Friday 2nd September
24th August 2022
I arrived slightly apprehensive as to what lay ahead in the next 3 hours as Sandra Winter is a well known arranger of Handbell music and was invited to, hopefully, help us to improve our overall performance and give constructive criticism to make our concert performances more enjoyable, both for us as performers and also the audience. Wendy had chosen 4 pieces of music for us to concentrate on for the afternoon.
Firstly we played Meditation on Blaenwern with Wendy conducting. Sandra conducted next and taking small sections of the music in turn, she asked us to listen to each other and to our own bells so that we played at the correct timing and volume so as to improve the overall performance.
Our next piece was Shepherds Hey which is a piece played entirely using mallets to strike the bells. This is quite a fun piece to ring but does tend to get faster as we play it, so Wendy has trouble reining us in or decides to go with us. Sandra suggested we hold our mallets closer to the bells in order to keep better time and also to click mallets together more quietly which really made a difference to the overall effect.
Third on the agenda was You Raise Me Up. This is a beautiful piece of music and Sandra suggested several things to improve the overall performance particularly holding the bells out to let the sound resonate. When we play this piece well it really makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up!
The last piece of the afternoon is quite a new piece for us called Highland Cathedral. We all enjoy playing this piece of music which involves several techniques, singing bells, chimes and mallets as well as lots of bell changes. We played this really well.
This afternoon was completed by tea and cakes, and I hope everyone, like me, enjoyed the experience and gained from Sandra's expertise.
8th August 2022
On a very warm afternoon in August seven of us made our way to Derby for a 12 bell concert at Brookfields Nursing Home. To be precise we were 12 bells and 1 pair of chimes rung by Becky who, having not long joined us, has not rung a 12 bell concert before and very well she performed too. Her input on chimes added another dimension to our ringing.
A canopy had been erected outside but it was decided it was far too hot so we set up inside in a very pleasant room which was gradually filling up with residents. Some in wheelchairs, some more mobile ….just a minute has anyone seen Mavis?
First things first…. Who would like a glass of Pimm's? (one lady demanded wine!) It was kindly offered to us but we thought it better to decline as we can get easily confused even without the influence of alcohol! Was everyone ready? Mavis has made her appearance and is taking her seat, so the concert can begin.
A wide range of music was played from The Elton Boating Song, Champagne Charlie to Rule Britannia. Many of the audience hummed along and Singing in the Rain had a very good response, as did Rule Britannia. When Wendy announced the we were going to play Pomp and Circumstance one gentleman asked “which number?” Wendy was taken by surprise as she hadn’t been asked this before and had to admit that she didn’t know.
Sadly the gentleman couldn’t remember either. We must make sure we find out in case we are asked again.
Much interest was taken by the audience and many questions were asked especially about the hand chimes. Several had a go at ringing. Everyone said how much they had enjoyed the afternoon and we have been asked to perform again nearer to Christmas.
It was rather warm inside and not much different outside but it was very pleasant to sit under the canopy, enjoy a cold drink and relax a little before driving home.
We were pleased with our performance and look forward to returning later in the year.
Tuesday 26th July 2022
On a lovely sunny evening 6 members turned out to ring 12 bells to give an evening's entertainment for Cheadle Pensioners. This was my first visit to Cheadle Cricket club. What a wonderful setting it is especially on such a fine sunny evening with two teams, resplendent in their whites, creating a typical bucolic English evening. The sound of willow on leather and appeals and applause, added to the occasion. At one point at the end of one of our tunes we seemed to get applause from the cricketers but on refection it was more likely to have been for a magnificent catch or a good hit for six.
A good attendance of about 40 people turned out for our concert. It is always very pleasing when we play for good sized audience. The audience were given a very varied programme of tunes.
'Champagne Charlie' was very well received and several of the audience obviously recognised it and were humming along. In 'Singing in the Rain' the sound of imitation raindrops played on the bells with thumb damping was obviously picked up by the audience when a question about it was asked during the ‘question and answer’ session at the end. Many varied and interesting questions were asked by the audience. An invitation was given to the audience to come and have try at ringing. It was pleasing to see volunteers come forward and make a very good show of ringing for the first time.
Thank you to the group of volunteers who provided us with tea and biscuits at the end of the show.
In the first week of December our third full team Christmas concert took us south to the village of Doveridge where we had been invited to play for the Tuesday Group at the village hall. Yet again the weather wasn’t looking good (another snowy forecast!), but we all arrived in good time to set up, hoping for the best.
We were made very welcome and our audience was very appreciative of our ringing. As this was a performance at a small private event for about an hour, we had a reduced repertoire concentrating on our Christmas music, and afterwards we were invited to join them for festive (non-alcoholic!) refreshments, before we set off home replete with Christmas cheer, just catching the last bright sunshine that had appeared after all!