This weekend I attended my third Capital Area Handbell Festival with the Chelsea Chimes handbell choir from Saint Thomas More (see previous post for 2006 festival). Since the choir resumed practice after a summer break, we have been preparing five pieces that were chosen for this festival, where all 40 choirs who attended play all together. I really liked this year’s pieces – a few nice Christmas songs, and a couple upbeat things with crazy rhythms and techniques. The day also featured a short concert by the Raleigh Ringers, whom I have seen in concert several times now and always impress with their amazing skills. The main thing they do well is just a smoothness, especially fast runs up and down octaves, which of course require 10-14 people to all be very much together. The day always ends with a concert, where guests are invited to come hear the final product of the day’s work. Andy and Karen, a friend of ours fromUCSD who stayed with us this week (she was in town to meet with her doctoral committee in the Program in Literature at Duke University), came at the end to listen to the combined choir performance. For both of them it was their first time hearing this type of bell ringing, and they both seemed to enjoy it greatly! Since we were all the way in Raleigh, we couldn’t pass up the opporunity to eat a wonderful dinner at Raleigh’s tapas restaurant, Red Room. We shared paella, several amazing tapas and flatbread dishes, and some awesome desserts.
After taking Karen to the airport early Sunday morning, Mass was especially a musical treat in music director Barbara Reynolds’ hands, including my favorite Mass of Light Gloria, as well as a solo by two amazing sopranos in the 9:15 choir.
After that, Andy and I headed off to the UNC‘s Ackland Art Museum‘s
Music in the Galleries to hear Minomenal perform bluegrass from around 1958 in conjunction with the exhibit
Circa 1958 which included our friend’s son playing the harmonica. As you may or may not know, Andy has been trying to learn to play the harmonica and, although he has now more or less mastered the scales, I am really hoping he’ll practice at some other time and place than when we turn off the lights to go to sleep as the
wawawa of the harmonica begins to fill our bedroom. Andy got a little depressed when he learned that Jon has been playing the harmonica for about 12 years, but he had a good time observing some of the cool tricks that they used to change the sounds, including using what seemed to be an (empty) toilet paper roll!!
We finished the musical weekend with a late afternoon concert at Saint Thomas More: Roots in the Past/Wings to the Future: Celebrate 10 Years of Music Ministry. As a remembrance and rededication of the organ, piano, and handbells, several of the same pieces of music were played by the same people as at the original dedication when the current Saint Thomas More church was built. The bell choir played one of our big fancy pieces from the festival on Saturday, as well as a softer, meditative hymn. It is always a treat to hear all the choirs sing together.
This weekend of amazing music came at a very opportune moment. According to the growth expectations of fetal development, about a week ago we arrived at the stage where our baby should be able to hear! Through the next few months, the baby will learn to recognize our voices, as well as become accustomed to noises I am around frequently. It would be nice if the baby is already able to sleep through rooster crowing, but I am not getting my hopes up on that one 🙂 In any case, this weekend the baby was certainly able to take in some amazing sounds in all of these concerts…handbells, harmonicas, and choirs…sounds like a good start to me.