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

PIB to host new by-election after successful appeal of 2017 results

On Dec. 13, the membership voted to host a new by-election

UPDATE: Busy lineup of live performances this winter at Penticton’s Cannery Brewing

Musicians like Ari Neufeld will be perfoming at the brewery throughout December and January

Two public washrooms now closed in Penticton due to vandalism

The city is urging residents to report vandalism – found or ongoing – of public property

Penticton city council forced to make tough calls with grant applications

The city received 43 applications totalling $993,000 but could only approve about 55 per cent

South Okanagan recovery centre hosting Christmas light up and open house

Discovery House is hosting its annual Shed the Light on Addiction campaign and open house Satuday

VIDEO: Feds give update on flying clearance for Santa’s sled

Transport Minister Marc Garneau has this message for the country’s children

Wagon wheels can now be any size: B.C. community scraps 52 obsolete bylaws

They include an old bylaw regulating public morals

Indigenous mother wins $20,000 racial discrimination case against Vancouver police

Vancouver Police Board ordered to pay $20,000 and create Indigenous-sensitivity training

Vernon airport prepares for plane crashes

Several agencies practised emergency response in tabletop exercise

‘Miscommunication’ behind Frosty takedown in Vernon

Bylaw working with owners to get permits in place for holiday decoration, city says

Sentencing for B.C. father who murdered two young daughters starts Monday

The bodies of Aubrey, 4, and Chloe, 6, were found in Oak Bay father’s apartment Dec. 25, 2017

LETTER: Universal pharmacare program needed

Millions of Canadians are waiting for this historic step

LETTER: Support needed to eradicate polio

As long as it exists the disease can suddenly erupt and spread anywhere

B.C. vet talks tips for winter travel with pets

Going to see the vet the day before a trip is never a good idea

Most Read