Handbell Ensembles perform in fall concert

With the sounds of handbells ringing throughout Ruth Lilly Performance Hall on Oct. 24, the Beginning and Advanced handbell ensembles performed under the direction of Assistant Professor of Music Peter Nichols. 

The handbell ensembles are a part of a class that Nichohls teaches. There are 20 in the begginers class and 9 in the advanced class. 

The beginning ensemble opened the concert with “UIndy Alma Mater” and then performed “Kiss the Girl” from “The Little Mermaid.” They went on to perform “The Wizard of Oz” the group finished with a piece named “Rondo Celebration,” Nichols said that the piece was written specifically for the beginning ensemble.

“Very rhythmic, very driving and it should be a lot of fun,” Nichols said.  “And I do love that is was written for that group, but specifically the director that I studied under….”

After the beginning ensemble finished their performance, Nichols introduced the ensembles to the crowd and took time to explain the design of the bell. 

Nichols told the crowd that in his class, they will do what they call bad joke Thursdays, but told his students they had to wait until the concert for the bad joke that he also told the audience.

The advanced ensemble began their portion of the concert with “Candle on the Water” from the movie “Pete’s Dragon.” The ensemble was then joined by junior music therapy major Moira John, who played trumpet for the piece “Trumpet Tune Fanfare.” 

They performed “They’ll Know We Are Christians” but instead of playing with handbells, they used chimes. Nichols said that chimes are played like the bells, but sound different and are more mellow. The group finished out the concert with an arrangement of “Kum Ba Yah.”

The beginners handbell ensemble performed during a concert on Oct. 24. in Ruth Lily Perfromance Hall. The performance was a part of a class that Peter Nichols teaches.
Photo by Shylah Gibson

Sophomore criminal justice major Dakiya Jenkins is a member of the advanced handbell ensemble. She said that her favorite song that she performed at the concert was “Candle on the Water.” She said that it was the best song and took her interest.

“I played most of the time and my notes kind of held up the back of the song and it’s really nice and I actually like the movie, so it made a nice connection for me,” Jenkins said.

Senior music therapy major Rachel Brinson is also a member of the advanced ensemble and said her favorite piece that she performed was “They’ll Know We Are Christians.” 

Brinson said she sings it in church a lot and she liked being able to hear the song in a different way than she has heard it before.

“I like the chimes and the effect that it gave to it,” Brinson said. “It just had this different feel to it, I’m used to hearing it [played on the] piano and sung with a choir or the congregation, so just having it as an instrumental piece and the certain ambiance that the chimes give just made it extra.”

On Dec. 5 the ensembles will play for their entire class time in Schwitzer Student Center to benefit United Way, Nichols said. 

“We will be accepting donations at that one and those donations will go straight to the university’s United Way campaign, which benefits people right here in central Indiana, which is fantastic,” Nichols said.

Both ensembles will be playing at the Christmas concerts that will be taking place on Dec. 6 and 8 in Ruth Lilly Performance Hall in Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center, according to Nichols. 

They will be going around and performing Christmas carols, as they do each Christmas season Nichols said.

“We try to go out and we park ourselves in various locations around the campus and play a couple tunes,” Nichols said, “like pop in ‘Surprise, hey, here we are’ pop out, go somewhere else and play a couple [songs] somewhere else.”