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Bells Or Bells? And Belles

Do you remember the time, or is it all hearsay

When we used to meet, every time on a  Wednesday

We used to start on the dot, at seven o'clock

For us all to ring bells, together en bloc.

 

The tunes used to flow with a regular beat

But remember it's not liked, if you tap your feet.

To help us achieve this and  keep us in time

There’s Wendy with arms waving, so sublime

 

The tunes are so varied some fast and some slow.

Occasionally someone has a one note solo,

If this is the case make sure you don't miss it

So play it with gusto and you'll get the credit.

 

The sessions will finish after two hours at nine

We have been known to have red or white wine

The occasion is only when it's someones birthday

so we round off the evening with a short soiree

 

One day a visitor came to surprise us

An unwelcome guest in the form of a virus

So meetings were canceled, no longer could we meet

Stay two meters apart when you walk down the street.

 

I'm missing these evenings of laughter and fun

But we all will be back when the dark days are done.

In the meantime I decided,to replicate these days

In a way that reflects my inimitable ways.

 

I wanted to energize, keep active my brain cells

So up to the loft to get my collection of Bells.

When last Wednesday came and  at seven o'clock

I started my practice a new skill to unlock

 

The Bells were lined up a full octave at least

Then practice began and the Bells number decreased

The tempo was steady, at the beginning

But before long, my head it was spinning.

 

The first tune that came out was by AC/DC

Titled of course 'Have a Drink On Me'

This was then followed by Metallica

A good old favourite, 'Whiskey in the Jar.'

 

It was Nine o'clock now, it had soon come around    

My feet were unsteady let alone tap  the ground.

My evening hadn't gone quite as I planned

The sound that I made was not AHR band.

 

I look forward to the day, when isolation is completed

And the unwanted guest we have finally defeated.

So look after yourselves and we will then ring those bells

See you soon Alan, Dave and all you wonderful BELLES

Peter Walker 8.4.20

Alton Handbell Ringers open evening

Have you ever wondered what is involved with ringing music on handbells? Now is your opportunity to find out.

The Alton Handbell Ringers ring on up to 5 octaves of handbells and handchimes and are offering an entertaining evening introducing the traditional art of handbell ringing with a chance to 'have a go'. Come along to St. Peter's Church Alton on Wednesday 15th April at 7pm for a demonstration, to learn about the origins of tune ringing on handbells, the sounds that different techniques can produce and a chance to 'have a go' at a simple arrangement.

We are looking to recruit this year so you never know, you might like to join us. Refreshments will be provided. For further information please contact Wendy Walters by email altonhandbells@gmail.com or look at our website www.altonhandbellringers.org.uk

We look forward to seeing you!

Wendy Walters

Musical Director

Concert at St Giles Church, Croxden, Friday 6 December 2019

For our last full team concert of the festive season, we had been invited to the tiny church at Croxden, just a few miles from Alton. It was beautifully decorated and had a huge Christmas tree beside the altar. It was also beautifully warm, a great bonus.

Because the church is so small, organising our tables was a bit like a jigsaw puzzle – we had to all fit together properly to get the picture (sound) right! We are usually in a wide horseshoe shape with the smallest bells at one end and the big bells (which need a lot of room) at the other, running chromatically. Here, to get the sound balance right, the smaller higher bells were positioned in front of the altar rail on one side, not exactly squashed, but very cosy; some of bass bells were on the other side with rather more room. The mid-range bells were arranged at 90 degrees in the aisle between the choir stalls with Wendy and her baton almost with arm’s reach. Alan, with the very large bells and hand chimes, was very pleased to have two whole tables to himself, though he was very close to the audience. The only space left for me to go with the jingle bells which played in two pieces (Takeda Rhapsody and, yes, Jingle Bells) was in the pulpit! Although it seemed very strange at first, we were delighted with the acoustics and found that we could hear each other ringing much better than usual.

 

Peter and Grace (piano and voice), accompanied by Anthony on drums, who were appearing with us, managed to squeeze into the space between the altar and the altar rail, though Peter looked at first as though he might have to fight with the tinsel on the tree...

For this concert we kept to our previous repertoire with a range of classical and popular music as well as music written specifically for handbells, in the first half, and Christmas music in the second. Peter and Grace performed a variety of songs from the 40s through to the 70s – there was some singalong - before the interval, when everyone could enjoy mulled wine and mince pies. At the end, we sang three carols, accompanied by Peter on the piano. I must admit I’d never sung ‘While Shepherds Watched’ to the tune on ‘On Ilkla Moor Baht Tat’ before, although I gather this hymn tune ‘Cranbrook’ predates the song. I had to remember which words to sing!

We had a lovely appreciative audience and a good night out. Thank you Croxden for your hospitality and a Merry Christmas to all.

Lindsay Trevarthen 9 December 2019

Our new Christmas CD is now available!

We had an enjoyable summer recording Christmas pieces for our new CD, Ding-Dong Merrily. They are available for £8 each, £4 of which goes to the Donna Louise, hospice care for children and young people.


For your copy get in touch at altonhandbells@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

Christmas Carols at Shugborough Hall 2019

A lovely bright Saturday morning, not too cold, but better take plenty of layers as this afternoon we are playing at Shugborough Hall. Past experience tells us it will not be very warm and standing for a couple of hours ringing handbells the chill sets in.

Sue arrived first, only to discover at reception that they were not expecting us! A phone call to Wendy, whose phone was in the boot of the car, and then to myself, assured her that through lack of communication at Shugborough we definitely were booked to play today.

We arrived in plenty of time fortunately, as from the car park it is quite a way to the Mansion House; no buggy in sight, so best foot forward, carrying all our equipment and bells, we set off down the road. On arrival we were given a warm welcome and we set up our music stands and bells just off the entrance hall and prepared to play.

We played a variety of Christmas Carols, working our way through our repertoire, which took about 45 minutes. Plenty of people wandered through  and commented how lovely the bells sounded throughout the house.  A number of people stood around to listen and plenty of money went into our collecting box for the Donna Louise Hospice, the charity we support.

We then had a short break of about 10 minutes, for a sandwich and drink, apart from Dave, who never did manage to have his cup of coffee as more people were approaching and Wendy decided we had better play again.

The buggy driver came to ask what time we would be finished ringing as he would drive us back to reception which was very welcome.

We played through most of the carols again and, if any children came by, we played Jingle Bells, as we have some small jingle bells for them to ring along with us. A number of children took part including a little boy of about 18 months old who rang with great enthusiasm.

At 3pm we packed up our bells and headed to the clock tower for our lift back to reception. We were very grateful for the ride as it was beginning to get chilly as the sun had disappeared. After loading our things back in the car we headed for home after a really enjoyable afternoon.

Josie Bettany 7.12.19

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