MIDDLETOWN, New York–Belles of the Hudson Valley presented their annual handbell concert on June 20 at the United Presbyterian Church in Middletown, N.Y. Joining them were vocalists from Middletown High School.
The Belles performed a medley of works by Robert Schumann, “Allegro” by G.H. Handel, and several contemporary pieces.
Three of the high school performers have graduated and plan on continuing their education. Shelyce Fitzgerald, a junior, has one more year to go. Shavon Lloyd is a multi-talented performer who accompanied Kelly Simmons, Raymond Case, and Ms. Fitzgerald, and gave a powerful rendition of “Someone to Fall Back On.”
A handbell choir demands listening to another musician who may play only one note. To ring a handbell, a ringer grasps the bell by its slightly flexible handle, and moves the wrist to make the hinged clapper inside the bell strike. A bell ensemble acts as one instrument, with each musician responsible for particular notes, sounding his or her assigned bells whenever that note appears in the music.
Handbell choirs generally perform music composed or arranged specifically for the instruments. All the ringers read from a complete score. Director Pat McCullough said the ringers wear gloves so as not to get sweat on the instrument which can change the sound.
To ring a handbell, the ringer moves it in such a way that the clapper strikes the inside surface of the bell, usually holding it against his or her shoulder, bell-upwards, and then swinging the bell through an elliptical shape to cause the clapper to strike the casting of the bell.
Depending on the number of bells needed for a particular piece of music and the number of ringers in a choir, it may be necessary for each ringer to ring more than two bells at a time or in short succession. There are also many techniques that change the sound of the bell as it is rung.
When the concert ended, the Belles invited others to join the bell choir. Each bell ringer has several bells to play and would like to share their bells. Performers Linda Fairweather, Janis Hoover, Lynn Kummer, Jennifer Logedo, Pay Noll, Jean Scantlebury, and Ella Mae Snook hail from the Middletown area.
The Belles made music that echoed within the audience long after the concert concluded.
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