Lots of people have shared many pictures on facebook and other social media sites, but here is a selection of some of our favorites.
Festival Conference 2019: Day 1 – Thursday
Over 500 ringers from the U.S., the U.K., Iceland, and France have arrived on campus at the University of Hartford for Festival Conference 2019, hosted by Area 1. Thursday evening brought the opening bell, the first Massed rehearsal, and the opening concert by Forté.
Conductor Kevin McChesney challenged ringers to watch the conductor, to not fret about getting lost (what with 500+ ringers for back-up), and to use Festival Conference as an opportunity to practice memorizing. Within 10 minutes, he told us to close our music and ring the section we’d just rehearsed from memory—and the Massed Choir delivered! This first rehearsal focused on McChesney’s piece, “Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace,” which opens and closes with fifteen chords, each representing one of the lives lost at Columbine.
After dinner, attendees gathered to hear the opening concert by the Forté handbell quartet, whose artistry, energy, sincerity, and innovation held us all rapt. “To have the audience wait with you at the end, especially an audience of handbell ringers, means the world to us.” A local fireworks display added a surprise element to the concert, particularly during “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” featuring bowed handchimes—a haunting sound made unforgettable by percussion accompaniment from the very sky. Forté’s joy and generosity are contagious, and one ringer commented, “I’ve never spent an entire concert with my jaw on the floor!”
After the concert, Forté shared insights and information into their process and technique with attendees, who ended the first evening of Festival Conference inspired for the weekend ahead.