Ring To The World, the Ontario Guild of English Handbell Ringers‘ biennial handbell festival has been taking place at Carleton University the last couple of days. This is the second time in recent history it’s been held in Ottawa and this is the fourth or fifth Festival I’ve gone to in the almost 30 years I’ve been ringing bells.
There have been workshops on all sorts of things related to handbells from sessions for beginners to workshops on techniques such as four-in-hand to solo ringing to conducting to composing. There was even a workshop on the ergonomics of ringing. I signed up for a number of workshops, but I only ended up going to three of them. One was on change ringing, another was sight-reading some new music and the other was on advanced conducting techniques.
In addition to the workshops, there are a number of festival choirs, split up by the level of experience of the ringers and the difficulty of the music. The bell choir I usually ring with is in the bronze level, which is the highest level of the larger groups. I’m also ringing in the gold choir, which is doing a pair of quite challenging pieces. Adding to the challenge is the fact that the person leading the gold choir (and the bronze choir, too) is Tim Waugh, who wrote a number of the pieces.
Because the gold choir is made up of people from all over this is the first time many of them have played the pieces. (My regular choir had copies of the music so we ran through it a couple of times prior to Festival.) Thus, I’ve been doing a lot of ringing. Thursday evening, we rehersed for a couple of hours. Friday, I rang for about 6.5 hours, including the workshops. Today, I’ve rung for about 5 hours so far and the final concert is to come. So, I’ve been through the ringer. (Pun intended — substitute your own bell joke if you don’t like it.)
But there’s been more than ringing. After the practice yesterday evening, there were some step dancers who did some amazing tap dancing.
And then the Maria Hawkins Band was introduced. Maria Hawkins has visited a lot of schools over the years in support of an anti-bullying campaign. She’s also performed with a number of famous artists, too.
So, she started singing and interacting with the audience and at one point she said she needed an A. Well, someone grabbed an A off one of the tables. Then she said she also needed a C and a couple of other notes, so I went and grabbed a C5 while other people grabbed other notes. And then we jammed on Mustang Sally and some other songs. And we rocked!
I bet that’s the first time someone’s jammed with a D3 bell!
It’s about 20 minutes to showtime, so I’m going to post this and then start getting ready for yet more ringing.