The Bel Canto Handbell Choir rehearses every week September through May on Mondays starting at 7 pm. This amazingly talented group performs often in both worship services as well as holding 2-3 concerts per year.
Bel Canto in Italian translates to "pretty song" and the name fits perfectly the music produced by this talented group. The Bel Canto Handbell Choir rings 5 octaves of English bells, the lowest octave beginning on C below the bass staff and the highest octave ending high above the treble staff. A ringer is usually responsible for two pitches (such as A and B) and generally for the ringing of 3 or 4 bells (two at a time). In the extremely high range, ringers may often ring two bells in each hand, while in the low range, ringers usually only ring one at a time due to to the size and weight of the bells.
Whereas the Bel Canto Handbell Choir rings songs, handbells had their origin in change ringing, a system of ringing various patterns of notes with bells in the towers of churches. In the early years of the 17th century, bell ringers in villages competed for prizes in change ringing contests, and the practice times on the large church bells often annoyed the villagers. Handbells were acquired to permit ringers to practice their changes in the basement of the church. Ringing a "song" on handbells became popular in this country in the 1950's, and here at St. Andrew's, our group is perfecting the art.