Those wanting to get into the spirit of Christmas need only hear the sweet brass ring of Vernon’s Bell Amente Handbell Choir.
Based at Vernon’s First Baptist Church, the three-octave choir (that’s 38 bells ranging from high C to low C, including flats and sharps) started performing approximately eight years ago.
Conducted by Dwight Holmberg, who also leads a five-octave bell choir at First United Church in Kelowna, the all-female group meets once a week to rehearse and plays a set of brass bells more than 20 years old.
“They are very valuable,” said Holmberg, adding the group wears gloves while playing to prevent the acids on their hands from eating away at the brass.
Each “ringer” plays approximately three bells each, and although it helps to be able to read music, it is not necessary, he added.
“In a big choir, the maximum number of bells usually includes two major notes, plus sharps and flats, and some have up to 10 bells each. Your hands are moving all the time,” said Holmberg.
“Any age can play,” added Bell Amente member Mary Combe. “It’s wonderful to come together and do what we enjoy. I’ve made 11 new friends.”
As one can imagine, Christmas is the busiest time of year for the handbell choir, which will be performing in church as well as at local seniors homes for the holiday season.
Bell Amente performs at First Baptist Church, located at the corner of 32nd Avenue and 15th Street in East Hill, Sunday, Dec. 1 during morning service at 10 a.m. The public is welcome to attend.
The choir also performs at Canterbury Court Dec. 4 at 1:30 p.m. and at Vernon Restholm Dec. 5 at 2 p.m.
For a video of the handbell choir in performance, visit www.vernonmorningstar.com.