A Decade of Ringing in the South Okanagan
Ten years ago a group of musicians in Oliver decided the community was lacking a handbell choir. With nothing more than a set of borrowed bells and participants keen on seeing it fly, the Oliver Handbell Ringers (OHR) team was created. The group set out raising funds. Before long, with an enthusiastic town behind them, the group began purchasing their own equipment.
Having started from the bare roots, the ensemble has been guided by multiple directors learning handbell technique, showmanship and musical theories. Pouring in the practice time together and singularly, at home, and poring over the music has resulted in the choir we see today.
The group now gives its members a workout on three octaves of handbells, an octave of cymbells, three octaves of hand chimes and various other fun add-ons.
Director Helen Wollf has said, “Sometimes we ask the ringers to perform tasks that defy both logic and physics. This group seems to happily rise to the challenge and we always find a way to fit it all in, working together,” and adds with a chuckle, “Of course, being able to sprout an extra arm or two could be helpful in some cases!”
Excitement is rushing through the group this Christmas season. Two of its members are off to ring with the Okanagan Handbell Chorus, an ad hoc bell choir developed to accompany the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra. As well, Director Wollf has been asked to be a clinician at the BC Guild of English Handbell Ringers’ “Spring Ring” conference.
In order to properly celebrate the tenth anniversary OHR has a full concert for the public’s enjoyment planned. “One Winter’s Night” will be presented on Friday, December 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, December 17 at 3:00 p.m. Both performances will take place at Christ the King Catholic Church (6044 Spartan Street Oliver, BC).