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The Riverside Ringers are a 4 octave handbell and handchime group residing at the Federated Church in Skowhegan, ME. The group consists of 11 ringers and one director. Rehearsals are every Tuesday night, and we perform in church during service once a month. During the Christmas Holiday season, we typically travel to area nursing homes and residential facilities, bringing a concert to those who are unable to otherwise attend. The group has played at the Festival of Trees in Hinkley for many years as well.
The Riverside Ringers perform annual Holiday and Spring concerts, using a wide range of music, both secular and sacred. This year we will be performing our Spring concert on June 1, 2014 at 3PM at the Federated Church and open to the public. The theme for this concert will be show tunes. During the summer, we suspend regular rehearsals, and take the time to invite anyone who would like to try bell ringing to join us for "free ringing", where we run through music for the pure joy of ringing. This provides an opportunity for those that would like to try handbells for the first time, and for the experienced players to broaden their knowledge within the range of bells.
The Port-a-belles, a smaller group of handbell ringers, travels throughout the year playing for a variety of organizations, such as schools, nursing homes, and women's groups. This group is made up of 6 ringers and one director who travel to Skowhegan, Madison, and Waterville. As the name implies, the group is smaller and more portable.
We are also able to provide an opportunity for young students to play with our youth bells. There are currently 11 students from 4-12 grade playing in the youth bell group. Some have only just started with bells, while others have been playing for 8 years. The youth bells play in church during services several times during the year, and will be joining the Riverside Ringers during the Spring concert in June. Within this youth group, we also have a quartet that will be debuting at the concert.
In addition to practicing and performing, the ringers also take the opportunity when possible to attend conferences and workshops to improve our skills and expand our repertoire. These conferences provide us the opportunity to learn from some of the foremost composers, conductors and instructors from throughout the country. We have traveled to conferences in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, and look forward to the next conference in 2015 which will be held at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
We always welcome anyone who would like to join our group, either as a substitute ringer, or a steady member, when the positions are available. The requirements for joining the handbells are a commitment to rehearsals and performances, a basic knowledge of music, and the desire to share the joy of ringing with others. If interested in joining our groups, or having one of our groups perform for you, contact Gail Kelly at either 474-2908, or mepanj@Hotmail.com for further information.