The Baylor Bronze rings in holiday season with handbell concert

The Baylor Bronze will be performing at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday in Roxy Grove Hall. Courtesy photo

By Cassidy Pate | Reporter

Baylor’s signature handbell ensemble, The Baylor Bronze, is ringing in the Christmas season with their annual concert for the Baylor and Waco communities at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday in Roxy Grove Hall.

If anyone is unable to attend The Baylor Bronze concert because of all the other holiday festivities going on around campus, the concert will be streamed live. To catch the live stream of the production, click here.

This event is free of charge and open to the public. Audience members are encouraged to grab their Christmas sweaters and bring good cheer while listening to a Christmas classics melody.

The Baylor Bronze has been rehearsing the music for their Christmas concert since the beginning of the fall semester. Bob Avant, adjunct lecturer in music and director of The Baylor Bronze, has been directing The Baylor Bronze for eight years.

“[There is] a big mix of fast and slow, happy and thoughtful pieces. I mean, it’s just all over the place,” Avant said.

The first music selection of the concert will be “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” by John Francis Wade and Johann Cruger, beginning the night on a lighter note.

However, Avant said a couple of the concert’s pieces have been incorporated to emphasize the tragedies that have happened this semester, such as hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the November shooting in Sutherland Springs.

Avant said students come from all over campus to participate in the ensemble. Only four students, including one graduate student, in the ensemble are music majors and the remaining 10 study a wide range of majors.

“A collection of individuals play specified notes within a range of the full ensemble such that when they play their right notes at the right time, the music comes from it,” Avant said.

Likewise, Avant related handbell playing to playing a piano.

“If you had a piano and you had 13 people playing at the piano and each person had two white keys with the sharps and flats around them that they had to be responsible for, they just play their notes when their music comes up,” Avant said.

Avant said physical and rhythmic obstacles as well as musicality are what make handbell playing a strenuous task.

“It’s not just the right bell at the right time, but [playing] in the right way musically,” Avant said.

Each of the 14 students will have at least four handbells designated to them in what handbell players call four-in-hand, or playing two bells that are an octave apart in each hand.

Sixty-one is a full set of handbells, but The Baylor Bronze will also be using nine bells from an extended range of tone for a total of 70 bells.

Avant said the ensemble is using a full set of 61 hand chimes as well.

“There are a lot of different techniques that we use whether that be with sticks or mallets,” said Fort Worth junior Zane Freemyer.

Freemyer has been playing the handbells since he was introduced to the apparatus by his home church in third grade.

“The fact that I still get to play the handbells is very cool,” Freemyer said. “It’s my favorite ensemble at Baylor.”

Colorado Springs senior Sarah Weber has been playing handbells since fourth grade. She joined The Baylor Bronze her freshman year and has remained a member for four years while going to school.

Weber said something unique about this ensemble is that the students are permitted to move around and ring different handbells in different areas.

“I just love whenever we perform to show all of the hard work we’ve done this semester,” Weber said.

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