Concert fun and rumors...
April 16, 2012
Saturday was the first concert for this new season at Fridley United Methodist Church, and the group kicked it off without a clink or a bang. In other words, it was a success. The church invited Twin Cities Bronze to perform as the entertainment prior to a salad luncheon. A few Twin Cities Bronze members stayed for the luncheon and received several compliments from concert attendees who commented that they had such a fun time listening to the pieces, and it was evident all the ringers were having fun.
It’s not a secret, we were having a blast. The concert featured a combination of new pieces, which were actually really old – or at least in handbell terms. Members of the group joked about how Twin Cities Bronze is celebrating the 80s with the number of pieces we performed that were printed prior to 1990, but we’re only refreshing the quality pieces that deserve to be resurrected.
During the pizza “get to know you” dinner following Sunday’s rehearsal , the discussion continued on how we could keep the 80s theme going with additional pieces that our new Artistic Director, Amy, might be able to arrange for some fun playing and listener entertainment. And from there, the discussion transferred into our new performance costuming. Of course, with nine different opinions from both genders, the end result was going to be brown velour tank tops. Just kidding of course, but we think we narrowed down our dislikes some. Stay tuned to find out how these rumors will turn out during the rest of the season.
Announcing... Twin Cities Bronze 2012 Ringers
OK, the grueling auditions are over. Every ringer’s nails have been bitten down the quick while eagerly anticipating the call. It’s been a slower start this season due to all the changes happening with Twin Cities Bronze, but we’re proud to finally announce the 2012 members who will be performing with the group. In alphabetical order, drumroll please:
- Mark Anderson
- Alyssa Boock
- Deb Garvey
- Kate Graber
- Carla Helgeson
- Christopher Johnson
- Jeni Jonett
- Amy Maakestad
- Patti Munter
- Deb Olsen
- Bonnie Tranby
And of course, repeating old news, Amy Maakestad is the new artistic and music director, leading this group of enthusiastic and energized ringers off on a new chapter for Twin Cities Bronze.
Rehearsals start right away – there’s a lot of catching up to do with the delay of the season – so members of the group will be getting to know each other extremely well in rapid fashion. We already have one private engagement booked in April, and are working on scheduling other concerts throughout the rest of the year. Stay tuned, and we’ll be sure to give more stories about new and returning ringers soon.
Auditions for 2012 SeasonThis is going to be an exciting year for us as we transition to a new Artistic and Music Director and discern our future as a premier handbell ensemble. Every position in the ensemble is open.
Auditions will be held:
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Peace United Methodist Church
5050 Hodgson Road
As the new Artistic and Music Director, I plan to build on the solid foundation already in place and challenge the ensemble to develop a high level of musicality. We will be performing the most advanced and best handbell repertoire available, exploring many different musical styles and collaborating with other musicians.
Weekly Sunday rehearsals are required to facilitate the growth of the ensemble and will be combined with time outside of rehearsal for individual score study. Rehearsals will be limited to three hours. Musical excellence is at the forefront of our mission and ringers will be held accountable for thorough rehearsal preparation.
The performance schedule of Twin Cities Bronze for 2012 will be lighter than in years past. Confirmed performance dates for 2012 are:
- Saturday, April 14 Lunch concert at Fridley UMC
- Sunday, November 25 Performance at the Landscape Arboretum
- Friday and Sunday, December 21 & 23 Performances with Doc Severinsen and the Minnesota Orchestra
For more information, please email me, or call me at 651.225.9598. I look forward to hearing from you. If you decide to audition, I will send you an audition packet which will include all the materials you will need.
I hope to see you on Sunday, March 11th.
After Monica McGowan announced her retirement from Twin Cities Bronze, a committee was formed to find a replacement. Postings were sent to a wide audience, applications were received, and the job of narrowing the field had begun. The committee has spent many, many hours deciding who would be the best candidate to lead the Ensemble. A difficult task, but a decision was made and presented to the Board of Directors.
Passing that hurdle, a rehearsal with alumni ringers was scheduled as a practical review. A final vote was taken and the Board of Directors is now excitedly pleased to announce that
Amy Maakestad of Roseville, MN has been selected as Artistic and Music director for Twin Cities Bronze.
