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Kanawha Valley Ringers celebrate 10 years

WANT TO GO? Kanawha Valley Ringers 10th anniversary concertWHEN: 3 p.m. SundayWHERE: St. Timothy's Lutheran Church, 900 Lawndale LaneCOST: FreeINFO: 304-610-5852 CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If an angel gets its wings every time a bell rings, then there are going to be a lot of newly-minted cherubs in flight come Sunday.That's when the Kanawha Valley Ringers perform their 10th anniversary spring concert at St. Timothy's Lutheran Church.Founding director Dale Miller started the group in August 2003. "I had a vision to create a community handbell group," he said. "I put word out to folks I knew who were involved with handbells. We got enough to get started."When the group began, it practiced at the former Humphreys United Methodist Church in Dunbar, using bells borrowed from there. Since then, it has purchased those bells and moved its home base to St. Timothy's Lutheran, off Corridor G.Currently, there are 13 full-time members and four who serve as substitutes when needed. The first group had 10 members, and Miller said most years since have had 10 to 15.Over the years, there have been either 44 or 45 members total, he said.
"Some have as many as 25 years experience, and some have just four or five years," Miller said. "One had never rung a bell until she joined. She had good musical skills, and we taught her handbell skills."Ringers are accepted through auditions, usually held in late August. The group is the only auditioned handbell choir in the area and only one of two in the state. (The other is in Vienna.)The number of members determines the number of handbells used. The group has five octaves of handbells and three octaves of handchimes.
Each year, the Ringers have three concerts: a holiday one in the winter, a performance at GoodNight on New Year's Eve and a spring show, which has evolved into a themed-concert over the years.This year's theme is the group's 10th anniversary."We've selected music from all 10 years," Miller said. "We have ringers coming back who have left the group; they'll be playing the last two numbers. We have enough people to make two handbell choirs."Selections in the 12-piece, 60- to 90-minute program include "Amazing Grace," Pirates of the Caribbean" (from the group's Disney-themed concert in 2011), "Rock Around the Clock" and a medley from "Les Miserables." There will also be some handbell classics, including Arnold Sherman's "Fantasy #3 in G Minor" and Kevin McChesney's "Capriccio." A reception follows."So many people associate handbells with churches," Miller said. "Some of our people [play in church choirs], but we like to have more variety in our repertoire. We like to have some church music that people recognize, but we like to have other pieces, too."The group is self-sustaining financially, with members paying annual dues. It buys its music and maintains its equipment.
Miller said he is very proud of what his group has accomplished in the past 10 years."We've grown from doing some rather easy music to being able to move up to a higher level of handbell music and doing a little more challenging pieces than what most church programs do."Reach Amy Robinson at or 304-348-4881.
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