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Posted: February 3, 2009 8:18 p.m.

Bells will be ringing

Submitted photo/

Celestial sounds: (Left to right) Alice Walker, organist of First Presbyterian Church of Covington, Alan Bunn, director of music and handbell choir at First Presbyterian Church of Covington and John Link, handbell clinician for the handbell festiv...

The dulcet tones of handbells will ring out in Covington Saturday afternoon as the First Presbyterian Church hosts a day-long handbell festival and concert featuring three handbell choirs playing simultaneously.

The choirs, which are from First Presbyterian Church of Covington, First United Methodist Church of Covington and First Baptist Church of Conyers, will perform mass handbell anthems led by John Link, director of Music at Conyers First Baptist Church and a widely acclaimed handbell clinician.

y, the choirs will participate in clinics with Link, cumulating in a 30 minute concert at 3 p.m. that is free and open to the public.

The handbells to be used in the concert span five octaves. The largest of the bells weighs more than seven pounds, and the highest is pitched just above the top note on a piano. Bells are cast of bronze, an alloy susceptible to tarnish and fingerprints, which is why ringers wear gloves.

According to organizer Alice Walker, handbells were developed centuries ago in Europe as practice devices for ringers of church tower bells, who found that townspeople did not appreciate their rehearsals. Musical ringing was first promoted in the United States by showman P. T. Barnum, and after a flurry of notoriety in vaudeville days, handbell ringing all but died out. She credited the handbell’s resurgence in national popularity to a handbell performance on the TV show of Garry Moore.

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