Amy received her Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance from the University of Wisconsin, Superior. She later received her Masters in Sacred Music – Organ and Choral Conducting from Luther Seminary, St. Paul in cooperation with St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota.
Amy brings over 30 years of handbell experience to Twin Cities Bronze. She began ringing as most young people do – in a church handbell choir directed by her mother. She has been a ringing member in both of the auditioned handbell ensembles of the Twin Cities: Twin Cities Bronze and Bells of the Lakes.
Amy is currently the Director of Music Ministries at White Bear Lake United Methodist Church of White Bear Lake, Minnesota where she is organist, administers the choral program, directing one choir and directs the handbell program of one youth and one adult choir.
Amy says: “I never thought I would want to be a handbell director. Once I tried it, it became one of my favorite things!” Amy and her husband, Matthew, are parents to Harry and Annika. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, reading and gardening.
Monica S. McGowan, Artistic & Music Director Retires
After 12 years as Artistic Director, Monica S. McGowan has led Twin Cities Bronze in her final concert with the ensemble. The traditional Twelfth Night Concert was held on Saturday, January 7, 2012 at Peace United Methodist Church in Shoreview Minnesota with a reception and celebratory dinner following.
McGowan who has been a driving force in shaping the ensemble will continue her passion for handbells as a festival conductor, preeminent workshop teacher of handbell artistry and through her Ringing Restorations business. With husband Joe McGowan, she plans to spend leisure time at their ranch in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
The end of a great year
January 15, 2012
It's always kind of sad to end a year, especially the fantastic year Twin Cities Bronze just completed this past weekend. We held an Insights into Artistry workshop in Hutchinson on Saturday, Jan. 14, helping 34 participants learn different aspects of ringing bells.
These workshops are a lot of work, but it's so enjoyable to see connections happening, both in the art of handbells, and with other people in neighboring communities who share a similar interest. And at the end of the day – a full 10 hours crammed full of classroom and large group learning – when the entire group rang together (sight-reading of course) applying the techniques they had just learned, it was almost magical.
Of course, TCB ringers had a good time as well, hanging together officially for the final time. (There will be plenty of unofficial gatherings down the road since we're all such great friends.) We spent Friday night in Hutchinson, sharing stories, soaking in the hot tub, even playing the ukulele and singing songs that some people knew the words to. Maggie rated the hotel a four star – the continental breakfast Saturday morning had waffles, sausages and muffins. It was a good time for all.
This will be the final posting for the 2011 season. We'll bring you more news as we finalize our search for a new artistic and music director. But until then, have a wonderful January and February, and keep ringing!
The day of sevens
January 7, 2012
What happens in a handbell concert when one of the ringers becomes injured just prior to starting the second half? Now we know the answer.
Twin Cities Bronze kicked off its seventh annual Twelfth Night Concert on the 7th of January. It’s also the day that our retiring Artistic and Music Director, Monica McGowan, received seven stitches in her forehead, forcing her to miss ringing seven pieces in the concert. We’re not certain whether we should treat the number seven as a good or bad omen.
The first half of the concert started off strong, and had everyone in high spirits as we finished playing Sleigh Ride and exited for a brief intermission. Monica had tears threatening during our group circle as this was her final concert. But Bill broke the tension with, “rocketship, rocketship, rocketship.” This word has helped many members of the group halt threatening tears over the years when we play melodies that emotionally connect with us. Bill’s comedy broke everyone into fits of laughter, relieved us of tension, and had us ready to show our packed audience what we could do.
The “incident” happened while walking back into the concert hall during the second half. Monica tripped on a stair, hit her forehead on a chair, creating a sizeable gash. Former Twin Cities Bronze member Beth Rahberg was in the audience and came to Monica’s assistance, evaluated the situation, and got on the microphone to announce that she and Monica would be going to get her some stitches. Monica’s husband (known by many as Saint Joe) went with them, and the audience stood up and applauded their exit.
But we’re down a ringer... and have a second half to perform?! Several former members and a professional handbell ringer were in the audience and stepped up to the plate. A huge thank you to Michèle Sharik of San Marcos, Calif., as well as former members Paul Weller and Lauren Odle who stepped into Monica’s shoes. The repertoire consisted of challenging pieces like Tim Waugh’s Rytmus, Michael Joy’s Toccata Ritmica and Doug Benton’s arrangement of Edvard Grieg “Prelude” from Holberg’s Time – to name a few – so these weren’t easy shoes to fill.
