Handbell conference on campus to feature performances

handbell performanceA pair of public performances are among the highlights with hundreds of members of the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers visiting campus for two conferences this week.

The 2007 Area II Festival Conference and Young Ringers Festival brings many of the 950 members in the region, which includes New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ontario.

During their conferences, the handbell ringers learn music and techniques that culminate in their closing performances.

Nearly 500 handbell ringers will showcase their skills for the community with a free performance at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 1, in the Campus Center. Adults ranging in age from 15 to 85 years old will attend the Festival Conference from June 28 to July 1.

Around 130 members of the Youth Ringers (pictured), from grades 3 to 8, performed a free concert to an overflow crowd on Thursday, June 28, in the Hewitt Union ballroom. The youngsters’ gathering on campus spanned June 26 to 28.

“I strongly encourage the community to come to our festival on Sunday when we have a massed music performance,” said Kathie Bittenbender, chair of the guild’s Area II region. “It is an awesome experience for everyone to see and hear.”

English handbells have distinctive clappers that move on a hinge, back and forth along one axis instead of freely in all directions. After a strike, a spring holds the clapper away from the bell to allow it to resonate fully. Handbells can weigh as little as 4 ounces to upwards of 22 pounds.

Handbell ensembles such as those that will perform at SUNY Oswego have bells with all the notes of the chromatic scale and a range of two to seven-and-a-half octaves, allowing ringers to perform music with melodies and harmony.

The conductors of the choirs visiting Oswego bring extensive experience with this unique instrument.

Tim Waugh, who conducts the Festival group, is known nationally and internationally in several musical fields and chairs the department of music and division of fine arts at Pike View High School in Princeton, W. Va.

Howard Mosher Jr., conductor of the Youth Ringers, has directed handbells for more than 29 years and serves as minister of music at Glenshaw Presbyterian Church near Pittsburgh.

Overall, the guild has 7,500 members throughout North America dedicated to music preservation, education and community building through performances and gatherings.

For more information about the conferences or organization, visit www.agehr.org.

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(Posted: Jun 07, 2007)