A Disney World Christmas
SALEM — A little bit of magic (and pixie dust) was in the air for The Quaker Bells of First Friends Church last week as they traveled to Walt Disney World in Florida to be part of The Great Christmas Ring 2021. The concert was performed on stage at Epcot’s World Showcase Pavilion on Sunday, Nov. 28. Under the direction of Kevin McChesney, the massed handbell ensemble rang in the holidays as part of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration.
One hundred and twenty-nine bell ringers from across the United States joined enthusiastically on Saturday at the lovely Coronado Springs Resort to rehearse sixteen holiday favorites. Meanwhile, 30 youth from all over the States who were part of the 2021 National Honors Handbell Ensemble rehearsed Friday evening and Saturday, adding to their repertoire a medley of Disney favorites: “Circle of Life,” “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” “Under the Sea,” and “When You Wish Upon a Star;” along with additional holiday favorites: “Angels from the Realms of Glory,” “Where Are You Christmas?,” “Sleigh Ride,” and “Christmas in Sarajevo.”
Rehearsal concluded with a devotional from Kevin on the word “enthusiasm.” The word comes from two Greek words: “en” meaning “within,” and “theos” meaning “God.” So, the word “enthusiasm” literally means “God within!” (Something to definitely keep in mind as we ring those heavenly bells no matter where we are.)
After brunch and dress rehearsal on Sunday, and all ringers combined, the anticipated time had come. With the concert about to begin, Conductor Mickey made his appearance on stage motioning to the ringers to strike a chord, another chord, stage left, stage right, middle section, all together now! The delighted squeals of children was a start on the right note! And, music to every bell ringer’s ear!
The concert selection began with “The Great Christmas Ring” (“A Medley of Carol of the Bells” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”), followed by “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Deck the Halls,” “The First Noel,” “I Saw Three Ships/Bring a Torch Isabella,” “Away in a Manger,” “Go, Tell It on the Mountain,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “The Holly and The Ivy,” “Silent Night,” “Jingle Bells,” “Jolly Old St. Nicholas,” “Here We Come A Caroling (Wassail Song),” and “Joy to the World;” concluding with an invigorating two-part rendition of “Now the Green Blade Riseth” (“Sing We Now of Christmas”) followed by an encore of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
The event was organized by Global Bronze Productions, an organization exclusively committed to elevating handbell artistry to new heights and providing handbell musicians with extraordinary experiences. Speaking of which, it was mentioned that future event sites may very well include a trip back to Carnegie Hall in NYC and also to Disneyland Paris!