(March 1, 2013) More than 600 handbell ringers will gather at the Ocean City convention center next week, March 8-9, for the annual Handbell Musicians of America, Area III spring festival.
Event coordinator Debbie Henning said that, as of last Friday, 622 ringers had registered for the festival — 575 for the Massed Choir and 47 in the Genesis (beginner) ringing group.
Most ringers participate with their regular handbell choirs, though the festival is open to individual ringers, as well.
Registration is still open. The cost is $110 per ringer. The festivals are designed for full or partial handbell choirs and/or individual ringers from middle-school age and older.
Ringers will arrive Friday, March 8, and begin rehearing en masse that night. Saturday morning and early afternoon will include massed ringing or educational classes.
The Genesis concert, featuring beginner-level ringers, is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 9. The concert, which is not open to the public, will feature guest conductor Carol Feather Martin from Arlington, Va.
A concert at 4:30 p.m. that evening in the second floor ballroom of the 40th Street venue will include nearly 600 ringers playing en masse. All are welcome to attend the free performance, which will feature guest conductor Michael Helman from Cape Coral, Fla. The group will present five pieces.
“There will be four pieces that the entire 575 ringers will play en masse. One additional piece will be played by an auditioned group of four choirs, the Bronze Festival Choir,” Henning said.
She described the experience of hearing the ringers perform en masse as “awesome.”
“[It’s] like nothing that you have heard before,” Henning said.
Handbell Musicians of America is a nonprofit organization established in 1954 to promote the art of English handbell ringing. The guild is divided into 12 geographical areas. Area III is comprised Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina, and it also includes the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. area.
For information, visit www.areaiii.org, call Henning at 410-848-5482 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.