Handbell Choir Festival

Immediately after worship on April 14, First Congo’s handbell choir, the Coventry Ringers, packed up three van loads of handbells, equipment, and 12 people and headed to Milwaukee Lutheran High School for the 26th Milwaukee Area Handbell Festival. Eating lunch on the road saved just enough time so that we were able to arrive and set up our bells before rehearsal started at 1:30. If you’ve never been to a handbell festival it’s quite an experience! In this case, 15 other handbell choirs from around the region were also participating.  Each choir had been learning a group of musical selections since last September that would be presented at the festival concert that evening.

Upon our arrival in Milwaukee, we found our placement position and unpacked everything. This year’s conductor, Cynthia Dobrinski, is one of the most recognized names in the world of handbell music.  Cynthia has been composing and conducting for more than 30 years, and has been instrumental (pardon the pun) in spreading the joys of handbell ringing around the world. I’ve worked with Cynthia several times before and really wanted our choir members to experience working with her. Under her direction, all of the choirs spent time fine-tuning the music that we had been working on for six months.  After the rehearsal, the choirs got time off for dinner and to rest their feet. Standing on a gymnasium floor can be pretty tough on the feet.

At 6:30pm the concert’s opening bell was rung and we were ready to go! Little more than an hour later, after all the pieces had been rung, final remarks made by the festival committee, the closing bell was rung and another successful festival was concluded.  The equipment was re-packed. The packing list was double-checked. And after a short stop for coffee, we headed back to Madison! It was a very long day, but everyone had a great time and we look forward to attending the 27th festival in 2015.

The handbell choir will be ringing again in worship on May 19. After worship, please take a few minutes after worship to come see our bells, and handchimes, up close. Ask about our trip to Milwaukee, the fun and challenge of learning to ring a new piece, how the ringers felt the first time they walked into a handbell rehearsal. There’s a place in the handbell choir for YOU!

Don DeBruin


Posted on April 30, 2013 at 11:26 am in Music and Featured.

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