The Crozet holiday season launched on heavenly notes Dec. 10 when the Crozet Handbell Choir performed at Tabor Presbyterian Church under the direction of Chris Celella. Pickford-Chiles Hall was packed with 75 eager listeners.
The bells made a sweet sound with complex sonorousness that approaches that of an organ, achieving a chorus of angels quality.
Each of the 13 members of the three-year-old choir is responsible for four bells and holds one in each black-gloved hand at all times. Several bells can ring at once. Bell players nodded, bobbed and danced to keep time as they intently followed the music. Players touch the bells to their shoulders to silence them.
The first song was Somewhere Over the Rainbow—“for 10,000 reasons,” said Celella—but after that came traditional carols like Deck the Halls and Little Town of Bethlehem. After Jingle Bells, jaunty and with perfect synchronization, came Come All Ye Faithful and then, everyone seeming to get in the mood, the crowd hummed along to Good King Wenceslas. A spectacular performance of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen drew appreciative whistles.
“The choir has put in ungodly amounts of work,” said Celella. “They work very long and hard. They pick up and put down a lot of bells.”
The choir performed Shenandoah, a “show piece,” Celella said, “to prove how much they’ve grown.” The sound was aching, plaintive and homesick. Then came a Beatles medley and the night wrapped up with a forceful and joyful ringing of We Wish You a Merry Christmas.
Don’t miss this concert next year.