Nicole Thorp and Devin Riley, members of the Oliver Handbell RIngers, were selected to join the Okanagan Handbell Chorus in concert with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra. (Submitted photo)

Ringing in the season

Two members of Oliver handbell group selected to join the Okanagan Handbell Chorus

Two members of the Oliver Handbell Ringers are expanding their range, so to speak.

Nicole Thorp and Devin Riley have both been selected to join the Okanagan Handbell Chorus, an elite group of ringers cherry-picked for their talents, to accompany the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra.

Thorp’s ringing career began in 2007, as a charter member of Oliver Ringers, but her musical career began when she started piano lessons at eight years old and carried on to earn two separate music degrees in college.

She said it’s a very different experience playing with a handbell choir compared to an instrument like a piano.

“In an ensemble situation you may be responsible for 2 or 10 tones in the entire piece,” said Thorp. “You rely on body cues from other players and develop a real awareness of the entire group.”

Riley joined the Oliver Handbell ringers a little later, in 2010, a pivotal time in his life. Not only was this his graduation year from high school, it was also and when his piano lessons, which he stared in kindergarten, reached a high, completing his Grade 8 certificate in the Royal Conservatory of Music program.

“I find that handbells are deceptively complex. I might only have four bells in a piece, but once you add five or six different ringing techniques or hand chimes, it gets complicated in a hurry,” said Riley. “I don’t think I’ve ever been bored playing bells. Then there is the added challenge of making it appear easily done to the audience.”

The valley-wide Okanagan Handbell Chorus was organized in 2011 by ringer and director Nikki Atwell of Westbank and directed by Susan Carscadden-Mifsud, an Ontario ringer and director.

The valley-wide Okanagan Handbell Chorus came about in 2011 when Rosemary Thompson, music director of the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, approached Westbank ringer and director Nikki Atwell to draw together musicians to produce high-quality handbell pieces to be incorporated with the symphony’s Christmas production.

Unlike regular choirs, Okanagan Handbell Chorus ringers study and rehearse their music individually. There are no weekly practices to slowly brush up on the material, and the group only gets together to ring as an ensemble two days prior to the performance. The week of performance can be gruelling both mentally and physically.

The Okanagan Handbell Chorus is performing with the Okanagan Symphony as part of their Christmas special concert, Ringing in the Season, with a matinee performance in Penticton at 2 p.m. on Dec. 23, and evening performances in Vernon on Dec. 21 and Kelowna on Dec. 22.

The Oliver Handbell Ringers are preparing for their own Christmas program One Winter’s Night, with performances in Oliver’s Christ the King Catholic Church on Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 17 at 3 p.m.

Just Posted

Okanagan Regional Library names new CEO

Don Nettleton, who has been with ORL for 24 years, takes over from Stephanie Hall

Flooding danger reduced in Faulder

Evacuation alert rescinded for 60 properties in the community of Faulder

Twin Lakes armouring against flooding

Canadian Armed Forces personnel assist with further flood mitigation

COLUMN: A special moment worth celebrating

Reflecting on a declaration of love, a commitment to faithfulness and a promise to journey together

They came for a good time on Shuswap Lake

Trooper plays for hundreds on Shuswap Lake this past May Long weekend

Penticton homeless campers devastated by park cleanup

Two women, in their 50s and 60s, said they felt like giving up after their only home was cleared out

Study recommends jurors receive more financial and psychological support

Federal justice committee calls for 11 policy changes to mitigate juror stress

Evac alerts rescinded for over 1,100 Similkameen properties

That includes 663 properties in Electoral Area “B” and Electoral Area “G” and 589 in Keremeos

Research needed on impact of microplastics on B.C. shellfish industry: study

SFU’s department of biological sciences recommends deeper look into shellfish ingesting microbeads

B.C. dad pens letter urging overhaul of youth health laws after son’s fatal overdose

The Infants Act currently states children under 19 years old may consent to medical treatment on own

Singh sides with B.C. in hornet’s nest of pipeline politics for the NDP

Singh had called for a more thorough environmental review process on the proposal

Size, cost set for proposed Vernon cultural facility

Size of new home for museum and art gallery is about 58,000 square feet; cost is $40 million

SilverStar reaches new heights with gondola

Vernon ski resort installing new feature, with opening date set for July 7

Most Read