Welcome to the Colonial English Handbell Ringers’ web page. Our group has been delighting Washington audiences since 1991. We bring a 5-octave long set of nearly 80 bells from the White Chapel foundry in England and performs at concerts, festivals, weddings, fairs, and private functions – anywhere our unique and entertaining form of music is desired. Programs are traditionally 40-60 minutes in length, but can be tailored to particular requests. Beautifully costumed in Colonial, Renaissance, or traditional dress, we are a unique visual and auditory experience.
The holidays bring out the child in all of us, and what better way to celebrate the season than with the Colonial English Handbell Ringers “Young at Heart” Holiday Concert. Featuring youthful Yuletide classics such as “Frosty the Snowman” and the original “Away in a Jingle,” some traditional favorites, as well as selections from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, The Wizard of Oz and even Looney Toons, this concert is certainly a show to make you smile! There are also some beautiful new selections this year, such as “Prayer” from Hansel and Gretel and of course, our traditional Sing-A-Long! We are sure “yule” love it!
The Colonial English Handbell Ringers invite you to be our guest at our upcoming 2016 Holiday concerts. Most shows are FREE to the public, although some may require advance reservations or tickets –see below:
Eastminster Presbyterian Church
5601 Randolph St., Bladensburg MD
Free Show with plenty of space for guests
5999 Emerson St., Bladensburg, MD
Please see a ringer for details – retirement building with very limited space for guests
Bethany Christian Church
7128 Allentown Rd., Camp Springs, MD
Free show with plenty of space for guests
4321 Wisconsin Ave. NW Washington, DC
Free Show in a brand new venue for 2016!
201 S. Washington St., Alexandria, VA
Two shows – seating is first come first served, so please arrive early.
Bowie Center for the Performing Arts
15200 Annapolis Rd, Bowie, MD
All shows are FREE with the exception of the Bowie show on December 17. This is a fundraiser, with tickets for $5 each; proceeds support our group with equipment and supply costs. Either purchase a ticket from a ringer, or through our link on Brown Paper Tickets (which charges a small service fee)
Now known as the Colonial Handbell Ringers, the group originated under the direction of Nancy Poore Tufts, who was largely responsible for bringing English handbell ringing to the Washington, D.C. area. In 1991, Mary Ann Parker took over as director and the group continued to grow its venues and repertoire. Mary wrote and arranged many of the pieces the group performs today – and her spirit and dedication to the group has inspired us to continue.
With Mary’s retirement as conductor (she still rings with the group), ringer Nena Manzo took the conductor’s baton in 2007. Elie Cossa and David Emanuel handle scheduling, planning and public relations. Many of the original ringers have remained in the group off and on through the years, with one family providing ringers from three generations. The group is volunteer, independent and not for profit.
Our group is unique in that we are one of the only groups to play from original bell “charts” instead of standard music notation. This means our music is on large poster board sized sheets that are written to be seen from a distance. We ring a 5-octave “long” set consisting of 79 bells from the world-famous Whitechapel foundry in London, England. These hand-tuned bronze bells provide the best in traditional sound, and are also a visual treat. The Whitechapel foundry has a tradition of over 5 centuries of bell-making, casting “Big Ben,” our own Liberty Bell, and the first sets of English handbells.
Although the bulk of our performances are during December for holiday shows, we have also played year-round at concerts, festivals, weddings, faires, and private functions – anywhere our unique and entertaining form of music is desired. Programs are traditionally 40-60 minutes in length, but can be tailored to particular requests. Beautifully costumed in Colonial, Renaissance or traditional dress, we are a unique visual and auditory experience. Past performance venues include: The Pageant of Peace, Gadsby’s Tavern, The Lyceum, The White House, The Annapolis State House, assisted living homes, churches and country clubs.
Our small ensemble, “Touch of Clash” also plays for public and private functions. This 4-6 person group plays a variety of musical styles and is great for comic relief (and of course offers more serious performances). The 4 of us had so much fun we started adding performances and usually do a small show as an intermission for the large group during our standard programs. “A Touch of Clash” comes in handy for smaller venues. The large group requires more space both for the equipment and the people. Planning a wedding? Want light background music for a function? We are the easier logistics choice.
- Bell ringing is good, old-fashioned fun by Thomas Warren | WTOP – 2012
- Colonial English Hand Bell Ringers on TBD by Hillary Esquina | TBD – 2010 (video)
Email us at Colonialringers@aol.com or check us out on Facebook.