On that Saturday, Twin Cities Bronze proved exactly why they are a true ensemble. Each and every member (and the substitutes as well) were able to step up to the table, grab their bells and play their hearts out as always, without a conductor. And in this case, without an artistic and music director as well. It was an impressive feat!
Over the holidays, Monica updated her cellphone technology so we happily surprised by text messages from her while she was under the sewing needle. She didn’t make it back to the concert until well after the reception, but Twin Cities Bronze had one more surprise in store. We had left out the bells needed to play a special piece to honor Saint Joe, who has done so much for the group. So when they came back, Monica stepped up to the tables, picked up her mallets, and played one more time with Twin Cities Bronze, in front a small, but appreciative audience. The arrangement was Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, (arr. Hart Morris) which Joe had requested at some point in time.
Joe summed up the entire performance with one word when we were finished. “Bravo!”
Time to get healthy for the holidays
December 26, 2011
Sneezing, coughing and hoarse voices have rung the bells of many Twin Cities Bronze members this holiday handbell season. Between the high energy of the Jingle Bell Doc concerts and an all day rehearsal the weekend before Christmas in preparation for the upcoming Twelfth Night concert, we were doing everything we could to get healthy again in time for the holidays.
It’s a bit of a bittersweet celebration this year with the final concert of the season approaching. The Twelfth Night Concert is a favorite for many ringers because it often brings back favorite pieces from earlier in the year, and combines them with the fun holiday music we’ve recently dazzled audiences with at our Arboretum concert and the two Doc Severinsen concerts. But this year’s concert is also Monica’s final concert as Artistic and Music Director, so we’ll be doing our best to make it as fun as possible as a celebration of her retirement. See below for the concert details or click here to buy tickets.
Stay tuned to the website, we’ll be posting photos of gift baskets that will be available to win through a drawing process following the Twelfth Night Concert. The themes of these baskets range from delicious foods to Minnesota favorites to fun technology. You don’t want to miss out on this opportunity!
Jingle Bell Doc
December 8, 2011
Friday night, Dec. 8, Twin Cities Bronze performed with Doc Severinsen at his Jingle Bell Doc concert with the Minnesota Orchestra and Minnesota Chorale. We played two solo pieces – Farandole which is a favorite of Doc’s that he requests each and every year, as well as Bell Carol Fantasy, which we’ve memorized and perform wearing white gloves (yes, we had to purchase gloves for one piece) in black light. Our percussion friends joined us on Farandole, and both pieces were huge hits with everyone on stage and the sold out audience. Saturday morning several members of the group were still hearing stories of how impressed audience members were – especially with the black light performance. Read on to see how much work and energy went into Friday’s performance.
Holiday spirits rung right
December 5, 2011
The holiday season has officially started, and Twin Cities Bronze kicked everything off with a bang (but no clinking) at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Nov. 27. We even made the news. Local TV station KSTP was doing a segment about the Arboretum’s holiday season of upcoming events, and they featured some video – but unfortunately you really couldn’t hear the music – of our concert. Check it out at: www.kstp.com/stories
Every year we have SRO (standing room only for those who don’t do crossword puzzles) at our Arboretum concert, and even though the snow didn’t cooperate to create the perfect ambiance, the mood was joyful, spirited and excited. Here are a couple of review comments:
- “You are magical! I have a stress fracture on my foot and came anyway because I need to hear something uplifting and healing that is live music. Thank you for the beauty and the wonder and the JOY!”
- “Beautiful! Such expertise I’ve never been a witness to. Fantastic.”
One other tidbit of “cool” news – the Arboretum played our Holidays in Bronze CD throughout the center that entire afternoon. We left the CD with them to continue playing it (and promoting us) through the rest of the holidays.
Next on deck are two concerts with Doc Severinsen at Orchestra Hall with our friends in the Minnesota Orchestra and Chorale. We’re waiting with baited breath on what our performance numbers will be – the decision is always last minute – and it will be a difficult decision for Doc to narrow our selection down to just two (hopefully three) numbers this year. Stay tuned ...
