Concert features unusual handbell choir

Posted: Monday, July 17, 2006

Wendy McPhetres was approached last November by a family friend wondering if her Seattle-area handbell choir, the Bells of the Sound, could help celebrate Haines Presbyterian Church's 125th anniversary.

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McPhetres, who first learned to play handbells at the church, thought organizing a 1,000-mile trip might be difficult for a 15-piece choir. But nine months later, here they are.

The Bells play at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Northern Light United Church.

"I threw it out there at one of the meetings: 'Hey, do you want to go to Alaska?'" McPhetres said. "We started to make it into a little tour."

Thursday's show features 15 songs including "Andromeda," written for the group's 2000 composition contest; "Uncommon Adoration" by Hart Morris; and traditional versions of "Anything Goes" and "Route 66."

Organist J Allan MacKinnon will accompany the choir for a rendition of "Prelude and Passacaglia."

Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for kids and $25 for families. Tickets can be bought at the door or Hearthside Books.

The Bells of the Sound traditionally perform a set of four concerts near Christmas and in April or May around Puget Sound. They choir has performed at the opening of Benaroya Hall, and with the Seattle Men's Chorus and the Cascade Symphony.

The Bells were the headliner at an international handbell festival in Florida and this June, they traveled to the Area 10 Handbell Festival at Northwest Nazarene College in Nampa, Idaho. The festival attracted more than 350 handbell players from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho. In 2008, the Bells will headline the event.

All of the choir's members must submit to a "rigorous ringing audition."

Hand ringing en masse

Bells Of The Sound concert

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Where: Northern Light United Church.

Admission: $10 adults, $5 kids, $25 families.

McPhetres began ringing handbells as a 10-year-old. Now living in Bremerton, she's been with the choir for five years and is the only member from Alaska.

"We allow a little bit of time to make sure personalities work within the group," McPhetres said. "It's a fun group to be a part of and it's quite an accomplishment to be part of it. It's not your ordinary handbell choir."

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