Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Handbell soloist comes to Lincoln

The evening of August 29, about 60 members of the Lincoln community took the time to attend a handbell solo recital given at First Plymouth Congregational Church. The handbell soloist and her accompanist came to Lincoln from Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. Sue Garton performs with English handbells, three full octaves span the table, and some pieces require duplicats that she keeps on hand. Garton has performed through the U.S. as well as Kiev, Ukraine, and Presov, Slovakia--and her performance here in Lincoln was a delight.
Garton began by performing "Are you Dressed for the Wedding?" Afterwards, she explained that it is about the heavenly wedding banquet when Christ comes. As she rearranged her bells following the piece, she told the audience that they are arranged like the keys of a piano, but with one advantage, she can move them wherever she wants. Garton and her accompanist, Marilyn Hines, played three more hymns or spirituals including "Lord of the Dance," "Finlandia," and "Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel."
Although the evening also included some Broadway tunes, the most musical, and beautiful arrangement for the handbells was Claude Debussy's "Clair de Lune." The piece is originally written for solo piano, but the arrangement did a wonderful job of dividing the music up between piano and handbells. The video to the side of this article is a recording of Garton playing "Clair de Lune." As the sound from the final notes rang out and died away, there was a pause as the audience let the music sink in before breaking into applause.

When asked how she came to take up the handbells, Garton explained that she joined a church handbell choir in the '70s and by the time she retired in 1992, she had her own handbells. "I quit cooking and cleaning my house, and now I play with my bells all day," she said, smilingly.

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