It’s been ten years since a group of musicians in Oliver decided the community was lacking a handbell choir. With nothing more than a set of borrowed bells and participants keen on seeing it created, the Oliver Handbell Ringers (OHR) team was created. The group set out raising funds and before long, with a supportive town behind them, they began purchasing their own equipment.
Having started from the bare roots, the ensemble has been guided by multiple directors learning handbell technique, showmanship and musical theories. Pouring in the practice time together and singularly at home, has resulted in the choir we see today.
The group now gives its members a workout on three octaves of handbells, an octave of cymbells, three octaves of hand chimes and various other add-ons.
“Sometimes we ask the ringers to perform tasks that defy both logic and physics. This group seems to happily rise to the challenge and we always find a way to fit it all in, working together,” Director Helen Wollf said. “Of course, being able to sprout an extra arm or two could be helpful in some cases!”
With the Christmas season just around the corner, the group’s schedule is growing. Two of its members are off to ring with the Okanagan Handbell Chorus, an ad hoc bell choir developed to accompany the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra. Wollf has also been asked to be a clinician at the BC Guild of English Handbell Ringers’ Spring Ring conference.
In order to properly celebrate their tenth anniversary, OHR has a full concert planned. One Winter’s Night will be presented on Friday, December 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, December 17 at 3:00 p.m. Both performances will take place at Christ the King Catholic Church in Oliver.
The line up is full of bells ringing, voices singing and stories being told. Admission is free, with a free-will offering being taken. Details can be found on the group’s Facebook page.