“Silver Bells” isn’t just for Christmas anymore. The handbell choir won’t disappear with the first sounds of spring. In fact, they will help usher it in.
For several years, the Candlelight Christmas concert at Central has featured a small handbell ensemble. In the past, the group only began meeting a month or two before the concert, which was their only performance of the year. That changed in the fall when junior music major Mackenzie Uhlenhopp took directorship of the handbell ensemble. Uhlenhopp has also given the group a new Dutch name: Kerstbellen Choir.
The group has expanded to 14 members, and they have already had several performances this semester, including the Church Music Symposium in Des Moines on Feb. 23. They were also special guests at the Symphonic Wind Ensemble’s concert on March 3.
The name handbell choir conjures up the idea of several people ringing bells all at once. That is certainly not the case. Playing in a handbell choir takes expert counting and control. When the choir played on March 3, the sound of the bells resonated throughout Douwstra Auditorium, and the audience responded with delight. The sound created by the bells is unique and lighthearted.
Uhlenhopp enjoys directing the Kerstbellen Choir. “It is different instrumentation than what I am used to,” she says. “All the bells ringing at the same time is a beautiful sound. The members are all good musicians who love to make music.”
The Kerstbellen Choir will perform on April 12 and 14 with the College Community Chorus and Orchestra, during the Fringe Festival April 24-27 and at ROCK-A-PELLA on April 26.