‘Ringin’ in the Irish’ handbell concert comes to Century Center

The Handbell Musicians of America plays its first-ever concert in South Bend on Saturday at the Century Center.
Published: Mar. 18, 2023 at 6:44 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Another St. Patrick’s Day is in the books, but the Irish celebrations aren’t over yet.

The Handbell Musicians of America are playing the “Ringin’ the Irish’ free concert at the Century Center.

While the Area 5 Handbell Musicians of America encompasses five states, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and West Virginia, this is their first official concert in South Bend.

And to “ring in” the Irish, over 250 handbell musicians performed various music, including some Irish classics led by Guest Composer Stephanie Rhoades.

Rhoades is one of two conductors to direct the United States at the International Handbell Symposium.

“Part of the Ringin’ the Irish theme is that we’re here on St. Patrick’s Day,” says Jarod Ogier, the Area 5 Chair-Elect for the Handbell Musicians of America. “We wanted to lean into that theme, especially in South Bend. We saw the Notre Dame Leprechaun yesterday, so we tried to lean into that a little. And the music we chose does have some Irish connection as well. One of the pieces we’re going to play in the concert is a Celtic arrangement that includes a flute player, so we’re going to have bells and flute all going together in that Celtic style.”

Officials with the Handbell Musicians of America tell 16 News that handbell playing is evolving to include new sounds.

“Those handbell techniques are changing all the time,” Ogier said. “Folks are pushing the envelope; they’re trying new techniques. There are groups out there that have actually bent handbell pitches using water, so they can ring the bell and put the bell into water or raise it out of the water and create a bent sound. You’re not going to hear that today, but it’s a really interesting art in that it’s living. Our composers, our ringers, they’re all here really doing this work with us.”