December 2018

Christmas Bells at Chatsworth House

Ringing the  bells at Christmas time is different from any other time of the year. Ringing Christmas carols on handbells is somehow special and the highlight of our year and ringing at Chatsworth House, in the Marble Hall, is extra special. Well, that is what a group of us did on Thursday 20th December.

It takes about an hour to get there so we set off around 4ish to arrive and set up to ring around 5.30 - 6.00pm ( all dressed accordingly in our thermals...the words ‘marble hall’ gives you an inkling that it might not be the warmest of places!)

We were met and it was explained to us that they were running late. Apparently, it was the day the House gives a Christmas party for the children of the village and they were running late and as it was held in the Great Hall no visitors were...

An Evening with Whiston WI

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On Thursday December 13th, the team visited Whiston Village Hall to play for the Whiston WI.

We received a very warm welcome, and enjoyed a delicious supper - a selection of hot and cold food, followed by indulgent puddings.

We played most of the pieces which we performed at our own recent concert, with a few extra carols added for the audience to join in with.

Wendy earnestly prompted us to keep focused ( and to keep smiling!) which we really tried to do..in spite of a few things going wrong. A music stand fell off the table, carrying the music with it, which heightened anxiety levels, but was no doubt entertaining for the audience. We carried on regardless, congratulating ourselves afterwards on our increasingly professional approach in soldiering on.

Wendy quoted some common handbell sayings during her introduction:

“The right note rung at the wrong time is a wrong...

Christmas Magic!

The hall is decked, the guests arrive.  Chris our Compère stands.  The audience settles.  We are ready.  Let the magic begin!

Bells and Belles weave a web that binds us all into a single spellbound entity for the whole evening.

Songs of the ‘40s with their lovely catchy tunes, beautifully sung with energy and joy, by The Heath Belles, complemented by their stylish ‘40s costumes, transport us into a different era.

Techniques on bells and hand chimes (from huge to tiny) create effects that enrich the sound: singing bells, martellato, martellato lift, thumb damping, shelleying, malleting, suspended malleting, echoes, giro and ring touch are all deployed. Sonja’s beautiful flute accompanies "Ding Dong Merrily on High" and Callum’s drumming in “The West Indies Carol” helps to bring the Caribbean right into Alton.

Three months ago, we wondered if we would ever learn the combination of bell techniques Wendy planned for us...