Twin Cities Bronze Seeks Artistic and Music Director
November 3, 2011
The Twin Cities Bronze Board of Directors has announced that Monica S. McGowan will be retiring as Artistic and Music Director for Twin Cities Bronze effective Feb. 1, 2012.
Twin Cities Bronze is a performing ensemble of advanced ringers from the metropolitan area that has been under the artistic direction of McGowan for 12 years. A search is underway for a new Artistic and Music Director, and interested candidates can direct questions to the search committee at (the posting is now closed). The job posting will be open through Dec. 31, 2011.
Under McGowan’s directorship, the ensemble has toured to France and all around the United States including Alaska and Hawaii. McGowan has encouraged 45 members of the ensemble over the years to experience and grow individual skills in a unique ringing environment. She raises the bar for each individual to grow their knowledge, musicianship and ringing accomplishments at every rehearsal and every performance.
McGowan will continue her Ringing Restorations business; serve as the Handbell Coordinator at the International Music Camp as well as lead and direct workshops and festivals held across the nation by the Handbell Musicians of America. She also plans to spend more time at “the ranch” in South Dakota with her husband, Joe.
October 28, 2011
There’s nothing spooky scheduled to happen at the Twin Cities Bronze rehearsal on Sunday, but maybe we’ll be in for a sneaky surprise. Rumor has it some tricky holiday pieces are emerging from their file cabinet coffins. We’ll know we need to run in terror if Artistic Director Monica has an evil look in her eye at the start of rehearsal. Many of the ringers are dusting the cobwebs out of their brains to familiarize themselves with the bell change scribbling they made in their music under the cover of score study darkness in year’s past.
Additional whisperings are that the 2s will reappear during the holiday concert season, bringing a deep, dramatic filler to several numbers. Dun dun duuun… All the ringers get a wicked gleam in their eyes when one of those babies enhance the first chord of the concert.
Breaking away from the Halloween theme and back tracking a couple of weeks, Twin Cities Bronze had a very successful and energized concert in Hutchinson Minnesota on October 16th. We originally intended to hold a workshop the day prior, but ran into conflicts with harvest season keeping many bell ringers from attending. On Saturday, as we drove through the beautiful (and colorful) countryside to set up for the concert, it was obvious how busy the farming communities were. Everyone was out in the fields combining. We felt very fortunate they were able to take a couple of hours off on Sunday afternoon for our concert. A note, the workshop has been rescheduled for the weekend of January 14 and 15.
Finally, we’ve updated our postings on YouTube, so check out the latest and greatest. Just click our YouTube link up above and you’ll find several of our favorite pieces performed at various venues across the country.
Holidays, here we come!
September 21, 2011
After an exhilarating summer performance for the Handbell Musicians of America (AGEHR) National Seminar, and our own Showcase concert, it's time to get the Holiday repertoire engine running. Of course we'll have our audience favorites, but Monica is challenging us with some new pieces too.
Watch our upcoming events list below for specifics, but as it sits now, we have at least one event per month beginning in October.
July 21, 2011
It’s a word that has many meanings to members of Twin Cities Bronze. We just completed the National Showcase concert last night at Peace United Methodist Church in Shoreview. The audience was wonderful, and everyone had fun.
But Mother Nature was brutal: Temps on Wednesday hovered around 100 degrees, and while the air conditioning inside was a welcome relief from the heat and humidity, all ringers had a sheen of sweat going after the first song.
How cruel it was when Thursday morning arrived with low humidity and a forecast of 88 degrees after an incredibly long week of the intense and sticky heat. As one concert attendee put it – "We live in Minnesota. We deal with -40 degree wind chills every winter. That should give us a pass for the heat indexes in the summertime."
Even through the sweat, the energy levels were addicting. We performed the entire concert this time – starting 1.5 hours earlier helped to make sure all pieces fit into the 10 p.m. deadline. Our percussion friends from Orchestra Hall “rocked” in “Rytmus”, “Three, Four, Shut the Door” and “Five, Six, Pick up Sticks”. And “Fantasy Suite” (yes, we played all three movements straight through) tested our endurance in the heat, but the grand finish at the end of "Fantasy No. 3 in G minor" was glorious.
