An audience of all ages poured into the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center on Sunday afternoon to hear the internationally recognized community handbell ensemble, The Raleigh Ringers from Raleigh, North Carolina.
Once the crowd was settled the house lights were dimmed and the stage lights highlighted the musicians as they walked onto the stage in a single file line. The women were dressed in all black floor-length dresses and the men were in black suits and white button-down shirts.
Director David M. Harris ignited the crowd as he led the ensemble into its first song, “Blue Christmas.” Following the first song, Harris took a minute to better acquaint himself with the audience. He asked whether the audience has played handbells before and who has gone to a Raleigh Ringers performance in the past.
Throughout the first half of the performance Harris discussed where the group has previously toured, how each handbell was designed and the materials they were made of.
“Linus and Lucy,” a fan favorite, was played and drove the audience to dance in their seats. As the musicians played the song, one of the bass handbell players played with a blanket as if he were Linus from Charlie Brown.
The group then played a tribute to the military with the “Armed Forces Salute” that included “The Army Goes Rolling Along,” “The Marines’ Hymn” “Anchors Aweigh,” “The Wild Blue Yonder” and “Semper Paratus.” Harris recognized all veterans and current military personnel by asking them and their families to rise.
As the crowd separated for a brief intermission it was encouraged to look at the various merchandise. There were CDs with The Raleigh Ringers’ holiday collection and spring tour collection, as well as T-shirts, musical gloves used to play and handbells.
The concert quickly came to a close following a few more Christmas tunes. After the performance the audience was invited on stage to look at the handbells up close and see how much they vary from one another in size and weight.