Handbells to ring Saturday

By Sarah Meyer: PNT Staff Writer

A chorus of handbells will ring Saturday at First United Methodist Church.

Organizers say the 16th annual Eastern New Mexico Fall Handbell Festival will feature a variety of music performed with handbells and other instruments.

The public concert will begin at 3 p.m. It features six New Mexico and west Texas handbell choirs.

An offering will be taken during the concert to help with expenses of the production.

“I think everybody will enjoy the concert,” said Jason Paulk, assistant professor of music at Eastern New Mexico University, who also directs the Kingswood United Methodist Church handbell choir in Clovis. “You don’t often see 100 people ringing together.”

Bill Wood, who directs the handbell choir at First United Methodist Church of Portales said the ringing of 60 or more handbells “expands the sound” of the bells. Most choirs include about a dozen bell players.

Paulk said the music is “intriguing and exciting.”

The entertainment will include holiday and sacred music, with the addition of hand chimes, which Wood said offer a mellower sound, and the use of different techniques to play the bells.

The program includes massed ringing pieces by the participating choirs, pieces performed by individual choirs and a handbell soloist.

Chris Beaty, associate professor of music at ENMU, will perform on saxophone with the massed choir on one number and will play a solo accompanied by pianist Kayla Paulk, a faculty member at ENMU.

Paulk and Wood said the choirs have been rehearsing since September.

One of the nice things about handbells is that “you don’t have to have a lot of musical background” to be successful, said Paulk.

“It provides the opportunity for people to make music together,” said Wood. “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”

First United Methodist Church of Clovis also will have a handbell choir in the concert.

Mary Kay Parrish, well-known in the handbell field, will serve as guest director of the massed ringing festival choir.