The final “phew” is attributed to the bell storage closet, which in recent weeks closely resembled a junk closet where you may be scared to open the door. Between the regular bells and equipment, the rented 2s, the doubling bells, the borrowed chime set and all the toys for “Songs for the Nursery,” we didn’t have room for anything else. After last night’s concert, the 2s are being sent back to Schulmerich, the toys are all going home with their respective ringers and our bell ringing friends at Peace will be able to access their equipment. Now we just need to figure out a permanent storage space for the three new tables we purchased.
Thankfully we have about a month off now to sit back, relax and recuperate. Or at least for some of us. Here's a “ringing” ovation to “Malec” (ringer Maggie Grube and her fiancé Alec Sonsteby) who are getting married in Oregon next month. Congratulations!
Ambitious. Inspiring. Tight. Exquisite. Effervescence. Intoxicating. Stunning. Energy.
July 15, 2011
The Opening Concert last night at the Handbell Musicians of America National Seminar was all of these words and more. We rocked!
As a side note, all of those words mentioned at the top of the post were comments made by audience members after the concert.
Sadly, 10 p.m. arrived earlier than anyone in the ballroom wanted, and we had to cut the concert short – ending on Hart Morris’ Seven, Eight, Lay Them Straight. But don’t worry, an encore presentation of the entire concert – including the piece we cut – will happen at 7 p.m. Wednesday July 20, at Peace United Methodist Church in Shoreview. We might also add in an intermission. We’ve got a lot of material, and we want to share it all with you, so prepare for a deliciously full concert.
The acoustics in the Hilton ballroom actually made for a great handbell concert setting. We were worried that the back of the audience wouldn’t be able to hear the bells, but the worry was for naught. And if you’d like a verbal recap of the entire concert, check out theHandbell Podcast led by two former Twin Cities Bronze members, Paul Weller and Dean Jensen.
There are a lot of sleepy Twin Cities Bronze members today trying to remember how we used to be able to pull those late nights and still function the next day. We’ll have to figure it out quickly, because our National Showcase performance is just around the corner.
Let the fun begin
July 13, 2011
The trailer is packed with handbells, handchimes, Whitechapels, tables, new tables, extra tables, doubling bells, extra doubling bells (can we call them tripling bells?) and toys. We won’t elaborate on the toy part – you’ll just have to come to the concert to see what kinds of tricks (and fun) we have up our sleeves.
We are ready. We are tired. We’ve had laughter, frustrations and magical moments as we prepared for this concert. We’d say blood, sweat and tears, and while true, it sounds a little cliché. We’ve fought through injuries, illness and even two nights of tornado sirens interrupting our rehearsal. And just this week, as we were packing the trailer at 11 p.m. Tuesday night, the temperature finally gave us a break with highs in the 70s.
So make sure you have one of the two following concerts on your schedule – Thursday, July 14 at 8:30 p.m. at the Handbell Musicians of America National Seminar in downtown Minneapolis. Or Wednesday, July 20 at 7 p.m. at Peace United Methodist Church, Shoreview. You don’t want to miss it!
Feeling hot, hot, hot...
June 8, 2011
Record high temperatures of 103 degrees Farenheit in the Twin Cities on Tuesday found members rehearsing in a smaller (air conditioned) space at Peace United Methodist Church. We've gathered so many instruments and tools for our repertoire that the smaller space felt almost crowded. Luckily the staging areas we'll be using for both the National Seminar and National Showcase concerts in July are big enough to handle everything.
The songs are really starting to come together. We're still finalizing some aspects of the performance, but these two concerts you won't want to miss!
How much does one single sheet of music weigh?
No one has actually made the effort to weigh our music folders for the upcoming National Seminar concert - and while Monica says it's not the weight that matters, but the variety of songs - it still seems like we could each use a second binder. Phil Holst put it perfectly at Sunday night's (May 8) rehearsal: "Our folders have become obese."
And we're still waiting for two more pieces to make an appearance - one favorite repeat from a few years ago, and one newbie. The rumor of the newbie caught us by surprise. It's truly hot off the press. We're keeping a tight lip on it, but it's highly anticipated to be a lot of fun - something you won't want to miss!
