SIOUX CITY – Doorbells use very unique jargon.
For example, a wet brush occurs when a ringing doorbell is brushed down, resulting in a sudden reduction in volume. Vibrato is achieved by moving a bell from side to side to produce a flickering sound.
Conductor Don Nelson put to the test a hall full of bell musicians with a catchy rendition of “Greensleeves” during a Wednesday night rehearsal at Grace United Methodist Church.
A seasoned music teacher, Nelson was preparing the 15-member group for their 40th Twelfth Night Handbell Festival concert, which takes place Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at Morningside University’s Eppley Auditorium, 3625 Garretson Ave.
“This is the 40th time we’ve had a Twelfth Night concert,” Nelson explained, “but we actually started it 41 years ago.”
“Yes, concerns about COVID-19 ultimately broke our streak,” his wife Marta Nelson noted. “However, this year promises to be special.”
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Specifically, the concert will allow the musicians of Twelfth Night Handbell to properly honor Eleanor Tasker, 94, festival founder, longtime director and tireless promoter who had stepped down.
Due to COVID restrictions, Tasker’s tenure was celebrated last year over a lunch at Kahill’s in South Sioux City.
This year, Tasker will attend the concert as a special guest. Additionally, “Bright and Glorious Is the Sky” – a new song that was commissioned in honor of Tasker’s many decades as the head of Twelfth Night – will be performed live under the direction of its composer Cathy Moklebust, based in South Dakota. .
“We are very happy that Cathy is coming from Brookings, SD to attend our festival,” said Nelson. “It’s all exciting.”
Especially since the choirs of bells are less frequent.
“A lot of churches had bell choirs,” said Marta Nelson. “Now they prefer a more modern sound to their services.”
To some extent, this is due to the cost factor. Handbells tend to be very expensive to purchase.
Another consideration is the fact that hand bells are considered a difficult instrument to master.
“Well that may or may not be true,” said Marta Nelson. “I am a pianist and when I see sheet music I play every note.”
“When a bell ringer sees a score, he only has to play selected notes,” she continued. “It is difficult for some musicians to get into the bath. Others get started quite easily.
While the Twelfth Night concert will include a celebration of Tasker’s illustrious career, Nelson hopes he will introduce a younger generation to handbells as well.
Or at the very least, it will extend the holiday season a bit more.
“The twelfth night of Christmas, which marked the coming of Epiphany, should have been on January 6 (Thursday),” Nelson said. “Our Sunday concert will be a bit late, but I don’t think anyone will enjoy Christmas a bit more.”