The Acadia Handbell Choir will perform at the Southwest Harbor Public Library on Dec. 11. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Handbell choir to celebrate the season



SOUTHWEST HARBOR — A concert and sing-along featuring the Acadia Handbell Choir will take place at the Southwest Harbor Public Library on Monday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m. The library home-school group, The Bookworms, will perform a special piece on the chimes.

The Acadia Handbell Choir was formed in the 1970s. They began with two octaves of English handbells. Later, two more octaves of bells and three octaves of hand chimes were added. English handbells come in various sizes, the smaller ones having the higher pitch tones and the larger bells having the lower bass tones. The bells are made of copper and tin, cast and pitched in a factory so that heat and cold will not affect the tone. The clappers only move up and down and have special springs to prevent the clapper from resting on the bell. Each bell is marked with the musical note on its handle.

Handbell choirs are choreographed so that the entire group acts as a single instrument. The bells are quite expensive, so few ringers own their own bells, making group practices very important. This is the only ringing rehearsal time the performers get. Also, each person needs to be at the performance. If someone is missing, a whole tonal section is missing.

Historically, bells have rung out messages. They have rung in the community about citizenship and celebration, as well as in the military. Here is an example of “bell language.”

When we lament a parted soul, we toll.

When joy and mirth are on the wing, we sing.

To call the fold to church in time, we chime.

After the performance, anyone interested is invited to try the bells for themselves. Call the library at 244-7065.