As a side note, the ensemble record for a folder needing to be replaced - due to the high volume of music and frequent use - in one season is two. And that happenend last year. We won't name which ringer is so abusive - or maybe diligent in score study - to his/her folder. But this year might put more folders to the test.
We've also added additional rehearsals to the mix. And at each one, Monica throws a new idea our way to take home and work on. It keeps the at-home score study entertaining and challenging, and brings about plenty of discussions during rehearsals on who has what hand available to get what bell.
A perfect audience
The best musical performance equation: Fun songs (check) plus talented ringers (check) mixed in with an enthusiastic audience (check). It was the perfect recipe for us on April 16, when we took a long day tour to Marshfield, Wis. (172 miles one way) for our second concert this season. Twin Cities Bronze had held a workshop at First Presbyterian Church in December of 2004, so we were hoping for better weather this time. But the audience members who did brave the snow and fit our concert between other local activities like prom and sporting competitions were the greatest audience a performance group could wish for.
There were tears. There were smiles. There were goose bumps. And many members of the audience were knowledgeable ringers, who commented to us afterward that we took our ringing to higher level of performance.
During a two hour discussion the following day at Sunday's rehearsal, (no time off for the dedicated) members of the group shared little stories about what we learned, what we experienced, and how we can bring those lessons and emotions to all of our future performances.
Some ringers share their memories and thoughts from the tour:
Monica McGowan - When Twin Cities Bronze traveled to Pinnacle last July, we contracted to charter a bus and driver from Progressive Travel of Spencer, Wis., just up the road from our concert in Marshfield. How FUN it was to see our bus driver, Dave, in the audience. He had just returned from a tour at 3 a.m. that morning, but was so glad he made it back in time so he could come to our concert!
Jeni Jonett - Saturday's concert was an emotional day for me - I was returning to a church where I spent five years ringing in the handbell choir. But what really surprised me was even though I was a little over-excited, as an ensemble we were very calm, very focused and on task for the concert. The resulting performance high had me going strong, all the way home and even through three Palm Sunday services at my church the next morning.
Alyssa Boock - I drove up the night before the concert so I would have time to visit my grandparents' graves in Spencer, Wis. Wouldn't you know we had a blizzard in the middle of April! I enjoyed a trip down memory lane with all the time I spent in Spencer as a kid. In some ways, it was sad to see some of the changes, but also refreshing that some things were the same - such as waiting for a train to pass. Some of my dad's cousins were in attendance. It was good to see them and all the other happy faces out in the audience.
Patti Munter - I've lived in Minnesota my entire life and have been to Wisconsin a surprisingly small number of times. I do not know a lot about our neighbor to the east so I was surprised to drive through the town of Colby, Wis., and learn that it is the birthplace of Colby cheese. I just had to buy Colby cheese in Colby and I shared it with the group during lunch before the concert. Being in Wisconsin, it seemed appropriate to bring all of us together with cheese!
How many beats were in that measure?
OK, was that 1-and-a or 1-eee-and? If you were in the Twin Cities area the past few weeks and heard the strange sound of rhythms beating on laps, desks, pencils clicking on music books or random counting out loud, never fear. Very likely you're hearing Twin Cities Bronze members studying their music and learning the difficult counting patterns for several pieces that landed in our books recently. We're breaking the mold - the traditional four beats to a measure is so rock 'n roll and over played on the radio. Songs get a lot more interesting when unexpected rhythm hiccups are thrown into the counting mix. But yes, it means we have to study our music a lot more thoroughly.
We're on a tight schedule. The upcoming concert in Marshfield is just around the corner and we're finessing some songs for that concert, while at the same time trying to get others learned and more comfortable in our heads and our hands. Reports of ear worms (songs stuck in our heads) is becoming more and more frequent, but since we like the music, is just a slight annoyance that keeps us awake at night.
No first concert jitters
One concert down, and dozens left to go yet this busy season for Twin Cities Bronze. But don't read that first sentence in a negative tone - the first concert was very exciting because none of the ringers had first-time jitters and anxiety this year.
