- Associated Press - Friday, September 5, 2014

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. (AP) - Once-in-a-lifetime opportunities don’t come ringing that often, but one local church musical group answered the call as soon as it did.

Saturday, just before the Washington Nationals take the field versus the Philadelphia Phillies, the Charles Town Presbyterian Church handbell ringers will join hundreds of ringers from across the area in ringing in the National Anthem.

The Charles Town Presbyterian Church group will be representing the Eastern Panhandle with 12 members.

The local church group that will be ringing in the National Anthem includes Janet Homer, Brooke Smith, Julia McDonough, Ceil Fraiser, Debbie Gregory, Jessica LaRue, Debbie Henshaw, Stephanie Rossi, Roberta Churchill, Allison Howard, Marsha Dibbern and Connor Howard.

The handbell ringers from Charles Town Presbyterian Church have been playing since 1966, said Fraiser, the group’s music director.

Fraiser said that the group has been to several handbell ringing festivals across the country including Buffalo, New York; Niagara Falls, New York; Ocean City, Maryland; and Nashville, Tennessee.

The group is part of the Handbell Ringers of America.

Fraiser said the group was invited to perform Saturday after she saw a newsletter announcing the notice that the event was going to take place.

Debbie Gregory, one of the group’s handbell ringers, said the ability to perform the national anthem was a great opportunity for the group.

“It’s like something you can check off of your bucket list,” Gregory said.

The group uses a total of 50 octaves when playing the bells.

Jessica LaRue, another handbell ringer who has been playing for 18 years, described the opportunity as great and challenging.

In order to prepare for the national anthem, LaRue said the bell ringers practiced once a week for more than two months. The group began preparing for the event in late June.

“We had to come in and memorize the music, which is something we don’t do,” she said.

Normally, the group has music in front of them, but on Saturday the ringers will have to rely on memorization.

While this will be the first year the handbell ringers from Charles Town Presbyterian Church was invited to go, it is not the first year the national anthem was rung in by handbell ringers.

LaRue said that last year more than 500 ringers took the field.

“Last year it got 40,000 hits on YouTube,” she said.

The handbell ringers are scheduled to perform the anthem at Nationals Park at 3:56 p.m.

Members of the group said while they are not nervous, they are excited to see how the changes in location may affect the sound of their playing since they usually practice and perform inside the church.

In addition, LaRue said it was an opportunity to be able to show people what handbell ringing is all about.

Fraiser said the reliance of others in a musical group is showcased through the handbell ringing because if one person makes a mistake, it affects the entire group.

“Some people think it’s some dinky bells that we ring and that’s not the case,” she said. “It’s just not just about any one person. It is a group effort and we all have to rely on each other.”


Information from: The Journal, https://journal-news.net/

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide