Ringing in Tradition

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

We believe that the development and growth of young musicians are 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 a seven-octave set of Malmark bells and a five-octave set of Malmark chimes, plus an additional three-and-a-half octave set of Malmark bells that can be used in double-choir applications and to handle overflow in membership of the groups.

Our Handbell Program

List of 4 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 wide 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. Successful completion of a year in Handbell Ensemble makes a student eligible for membership in the Intermediate Ringers, should he or she choose to continue ringing.
  • The Intermediate Ringers (Coppers)

    The Intermediate Ringers consist of students who have successfully completed the first-level handbell experience at the Upper School (or who have permission from the instructor to join) and are seeking the opportunity to further develop their musicianship and ringing skills. Students may 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 for the more rigorous experience of performing with the Moravian Academy Ringers. 

    Successful completion of a year in Handbell Ensemble makes a student eligible for membership in the Intermediate Ringers, should he or she choose to continue ringing.
  • 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 and the Intermediate Ringers 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 churches and other venues in the Lehigh Valley and beyond.

Merle Smith Campus

Downtown Campus