Ouachita Baptist University’s Handbell Ringers will present Ringers in the Round, the newly dubbed name for their fall concert, in the McClellan Hall Rotunda on Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m.
Dr. Rob Hewell, associate professor and chair of the department of church music, has conducted Ouachita’s handbell ringer performances since 2003. “I’m very excited for this fall’s performance,” Hewell said. “Typically, we have the performances in McBeth Recital Hall. This semester, we’re going to host it in the Rotunda. The acoustics will provide a great sound environment. We’re going to ring on the balcony as well as the bottom floor which will take advantage of two different dimensions of sound.”
The Handbell Ringers rehearse in the McClellan Rotunda with Dr. Rob Hewell for their upcoming concert, “Ringers in the Round.” photo by Jessica Bowling
Along with location, the ringer’s repertoire is also unique for this fall’s concert. Each piece in the performance has been a collaborative composing effort by Hewell and the ringers. “This is the first time we’re writing our own music for a Ringers concert,” Hewell explained. “We’re pulling out six or seven passages from the book of John and then creating our music based on those stories.”
Hewell added that the group is seeking to portray the text in an effort to connect the gospel of John to the listener through music. “John is so full of imagery and is just vivid. It tells about the things that Jesus did and said which are inherent to who He is. So we want to portray our encounter to the text through our handbell music.”
Under Hewell’s direction, this year’s ensemble includes senior church music majors Landon White of Benton, Ark., and Tyler Burleson of Camden, Ark., and sophomore choral music education major Katie Kremer of Ballwin, Mo.
“This semester we only have three ringers,” Hewell said, “and we’re taking advantage of that in terms of writing the music. This particular project wouldn’t be feasible a larger group.”
The ensemble rehearses twice a week to prepare for its performance. All of the preparation is a “collaborative effort,” according to Hewell. “We talk through the stories, what we can do with the bells, what kinds of sounds will portray various elements of the story, and also consider various techniques, such as mallets, which can be used.
“These aren’t like the little bells that sit on your grandma’s table,” Hewell added. “These are musical instruments which take several people to play them. There are a lot of possibilities with the bells.
“At the show we’ll definitely have a couple of surprises,” he concluded. “It should be enjoyable and worshipful as well.”
By Hannah Clayton