SALT LAKE CITY — The Westminster Concert Bell Choir of Rider University in Princeton, New Jersey, will perform Saturday, 28 May 2005, at 7:30 p.m. in the Assembly Hall on historic Temple Square.
The program will include original works for handbells as well as arrangements of hymns, folk songs and transcriptions of classical favorites. Included in the repertoire will be Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring by J.S. Bach, March of the Dwarfs by Edward Grieg, Greensleeves arranged by Cathy Moklebust and music by Kevin McChesney, Arnold B. Sherman and others.
The bell choir is on a 15-city tour that started in Seattle and concludes in Hershey, Pennsylvania, traveling 7,800 miles (mostly by bus).
The Westminster Concert Bell Choir is of particular interest to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir because it is launching the Bells at Temple Square, an ensemble of 15 to 25 volunteer bell ringers.
Hailed for its virtuosity, the Westminster Concert Bell Choir uses the largest range of handbells in the world. It has appeared on public television’s “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” and several holiday broadcasts of the “Today Show.” Its holiday performances have been heard annually on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today” and are included on NPR’s Christmas Around the Country II recording.
The choir made its Carnegie Hall debut in December 2000. In December 2002, the ensemble joined Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Charlotte Church and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for a critically acclaimed 15-city tour entitled “A Royal Christmas.” The choir has made five recordings: Westminster Concert Bell Choir, Christmas Bells, Westminster Rings!, Praise and Adoration, and Christmas at Westminster: The Westminster Concert Bell Choir.
Kathleen Ebling-Thorne, director of the Westminster Concert Bell Choir, is a graduate of
Westminster Choir College of Rider University. She is in her 14th year as director. She is a member of the sacred music department at Westminster, where she teaches classes in handbell training and conducts a second handbell choir. She is also director of sales and marketing at Malmark, Inc. Bellcraftsmen in Plumsteadville, Pennsylvania.
Well known as a handbell clinician, Ebling-Thorne has conducted instructional sessions for the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers on the national level. In May 2003, she received the Alumni Merit Award from Westminster Choir College of Rider University for her dedication to the art of handbell ringing and her accomplishments in the classroom as well as the concert hall.
“Our audiences tell us the choir doesn’t sound like bells ringing, but more musical instead,” she says. She enjoys working with the student choir members, all in their early 20s, observing that “they have the exuberance of youth.”