Friday 4 August, The Edge, Sheffield University.
Wendy Walters, AHR Musical Director, flanked by Elizabeth Treweeks and Ruth Cantlay.
Photo by Alan Walters
The conductors for this handbell concert included the main man of the Singapore music scene, Damien Lim, the advanced American conductor, Michael Glasgow and maestro, Helen Secker, from this country.
The team of Ringers, including Wendy Walters, our Musical Director, had spent the week at Sheffield University learning to play a new set of handbell music which culminated in a grand public performance on Friday night.
We, a group of five members of our Alton Handbell Ringers team, had the honour of attending the concert last Friday night and were impressed and held spellbound by the performance.
The array of bells laid out before us when we took our seats was amazing, ranging from tiny bells to huge bells, some of which were too heavy to pick up and ring and so had to be malletted on the table. There were also chimes, boomwhackers and percussion instruments.
A section of the chimes were so big they had to be mounted on a stand and were rung wth mallets.
The opening music was 'Polaris and the Northern Lights'. This piece was commissioned for the 50th anniversary of the Handbell Ringers of Great Britain (HRGB) and was composed by Brendon Bevan from Toronto. Our Alton Handbell team has added this item to our repertoire.
It began as a quiet, haunting, ethereal sound which built up and crescendoed into loud, moving, sustained notes, which faded away at the end. It was very moving.
A Beatles number was next, 'Here Comes the Sun'. We heard beautiful runs from the high bells, a rhythmic mix of mallets and damping of the larger bells, with chimes giving another dimension and elevation to the whole sound.
'Resound', composed by Karen Thompson, was an apt title as the bells were ringing out in rounds and peals, following on from one another in circles of resonating sound. There was also amazing use of ring touches on the table from the big bells.
The theme tune from 'Sesame Street' was next, where some of the ringers played Boom whackers: coloured tubes, which they could bang on anything handy to produce a musical sound! The Ringers were brimming with joy in this one and were engaged and happy. It was bright and jolly with a drum rhythm and chimes lifting the tone.
'Recollection', composed by Tim Woore, was a mindful piece of music, calming and thoughtful, transporting the audience to higher realms of fantasy and peace; a chance to switch off from reality.
The final piece of the evening was Elgar's 'Pomp and Circumstance', a stirring and upbeat rendition, very regal with lots of trills; some bells were played 4 in hand. The plucking technique on the big bells was very effective.
I found the whole evening very magical and enjoyable; well done to the whole team of Ringers!