirs used both hand bells and hand chimes and employed a number of techniques to make a great variety of sounds from those instruments. Sometimes they just rang the bells, sometimes they laid the bells down and struck them with small mallets, sometimes they just banged the bells down on the table, which produced its own muted notes. The techniques were wonderful in their ability to make these simple instruments sound like something else. Then there were the chimes, which have their own rich tones and sound completely different than the bells.
Each choir performed a few numbers separately. Tom Gorton, from the Highland United Methodist Choir did a solo that was very nice and I'm sure very difficult, since it involved holding several bells at once but ringing them individually. There was a choir duet involving the Brighton United Methodist and Highland United Methodist choirs and a grand finish that combined the ringers from all four churches. What an unbelievable delight that was! It was just amazing what 70+ ringers, using all of the techniques and instrument types at once could produce - very much like the full rich sound of a full pipe church organ.
The Highland United Methodist plans a special concert for next year's 20th anniversary concert. I'll make sure it is on the Community Events Calendar at my Web site - www.movetomilford.com so that you can plan to attend, too. It really is a well spent hour and a wonderful experience to sit through.