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Bells on Temple Square Christmas tradition continues under new conductor

Published: Saturday, Nov. 12 2011 4:00 p.m. MST

Willmore said she's aware the tambre of the handbells is limited. She planned some pieces to include a flute, marimbas and the organ. Some of the instrumentalists will perform solo pieces in between the handbell numbers as well. Willmore hopes to keep things interesting for everyone and the ringers believe her program will do so.

"Because of the variety of music we've got this time, it will appeal to a lot of different people," Wilcox said. "It's not just one style of music."

The bell ringers believe the overall feeling this concert will produce extends beyond its exciting variety and appeal.

"At least for me, this concert in particular, the choice of music is just joyful and peaceful," Wright said. Wilcox agrees "there's something about" the musical selection for this concert.

In talking about the upcoming concert, the bell choir's admiration and respect for their conductor is evident. The feeling is reciprocated.

"They are the most devoted group of people," Willmore said, citing the required 90 percent rehearsal and performance attendance and adding, "They give up so much so that they can be to their rehearsals all the time."

The choir rehearses every Wednesday. Each concert requires about five months of rehearsal, and they add extra Saturday rehearsals for a few weeks prior to concerts. Coming from varied, busy backgrounds, the choir members are dedicated. Wilcox, for example, commutes from Logan to Salt Lake City for every rehearsal.

"The ringers are just awesome," Smith said. He talked about their faithful practicing and impressive sight-reading skills. "They're dedicated. They're incredible musicians."

But the best part, Willmore says, is the spirit the bell ringers bring to rehearsals and performances.

"When you see them ring, they just radiate the spirit of the message of the song in their faces," she said. "What they're radiating is what they are. ... Every rehearsal is very joyful."

The feeling conveyed by the ringers and the whole visual aspect of the concert are the things that really set this concert apart and make it a worthwhile Christmas tradition, Willmore said.

"It's so visually interesting to watch the bells," she said. "We aren't like music that you just listen to. The interesting thing about bells is to watch them." Wright agreed.

"It's a different sort of musical experience," she said.

If you go …

What: The Bells on Temple Square, "Ringing in the Seasons"

Where: Salt Lake Tabernacle, Temple Square

When: Nov. 18, 7:30 p.m.

Note: While the concert is currently sold out, seats will only be held for ticketholders until 15 minutes before the performance. At that time, seats will be available for people in the standby line. The line will form at the flag pole on Temple Square prior to the event. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.mormontabernaclechoir.org/ or visit the events page on lds.org.

Email: hbowler@desnews.com

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