This article written by Paula Barnes, Oklahoma RepresentativePaula Barnes

Area 9 made history on Saturday, April 18, 2015! Spring Rings were held simultaneously in central Texas, west Texas, and Oklahoma. Central Texas Spring Ring has been an annual event for some years, so the idea to try it in other locations on the same day using the same music was a step in faith. With more than 50 registrants in each location, it seems evident that ringers ARE interested in coming together to ring! Attendants at all three were excited about continuing this in coming years.

The Area 9 Board supplied the clinicians. Ruth Seiwell, Adam Sammuels, and Venita MacGorman provided excellent direction for the groups as they shared their expertise and prepared for the massed concerts. In Oklahoma, Venita presented handbell-isms throughout the day and asked for more to add to her collection. This was a great way to relax the ringers and also emphasized a point now and then also.

The music, a nice combination of sacred and secular, provided a variety of bell techniques and rhythms to keep everyone challenged. A moving arrangement of Crown Him with Many Crowns by Kirtsy Michell kept the choirs working on having the correct bell in the correct hand. Mallets, mallets, and all mallets took center stage on For the Beauty of the Earth arranged by Valerie W. Stephenson. In Kevin McChesney’s arrangement of Let It Go from Disney’s FROZEN, the focus was on making it sing.

That is what it is all about, right? Handbell musicians enjoying the process of working on the parts that make bells sound so terrific with the final performance in mind. Attendance at the concerts was good to great with overflow seating at Central Texas! Most certainly, as these events become more known, the attendance will grow.

At each of the locations excitement was generated about Area 9’s Summit 2016 CRUISE! Area 9 board members wore t- shirts and the rooms were a-buzz with questions and comments about ringing handbells on a cruise, especially from land locked Oklahoma! Keep watching for more details and registration coming soon.

A Saturday full of music in which history was made, an enthusiastic response to all three Spring Ring events, and Summit 2016 Cruise announced equals a triple play! Wink, Wink. To paraphrase one of the handbell-isms from Venita that might apply to these events… may we all “ring and create music far greater than any mistake that is made”. AMEN!

To see photos from all of the Spring Rings, please visit our Facebook page or view photographer Patricia Raglin’s photos from Central Texas Spring Ring.