Central Presbyterian Church in St. Paul invited us to perform during the morning worship service (March 20), followed by a concert after a delicious lasagna lunch. It was an interesting mix of music for the ringers - Lent season music tends to require slower, more reflective styles while Twin Cities Bronze concerts are much more upbeat and, as Monica told the audience, fun! The high energy levels inside made the sanctuary the place to be Sunday afternoon, and nobody missed the rain and dreary weather outside.
It's always fun to hear the traditional "I didn't know handbells could do that!" comment from audience members, and Sunday's audience shared afterward with ringers how much they learned about the delightful techniques and instruments - as well as how much fun it looked like the ensemble was having. Who knows? Maybe the excitement of Twin Cities Bronze's concert will help members of Central Presbyterian Church get the church's set of Petit and Fritsens dusted off and making pretty music once again.
Back in the saddle and off at a gallop
After two weeks off from rehearsal - due to snow and travels - there was definite excitement in the air Sunday (3/6) night. As new music was handed out and then hashed through at rehearsal, the excitement grew by leaps and bounds. We won't reveal any of the new pieces by name - but we can confirm that they're traditional Twin Cities Bronze style - fast, furious and FUN!
The Twin Cities Bronze upcoming concert schedule is starting to fill in as well. So many great opportunities to perform as we lead up to the National Seminar July 14-17. Make sure you check out the event calendar and see if you can't catch a concert near you.
Many members of the group were happy to have a slower January and February following the extremely busy December and holiday season, but it's nice to get back into the swing of things again. So hold onto your seats, because this year is going to fly by!
"Ringing in the new year"
The Twin Cities Bronze 2011 season started off with a bang – and we're not talking about any bells clinking. We managed to hold one rehearsal in early February before the winter weather returned to Minnesota and snowed all of us in for our second scheduled practice. All members are diligently working on some of the new pieces – and favorites that are back in our books because we just can't bear to put them away.
We're also working hard on lining up several weekend concerts in the next few months – both in the Twin Cities and in our neighboring states. As these performances become finalized we'll make sure to blog, Tweet and change our Facebook status to let you know where and when we'll be playing!
On the road with Twin Cities Bronze
The traveling schedule has been hectic this summer and fall for Twin Cities Bronze.
In July, the group went on a Dakota Territory tour, the highlights being a showcase performance at the International Music Camp at the International Peace Garden on the border between Manitoba and North Dakota, and additional concerts in cities around North and South Dakota.
In September, Twin Cities Bronze promoted itself at the Arts Midwest Conference held in St. Paul, both with a concert featuring all the genres of music the group performs and a promotional booth. An Insights into Artistry workshop was scheduled in Waconia, Minn., later in the month, but due to a scheduling conflict, this workshop turned into a Sunday afternoon performance at Trinity Lutheran Church.
October brought another trip to North Dakota, this time to Grand Forks. A relaxing weekend was spent discussing the next 10 years for Twin Cities Bronze and ringing a concert at United Lutheran Church. The local public television crew was at the concert, interviewing members and audience guests, giving Twin Cities Bronze a great promotional boost. An Insights into Artistry workshop is scheduled for September 2010 in Grand Forks.
The program for the concerts this summer highlighted songs from the past 10 years for Twin Cities Bronze, as well as two “new” selections in their repertoire: “Fantasy in C” by C. William Goff, which opens all concerts and “August 9th Adagio” by Edward Elgar, arranged by Chad Etzel. The group rings the later piece in memory of David Davidson , who was heavily involved in AGEHR at the national level and conducted Distinctly Bronze for ten years, which some members of Twin Cities Bronze attended during his tenure as Maestro. He lost his battle with cancer in September of this year.
Upcoming holiday events include the annual concert at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, the Doc Severinsen holiday concert and Twelfth Night Concert on Jan. 9, 2010.
Twin Cities Bronze Performs in First Concert of Its Kind
Twin Cities Bronze members had a full and busy day April 4. The ensemble joined up with Strikepoint from Duluth, River Bend Bells from Mankato and Bells of the Lakes from Minneapolis in a joint concert held at the Bloomington Center for the Arts.
According to organizers, this four choir concert was a first in AGEHR history.
The choirs performed en masse "Sharon's Song" by Donald Allured, "It is Well with My Soul" by Phillip P. Bliss and arranged by Cathy Moklebust and "Evening Meditation" by Michael Helman under the direction of TCBronze's Monica McGowan, Strikepoint's Bill Alexander and River Bend Bells' Wendy Greiner respectively.
