Bell ringing in a Christmas tradition

Christmas Bells & Whistles concert presented by the Alleluia Ringers handbell choir and the Merrie Pipers recorder orchestra.

There’s just something about bells at Christmas time.

Over the past five years, a Christmas tradition has developed for many people in Kelowna—the annual  Christmas Bells & Whistles concert presented by the Alleluia Ringers handbell choir and the Merrie Pipers recorder orchestra.

This year’s concert takes place Sunday, Dec. 16, 2 p.m., at First United Church in Kelowna (corner of Richter and Bernard). Admission is by donation at the door (suggested amount $10).

Also featured this year are esteemed local soprano Dawn Mussellam, pianist Graham Vink and organist Marvin Dickau.

Okanagan audiences know Mussellam from her appearances with the Okanagan Symphony. Dickau is minister of music at First United Church, home for one of the few pipe organs in Kelowna, as well as executive director of the Kelowna Kiwanis Festival.

Vink, as well as the choir accompanist at First United, is a busy pianist, accompanist and piano teacher in Kelowna.

Ralph Milton, a well-known United Church speaker and writer, will be MC. The concert is followed by hot apple cider and shortbread.

The concert will include each ensemble on its own performing a variety of seasonal music, as well as a joint performance of selections of Michael Praetorius’ Dances from the Terpsichore. These Renaissance dances, dating from the early 17th century, were arranged for handbells and recorders by Susan T. Nelson.

The Alleluia Ringers, an active part of the music program at First United Church for six years, are directed by Nikki Attwell. Over the past 18 months, they have expanded their set of handbells to four, and then to five octaves, making them one of only a handful of five-octave choirs in British Columbia.

Sue MacDonald is now in her second year as director of The Merrie Pipers, and is the third director in its eleven-year history. The ensemble formed in 2001 as a small music class within Kelowna’s Society for Learning in Retirement.

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