Submitted by Lynn Chapman
Handbell Choir Director
OROVILLE – “Touch of Grace” handbell choir from the Oroville Free Methodist Church will be presenting a free concert at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 16 at the Oroville Free Methodist Church. The Oroville High School Girls’ Choir will also be performing several songs from their upcoming concert.
About four years ago a set of Belleplates from the Whitestone Church were borrowed for a Christmas service. Lynn Chapman, the director, had played in a handbell choir in Oregon and directed and was willing to direct a small handbell ensemble using the Belleplates. The women playing in the ensemble enjoyed playing so much, that the Belleplates were not returned for a year. They not only performed at the Oroville Free Methodist Church, but also at the Habitat for Humanity fall concert.
This exposure to handbell ringing was the beginning of “Touch of Grace.” A one octave set of Malmark Handbells, which includes 13 notes, was purchased on eBay and donated to the church the following year. Very few songs, however, can be played with only 13 tones, so donations were requested from the congregation of the Oroville Free Methodist Church for additional handbells.
The music of these handbells seemed to have enhanced religious and community programs and had provided pleasure for the ringers and audiences alike. God is good and the people in the church responded with their generous donations. Two additional octaves of handbells have been purchased, as well as tables, table pads, table coverings, music stands, music, gloves and mallets.
Touch of Grace Handbell Choir now has three octaves of Malmark Handbells, which consists of 37 bells. They are now working to add handchimes to their choir.
There is an Area Handbell Conference being held in Yakima on July 11 to 13. There will be concerts, classes and ringing sessions for all ages and abilities, ringing 2 to 6+ octaves of bells. On July 13, the conference will conclude with a final massed concert that is open to the public. Touch of Grace handbell ringers will be attending this conference to enhance their musical skills.