You could have been forgiven for thinking that Santa had come early to Capel on Thursday 4th December – especially if you’d heard the sound of sleighbells! It was, in fact, the very harmonious and mellow sound of the Phoenix Handbell Ringers who had come to perform some seasonal songs and tunes for us at our Capel Ladies December meeting!
There are six members in the Phoenix group who between them play bells with a range of three octaves, a total of 39 bells including the sharps and flats! They played a varied selection of music, from modern pieces like “The Snowman” to carols of medieval origin such as “Good King Wenceslas”, which apparently began life as a jig!
The bells they use are American, made of brass with flexible strong plastic handles, coloured white for the white notes and black for sharps and flats. They are very sensitive and the brass must not be touched by a naked hand or they will need re-polishing to maintain the pure note. The smallest bell alone is worth over £100, whilst the whole collection is insured for £8000!
At the end of their recital it was OUR turn! A number of us were each given a bell and the words of “While Shepherds Watched” with certain syllables in block letters to indicate when each of us should sound our particular be,ll. There was no rehearsal – we were straight in with the main performance – but it all sounded pretty good on the whole, considering we were making our debuts as handbell ringers!
Having been put in the Christmas mood we are now all ready for our Christmas Social in the Vine Lounge on December 18th! Thank you, Phoenix Handbell Ringers!