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Twin Cities Bronze
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2014-2015: That's a Wrap!

What an exciting year of handbell ringing!

It’s a bit cliché to say that it’s been an exciting year for Twin Cities Bronze, but it would be untruthful to label 2014-2015 as dull. Anything but!

The year started off in a flurry with auditions in August. We welcomed new ringer Becky Stever behind the table. She’s a tiny woman with a big personality who immediately took to the group during our fall retreat.

“The retreat in the fall was lots of fun,” she says. “It allowed me to learn more about the group and better connect via games. We created a new mission statement for Twin Cities Bronze Mad Libs style. The end result was not as professional as the real mission statement, but it defined the character of group and the fun I was going to have throughout the year.”

Shortly after the retreat, Becky quickly experienced her first – and second – performances when we did a two-concert Bridging the Seasons weekend in November.

One exciting event that happened this year was Minnesota Orchestra was back from the lockout, and that meant Doc Severinsen was on stage again for his Jingle Bell Doc concert. For the first time in two years, Twin Cities Bronze was performing at Orchestra Hall. The new hall – reconstructed in 2014 – is amazing, and we enjoyed spending our time immersed with the rest of the musicians and ending the show with a jazzed up version of the Hallelujah Chorus. It brought down the house with the strike of an F#8, and you could hear it over all the other instruments and vocals.

Right after Christmas and our annual Twelfth Night Concert in January we welcomed Debbi Rice to conduct our third Mid-Winter Workshop. She brought fun, innovative and out-of-the-box ideas not just for Twin Cities Bronze, but for everyone who attended the workshop.

Twin Cities Bronze also was involved in something a bit out of this world. At least that’s what the concert was called. We joined another professional ensemble, Bells of the Lakes, at the Ted Mann Concert Hall at the University of Minnesota Campus in March for a concert featuring two bell groups, the Copper Street Brass Quintet, as well as a couple of percussionists. The focus of the concert was an arrangement of Holst’s “The Planets,” with some solo numbers performed by each of the groups in between. Our Artistic and Music Director, Amy Maakestad, created an arrangement for us of “Cantina Band,” from the movie, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, which was a big hit with the audience.

Other exciting news is that we applied for and received a $5,000 grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC) for our Mobile Classroom project. This is the first year we’ve been able to apply for the funding - a fact that has ringer Chris Johnson very excited.

“So many doors are now open to us for teaching other handbell musicians different techniques using this versatile instrument,” he says. “We can now take Twin Cities Bronze into more of an educational and service direction.”

Thanks to the grant, we’ll be bringing our handbell knowledge this fall to church groups around the Twin Cities metro, teaching bell techniques, safe ringing styles and just about anything else handbell-related. If you’re interested in learning more, visit our Mobile Classroom page on the site: www.twincitiesbronze.org/tcbronze/twin-cities-bronze/mobile-classroom.

We are also in the midst of our bass chime campaign, which has all the ringers of the group very excited. Our goal is to purchase the lower octave of bass chimes – with an approximate $7,000 price tag – so we can really enhance the music we play with those deep undertones. We're halfway to goal, and we can already hear those notes vibrating!

So as you can see, dull isn’t a word in the vocabulary for Twin Cities Bronze. As ringer Kate Graber put it, "It was a great year. Lots of fun music, lots of great concerts and lots of good times with fellow ringers."

Enough said!