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Ring in Spring on Saturday in Lake Grove

Famed conductor Fred Gramann to direct church handbell choirs


FRED GRAMANN

Lovers of handbells, or just music in general, are in for a treat when “A Ring in Spring” is held at Lake Grove Presbyterian Church on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Not only will the concert feature some of the best handbell players in the state, but the concert will be conducted by Fred Gramann, music director at the American Church in Paris.

It is good that lots of handbell talent will be available because they will be performing “Liverpool,” one of Gramann’s most difficult compositions for handbells. The piece has a contrasting motif due to spelling out the word LIVERPOOL in musical notes, with all bell-ringers having active, challenging roles to play. The ringers might even be called on to sing the final verse, for which Gramann has provided lyrics.

“Liverpool” is difficult enough to daunt even bell-ringers like Kat Riley of Lake Oswego, one of Oregon’s best. “’Liverpool’ is a killer,” Riley said. But she has played under the direction of Gramann on some previous occasions, including the Ashland Handbell Festival and the George Fox University Handbell Festival, and she anticipates a joyous evening for both players and audience.

“Fred is dearly loved,” Riley said. “He’s just a blast.”

While “Liverpool” demands strength and dexterity, “Stoccato” is sheer fun. The piece is Gramann’s tribute to Alice Ralston, a well-known church music minister in Midland, TX. The melodic theme is based on a musical representation of the letters in Ralston’s name.

A native of Washington, Gramann moved to Paris to study the organ. He has been the director of the American Church for nearly 40 years. Gramann has had numerous works for handbells published in the USA, and he is co-conductor of the annual European Handbell Festival. He likes to come to Oregon because he has grandchildren here.

The concert will include the combined bell choirs of Lake Grove Presbyterian Church, Bells of the Cascade, and other musicians from this area. Featured guests will be Handbells Unlimited, which is the duo of David Jordan and Beth Davidson. The church is just the right place to hold such a concert since it has one of the finest handbell choirs in the Northwest, under the direction of Leanne Bilstrom.

Saturday night’s concert will be the culmination of a two-day handbell workshop at LGPC, in which handbell ringers will be ringing from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. both days.

Admission to the concert is free.

Lake Grove Presbyterian Church is located at 4040 Sunset Drive.

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