Each choir also performed three or four solo pieces. TCBronze showcased "Danza Festivo" by Arnold Sherman, "Bells in My Heart" by Kazuko Okamoto, "Aria for Handbells" by Dale Wood featuring the Petit and Fritzen Dutch handbells and "Exultate" by Josh Bauder.
The concert ended with the mass choirs ringing "Bolero" by Maurice Ravel and arranged by William H. Mathis, who directed. "Bolero" is written in four separate parts, that, when combined together, build during the piece to mimic the full orchestral sound Ravel originally composed. This was the first time Mathis' "Bolero" arrangement was performed with four handbell choirs as it had been written.
Twin Cities Bronze Raises Hundreds of Dollars at Mid-Winter Benefit Concert
Twin Cities Bronze, one of the nation's premier English Handbell ensembles, raised over $800 in freewill offerings for two local causes at their Mid-Winter Concert.
The 60 minute concert featured a wide variety of repertoire and was attended by 115 people on Saturday, January 24th at Peace United Methodist Church in Shoreview, MN. Twin Cities Bronze is one of the few professional handbell ensembles that perform without a conductor. They rely on musicianship, teamwork, and technical and musical execution to thrill audiences with classical and secular selections.
Proceeds from the Mid-Winter Concert were split between Peace United Methodist which graciously provides rehearsal and storage space for Twin Cities Bronze, and The Allen Benefit Fund. The Allen Benefit Fund was established to raise money to help offset medical costs for Janine and Bernie Allen, who were critically injured in a motorcycle accident in August of 2008.
Monica McGowan, the Artistic Director of Twin Cities Bronze, said, "As a professional ensemble, I believe it is important for Twin Cities Bronze to be an active participant and supporter of organizations, and people. Ringing a benefit concert of this type is somewhat unusual for us, but it was a successful event for everyone."
Twin Cities Bronze is available for fundraising performances on a limited basis. For more information, contact Ms. McGowan at 952-461-7261.
'Jingle Bell Doc' is one blowout holiday show
By Rob Hubbard
Special to the Pioneer Press
Article Last Updated: 12/20/2008 01:39:56 AM CST
If your ideal Christmas concert is something subdued, simple and solemn, then this weekend's Minnesota Orchestra pops programs are definitely not for you. The orchestra's longtime pops conductor, Doc Severinsen, has returned to town to lead an extravaganza as flamboyant as his eye-popping wardrobe.
On Friday night, the Minnesota Orchestra was one of five ensembles on stage for arrangements of Christmas music that swung, swooned, soothed and skipped along pleasantly. The groups crowding the stage of Minneapolis' Orchestra Hall traded tunes when they weren't collaborating, giving the concert the flavor of a holiday buffet. And thanks to Severinsen's enthusiastic leadership (and ebullient boosterism), it proved to be an entertaining blockbuster of a concert.
When the orchestra wasn't lending its sumptuous sound to some lush arrangement of a seasonal song, the Minnesota Chorale was hypnotizing with its harmonies. Or Twin Cities Bronze was filling the hall with the sound of hand bells. Or Stillwater's Ascension Youth Choir was reminding everyone of the special quality children's voices bring to carols. Or, perhaps most enjoyably, Severinsen was bopping along with a big band, scaling the peaks of his trumpet's range.
While the results were always admirable when Severinsen let one of the ensembles strut its stuff, the concert was at its most thrilling when the assembled multitudes joined forces. A John Rutter arrangement of "Deck the Halls" was a fine forum for the Minnesota Chorale's talents, but passing the tune off to the bebopping big band was a welcome choice, too.
Other impressive performances came when the Minnesota Chorale's leader, Kathy Saltzman Romey, took the podium for a lovely arrangement of "What Child is This?" And when Severinsen's solo trumpet soared atop the orchestra on "O Holy Night," his high notes proved as exciting as back in his days leading the "Tonight Show" orchestra.
A pretty straight reading of the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's "Messiah" proved a full-voiced finale for what had the air of one last big musical blowout on the holiday calendar.
Rob Hubbard is an associate producer for American Public Media's "Performance Today."