• Calvin hand bell ringer Emily Wittenberg performs a classic Russian piece "Trokia" by Lt. Kije during a visit to Camp Darby, Italy.  Wittenberg has been playing hand bells since third grade.

    Alive with the sounds of music

    Calvin hand bell ringer Emily Wittenberg performs a classic Russian piece "Trokia" by Lt. Kije during a visit to Camp Darby, Italy. Wittenberg has been playing hand bells since third grade.

  • (Left to right) Chapel hand bell ringers Katharine Starke, Emily Graf, Brian George and Kevin Karol perform "Down by the Riverside", an American folk tune arrangement by Arnold Sherman, for the Camp Darby, Italy, military community July 13.

    Ring the bells

    (Left to right) Chapel hand bell ringers Katharine Starke, Emily Graf, Brian George and Kevin Karol perform "Down by the Riverside", an American folk tune arrangement by Arnold Sherman, for the Camp Darby, Italy, military community July 13.

CAMP DARBY, Italy - The Calvin and Chapel High School Hand Bell Ringers, members of Tower Hill First Presbyterian Church in Red Bank, N. J., performed a concert at the chapel here July 13.

The two groups of high-school teens performed on a set of English hand bells -- comprised of 66 tuned, bronze bells -- while being led by the church's music director, Charles Harris.

"This is our first time to perform in Italy and our first time to play on a military installation," said Harris. "We were glad for the opportunity to show our support for our American armed forces."

Chapel hand bell ringer Emily Graf, a sophomore at Rumson-Fairhaven High School in New Jersey, was surprised at what she saw during her first visit to a military installation. "I thought there would be tanks and HUMVEE's driving all around and that the people would be very strict," said Graf. "But, everyone here is very nice and its quiet and the Italian buildings are very pretty."

Calvin hand bell ringer David George, who recently graduated from Middletown High School South, Middletown, New Jersey, said he enjoyed being able to travel to distant places during his summer break to perform. "We youth do a lot of fund raising in order to go on these tours and its nice to be able to perform all over the world and meet people who are interested in music and hand bells," said George, whose younger brother also plays in the church choir.

The hand bell choir will continue touring Italy with concerts in Florence and Venice. The choir has been going on national and international summer tours since 1967 to places like The White House, Disneyland, New York City, Epcot Center in Walt Disney World, the United Nations in Vienna, the U.S. Embassy in Norway, and St. Paul's Cathedral in London, Germany and Prague, according to Harris.

Chaplains who are interested in the choir performing at their chapel can contact them through their web page www.towerhillchurch.org.

Page last updated Wed July 15th, 2009 at 03:48