Religions and Spirituality

Chime In: St. John's Church Hosts Inaugural 'Handbell Festival' Apr. 23

'The Lutherringers' from St. John's Lutheran Church. Credits: Donna Garzinsky
The public is welcome to attend the free festival concert at 4 PM. Credits: Jama Bowman

SUMMIT, NJ - More than 450 handbells and chimes, 60 musicians in five choirs, five conductors, and a trombonist, clarinetist, flutist, percussionist and organist will come together beginning the morning of April 23 at St. John’s Lutheran Church's first-ever "Handbell Festival."

The free event features a concert beginning at 4 p.m.

Music on tap for the combined choirs includes a setting of the African American slave song, “Do, Lord,” arranged by Valerie Stephenson, “The Gift of Grace,” a setting of “Amazing Grace” with flute and clarinet accompaniment composed by Arnold Sherman, and “Glorious Celebration,” a freely composed whirl of sound and energy composed by Cynthia Dobrinski. They will also play a memorized processional and an offering hymn. Each group will also play an individual solo.

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Participating choirs include the King of King Ringers from King of Kings Lutheran Church in Mountain Lakes, directed by Linda Clark; the Walsh Memorial Bell Choir and the Walsh Grazio Bell Choir from the Presbyterian Church in Morris Plains, led by Carl Loutzenheiser; the Vesper Bells from Central Presbyterian Church in Summit, directed by Charity Wicks; and the Lutherringers from St. John’s Lutheran Church in Summit, directed by Donna Garzinsky.

Handbell ringing is more than just straight ringing. Bell techniques listeners can expect to see and hear include singing bells, marts, shakes, echo rings, malleted bells, mart-lifts, ring-touches, and thumb damps. Ringing is quite physical, too, and requires good concentration, so that all can bring their best efforts to the music.

The Church encourages carpooling to the event, and a free-will offering will be received to help cover the costs of the festival. For more information, call 908 273-3846, ext. 2512.

St. John’s Lutheran Church is located at 587 Springfield Avenue.

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