Reno handbell choir will ring your chimes

Members of Tintabulations, a high-energy, Reno-based handbell ensemble, perform in a free concert at 6 p.m. Sunday, July 1, at Peace Lutheran Church, in Grass Valley.

Members of Tintabulations, a high-energy, Reno-based handbell ensemble, perform in a free concert at 6 p.m. Sunday, July 1, at Peace Lutheran Church, in Grass Valley.

Tintabulations promises a high-energy, spine-tingling experience during this free concert in our Fellowship Center. This world-class hand-bell ensemble features a broad variety of music, including classical, rock and pop, using instruments originally created for church bell-ringers.

A wine-and-cheese reception follows. Any donations received will benefit Tintabulations. This is a production of Arts @ PEACE, which hosts high-quality cultural programs in western Nevada County. (We Lutherans believe music is a gift from God and celebrate music in our lives and in our worship!)

That soul-soaring reverberation that flows through your body after a beautiful bell rings – that’s what the name “Tintabulations” refers to, and that’s what you’ll feel in this unique presentation.

Lake Wildwood resident and PEACE member Rebecca DeCourten is among many Tintabulations members who commute to Reno each week for practice.

“I love the variety of this concert,” DeCourten said. Listeners will experience “the variations in sound that make handbells sound like bells in a campanile. It’s like an organ of rich tones, and even like percussion instruments.”

The ensemble’s surprising repertoire includes arrangements of Galt MacDermot’s “Aquarius”/”Let the Sunshine In,” George Handel’s “Passacaglia,” The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby” and the 19th-century Shaker tune “A Simple Dance.”

Ringers put on a show beyond the music they create, DeCourten promised. “Watch for the different techniques used by the handbell ringers and how much each of the ringers enjoys performing,” she said. “It is a blast to play with musicians who thoroughly enjoy what they do!”

DeCourten calls her fellow bellringers “the most amazing, talented musicians!” Playing these instruments poses special challenges, she added. “The group needs to be tightly bonded so that the music sounds effortless, even though multiple musicians are part of a single musical strand. That bond between musicians is a special part of handbell ringing.”

Tintabulations has Latin, English roots

This concert marks Tintabulations’ 21st year, and members call this jaunt across two states their “Coming of Age Tour.” Renown has spread, and the ensemble recently was invited to perform in Denmark, organizers said.

Ensemble members range from university students to retirees. All of them are passionate about hand-bells, some traveling from as far as Chester, Bishop and Carnelian Bay for weekly rehearsals.

The group’s name derives from the rarely heard noun “tintinnabulation.” It refers to the lingering sound of a bell that has rung and stems from the Latin noun “tintinnabulum,” or bell, according to Merriam-Webster. The related Latin verb “tinnire” means “to ring” and is related to the more common word “tinnitus,” the medical word for ringing in the ear, according to writer and Oxford English Dictionary contributor Michael Quinion. Edgar Allen Poe popularized the word “tintinnabulation” in his poem, “The Bells,” published in 1849, according to Merriam-Webster.

Handbells themselves evolved in late 17th-century England as a tool for church-bell ringers to practice outside of the bell tower.

PEACE Lutheran Church has its own handbell choirthe Bells of PEACE. You can hear them perform one Sunday each month during worship services September through June.

Learn more about PEACE Lutheran Church