February 15, 2010
Augustana Handbell Choir tours Midwest
Ascension Ringers, a fifteen member handbell choir, will share their musical talents with Lutheran churches across Minnesota and Iowa in the Ascension Ringers' second annual handbell tour from March 5-7.
The Ascension Ringers is a non-audition musical ensemble directed by Larry Peterson, the campus ministries' director of music. The choir performs periodically throughout the year at Augustana's church services and special events on campus like Lessons and Carols and Christmas convocation. The goal of the spring tour is to share their music and represent Augustana's Lutheran heritage outside of the Quad Cities.
The highlight of the Ascension Ringers' tour will be their participation in Bellfest!, an annual handbell choir festival held at North Heights Lutheran Church in Arden Hills, MN. This year's festival is expected to draw over 30 choirs from across Minnesota and the other midwestern states, and will be led by Beth Watson Judd, a nationally recognized music director and handbell choir conductor.
"The festival is a great learning experience," said Rachel Kasa, a member of the Ascension Ringers who attended the festival last year. "It is sometimes hard enough getting our Augustana group to play exactly in time with one another. When you throw in 30 other groups, it becomes imperative that everyone watches and everyone counts. If even one person is off, the clarity is gone."
After a full day of instruction, the Ascension Ringers will be one of six handbell choirs to perform solo in a mass concert at the festival's culmination. The concert will take place on Saturday, March 6 at 3 p.m. and is free and open to the public. In addition to their solo pieces, Augustana's handbell choir will join over 300 other ringers in performing a series of favorite Lutheran hymns they prepared for the festival, including "Be Thou My Vision" and "I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry."
Peterson hopes the concert will not only showcase his students' skills, but also help them learn from the other choirs. "It is good for our ringers to experience a massed ringing event. There are a couple of semi-professional choirs that attend this festival, and hearing them play helps elevate our expectation levels and playing proficiency."
Including their performance at Bellfest!, the Ascension Ringers' tour consists of the following venues:
Friday, March 5: Concert at 7 p.m. at Abiding Savior Lutheran Church in Mounds View, MN
Saturday, March 6: Bellfest! Concert at 3 p.m. at North Heights Lutheran Church in Arden Hills, MN
Sunday, March 7: Morning worship at 8 a.m at House of Hope Lutheran Church in New Hope, MN
Sunday, March 7: Concert at 7 p.m. at Holy Redeemer Lutheran Church in Cedar Rapids, IA
Director, Public Relations and Arts Promotion