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

LETTER: Empathy needed in society

Arts and cultural activities teach the value of understanding others

EDITORIAL: Providing power

More charging stations will be needed as demand for electric vehicles grows

BC SPCA investigates Okanagan woman with prior animal abuse convictions

BC SPCA is investigating a property near Vernon

‘His kids were No. 1’: Wife remembers man shot dead in Kamloops

Wife of Kamloops shooting victim describes him as loving, hardworking family man

LETTER: 5G wireless communication comes with risks

No safety research has been done about new global communications service

Residents of Oliver OK with 9 per cent tax increase

The increase is a result of the cost of policing being turned over to the town

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

Thieves steal bottles, mattress from recycle depot

Chase RCMP still investigating theft of tires, generator from commercial garage

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Regional district seeks $13 million to get rolling on Rail Trail

Federal grant would pay for a paved path from Sicamous to Armstrong

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Cold War Cabaret offers song, slam poetry and sock puppets

Devon More returns to Shuswap with Berlin Waltz, March 16

Shuswap athletes help Team BC to podium at Canada Winter Games

Speed-skater wins bronze, ringette player contributes to playoff victory

Most Read