Leah and Donnie had been friends for years but it took them until second semester of their senior year in high school to discover they both played handbells at their respective churches.  Upon this revelation, they decided they wanted to play a duet together and they approached Leah’s mom, Cheryl (Leah’s handbell director) for assistance.  Given their busy end of senior year schedules, it became clear that it would be difficult to pull a song together before the end of school, but after factoring in graduation, vacation and camp schedules, they came up with two dates to perform in July; once at Donnie’s church in Deep River, the following Sunday at Leah’s church in Essex.  The duo started rehearsing at the end of May and meet weekly to fine tune their piece.  Since it had a piano accompanist part, they needed to get both church organists on board as well.

The downfall of choosing to perform in July meant that they had to play at a the earlier summer church service time (8:30 for Deep River, 9:00 for Essex), including getting there early to practice with the pianist.  No worries.  All went well and after the Deep River performance, they were asked to take the show on the road and perform at nearby Camp Bethel in East Haddam.  Calendars were once again consulted and a Monday night performance was scheduled for early August.  Cheryl sent the piano part to the camp musician and all agreed to come early to practice together.  Three performances (and three accompanists) later, Leah and Donnie packed up the bells for the last time as they each headed off to college in late August.  There’s talk of a reunion tour over winter break 🙂

Each month, we try to spotlight a group or small ensemble that is doing something interesting in the handbell world.  Stories range from small to grand, but the hope is that we bring smiles to the faces of those we spotlight, and remind everyone that bells are everywhere!

If you have an idea for a spotlight article, please email Pete Larson at [email protected].