Ringing in Tradition

Following in the strong tradition that begins at our Lower and Middle Schools, we have two handbell choirs at the Upper School—the Moravian Academy Handbell Ensemble and the Moravian Academy Ringers.

We believe that the development and growth of young musicians is fostered in a nurturing environment where live performance is the natural final step after significant coaching and rehearsal. As members of a team, our handbell ringers experience significant musical growth in the course of a year as they learn to prepare, perform, and evaluate their work as individuals and as an ensemble.

The handbell ensembles at the Upper School perform with five octaves of Malmark handbells and five octaves of Malmark handchimes in addition to a variety of percussion instruments.

Our Handbell Program

List of 3 items.

  • A Brief Handbell History

    A handbell ensemble is perhaps the finest example of teamwork in music-making. Each individual is responsible for the notes assigned to them, and no one else can cover for them, making their contribution to the group’s success unique and essential. Ringers are expected to work as a team in order to achieve excellence in both rehearsal and performance settings.

    Music for handbells can come from a variety of sources. A significant portion of the traditional handbell repertoire still published today is made up of music written for another instrumentation, such as an orchestra or the piano, which is then arranged for a handbell choir. Since some handbell sets can span 7 octaves, the full range of the keyboard and orchestra can be duplicated in handbell music.

    A second portion of current repertoire consists of music written for a worship setting, where classic and contemporary liturgical music is set for bells in creative and often engaging arrangements to be used in a variety of services throughout the year.

    Popular music arrangements, jazz, and novelty pieces are an ever-increasing source for bell choirs, giving endless variety of modern sounds to today’s choirs. And finally, original music written solely for the handbell medium is the fastest growing segment of the repertoire in recent years. 
  • Moravian Academy Handbell Ensemble

    The Moravian Academy Handbell Ensemble is a five-octave group that challenges its members to grow as musicians and an ensemble by giving them a solid foundation in ringing technique, music reading skills, and basic musicianship. The group performs several times throughout the school year in weekly Chapel services, as well as at the Christmas Vespers service and Spring Concert.

    Members of this group are not required to have previous handbell ringing experience, though it is recommended that they have some background in music reading through a school program or private study. Students can elect to ring with this ensemble for as long as they wish to. Some may choose to stay with this group, while others may use their time in this ensemble to prepare them for the more rigorous experience of performing with the Moravian Academy Ringers.
  • The Moravian Academy Ringers

    Members of the Moravian Academy Ringers are selected by invitation only. An overwhelming majority of the members in this group have had significant handbell ringing experience in our Lower and Middle School programs, as well as the Moravian Academy Handbell Ensemble at the Upper School. However, exceptions are made for strong musicians with backgrounds in other instruments.

    This group performs frequently at the Upper School, all-school events and Chapels, as well as for the community at-large. They have participated in handbell festivals, and in recent years have been featured as guest artists in concert programs at churches in the Lehigh Valley.

Merle Smith Campus

Downtown Campus