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Reflections, Remembrance

Reflections on Valse Les Adieux (Remembrance) by Karen Lakey Buckwalter

By Deb Garvey

Remembrance has returned to my life. I first played Valse Les Adieux, (subtitled Remembrance), by Karen Lakey Buckwalter in the late 1990s. Though it was quite a stretch beyond my ringing ability at the time, I fell in love with its magical twirling melodies. It was challenging, with many tempo and bell changes. Our church group worked for months on it. At last we were reasonably ready. We played it at a communion service as people came up and shared bread and cup, in remembrance. Surrounded by sound and love, I remember the sacredness of the moment 15 years later.

I have many fond "remembrances" of handbells in action: Twin Cities Bronze rocking to Viva La Vida and Wizards in Winter; scores of choirs creating a wall of sound on Great Gate of Kiev at an advanced ringing Anthornis event; directing the lively mixed meter Celtic Praise with my church group and talented instrumentalists; tears running down my cheeks as Twin Cities Bronze played Grazioso in memory of loved ones.

Valse Les Adieux translates to waltz of departure. I’ve heard one should imagine an old couple sharing a last dance, music box tinkling out the swirling melodies. The piece portrays longing, joy, turmoil, resolution, tenderness, celebration, then fades away. A lot like life. Yet, traces of melodies always linger on.

Now Remembrance is back in our folders. Even though it's a challenging piece, Twin Cities Bronze mastered it quickly, because of high ability levels and practice. Because it's so well written, we feel it as a unit through the accelerandos (get fasters), tenutos (hang on a bit), and ritards (slow down and watch each other).

As the group evolves and changes, we continually acquire new remembrances to hang on to: a long van ride to Colorado, majestic mountains and yaks, dinners with friends, deep levels of friendships, sharing beverages and bread in new communions. We are excited about the new music we will be offering this season. Come to a concert. See, hear, and feel the vibrations that we love. Create some new remembrances for you, families and friends.