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Handbell Choir

Pictured are Presbyterian Church of Vinton Adult Handbell Choir members Jodi Bierschenk of Van Horne; Eunice Pingenot of Vinton (substitute ringer); Becky Fisher of Mt. Auburn; Kathy Blank of Vinton; Marilyn Yedlik of Vinton; Judy Thurman of Vinton; Carla Hillman of Garrison; Hannah McGowan of Vinton; Director Allison Hicks of Garrison. Gwen Eells of Vinton; Bryce Cronbaugh of Blairstown; Kristine Shultis of Shellsburg. Members of the ensemble practice Mondays, September to May, beginning at 6:00 p.m. for one-hour sessions in an upper room at the Presbyterian Church of Vinton. According to Hicks, they perform eight to nine times each year during services, concerts and community activities.

VINTON – The local Adult Handbell Choir is ringing in the holidays. On Dec. 15, the handbell ensemble, under the direction of Allison Hicks, will perform Christmas music during a 10:30 a.m. service at the Presbyterian Church of Vinton, 608 1st Ave. The 14 year old variety of bells currently being used are made of bronze by the Malmark Bellcraftsmen company in Plumsteadville, Penn. “The lower the note, the larger the bell,” Hicks said. The handbell choir uses sheet music and each person is responsible for two to four notes a piece. “Together they create a musical experience,” Hicks said. According to Hicks, a piece played well is what is most rewarding and to be successful at handbell playing, it takes patience, a desire to learn and the ability to have fun. Not all members knew how to play handbells when they signed up and there is a variety of musical backgrounds represented in the group; from music teachers, to ones who played an instrument in past, to those who could not originally read music. Moreover, the bell choir members come from varied backgrounds and vocations including teaching, nursing, engineering, farming, bus driving, mechanics, sales, etc. Hicks said, “These people from different walks of life, come together with a common goal and a love of music, to create beautiful music and fellowship.” For Hicks, this musical art form is a family legacy, as her mother was the original director of the 29 year-old program. Hicks said she assumed the director position upon her mother’s passing and the program’s success is also due to a generous donation from Howard and Alma Johnson.