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As soon as people found out the Raleigh Ringers ó a handbell choir ó would be performing at Keppel Auditorium, the buzz started. It was loudest among handbell choirs, but it wasn’t confined to them.
Judy Newman of Salisbury has seen the Ringers perform and can’t wait to hear them again.
“They are awesome!” she said. “You just cannot imagine what a group of musicians can do with handbells and percussion instruments.”
The Raleigh Ringers are the creme de la creme of handbell choirs, an internationally acclaimed, advanced community handbell choir of 17 based in Raleigh.
Since 1990, The Raleigh Ringers have been dazzling audiences with their interpretations of sacred, secular and popular music, including rock and roll arranged just for handbells.
Imagine a handbell choir playing the Scorpions’ “Rock You Like A Hurricane” while wearing tie-dyed shirts and wigs.
The Ringers started to gain serious notoriety in 1992 when they appeared on a morning radio program in the Triangle area. At the end of the performance, they played “Stairway to Heaven.”
Listeners loved it, and their reputation grew from there.
If handbell rock sounds like a bit much, don’t worry; most of the Ringers’ repertoire is classical and sacred music.
Directed by David Harris, the Ringers are a group of truly exceptional musicians.
Handbell players sometimes travel from across the country to compete for unpaid positions that require them to practice three and a half hours a week and perform several dozen concerts a year.
Adam Ward, the music director at First United Methodist Church, says the Ringers are one of the premiere handbell groups in the nation and that we are “most fortunate” to have them performing in Salisbury.
“They play incredibly intricate and difficult music unlike most of what is heard played by church handbell choirs,” says Ward, who directs several handbell choirs at First United Methodist. “They also have one of the largest and most extensive collections of bells and chimes.”
The group travels with at least two seven-octave sets of bells, three five-octave sets, and a seven-octave set of chimes, as well as a battery of other percussion instruments, Ward says.
The 350 bells used by the choir are valued at about $200,000.
Of handbell choirs in general, Ward says, “They aren’t just about the music; they are also about visual artistry.”
The Raleigh Ringers have released four CDs and a DVD of a holiday concert titled “One Winter Evening at Meymandi.” This same concert was also broadcast on more than 250 public television stations in 44 states.
The group has performed in 34 states and in several cities in France during its tours, and plays two dates each year at a major venue in Raleigh. They also sponsor a yearly festival for children who play handbells and a festival for advanced adult ringers.
The Aug. 26 concert, hosted by Faith Lutheran Church, will start at 4 p.m. at Catawba’s Keppel Auditorium with doors opening at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20 (no group rate available).
Tickets are available at Bible Book Store Salisbury, Country Christian Books and Gifts Granite Quarry and Footsteps Christian Books and Gifts in Concord.
You can also get tickets by sending a check made payable to “Faith Lutheran Church”; note “Raleigh Ringers tickets” in the memo and mail to: Randall Barger, PO Box 760, Faith, NC 28041.
For more information about the Salisbury concert, call 704-279-2500.
For more information about the Raleigh Ringers, go to their Web site at www. rr.org.
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Contact Katie Scarvey at 704-797-4270 or kscarvey@salisburypost.com.

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