A chance mention on Facebook about Brighouse Arts Festival and the fact that Clifton Handbell Ringers would be performing in a concert led to us travelling over the M62 on a rainy Wednesday evening in late September.
The journey was well worth it as the concert, which also featured a local choir, the Fixby Songbirds, was excellent.
Clifton rang a very good selection of tunes to a very high standard and David Sunderland’s introduction and commentary about the bells and the history of the team was very informative for the nonringers in the audience, some of whom had never heard handbell ringing before.
The eight ringers rang a long-set of 140 bells in the traditional Yorkshire off-table style with the expertise and confidence that comes from having rung together as an established team for many years – four of the team have been ringing together since the mid-1970s. Conducting was done by David from the basstable, which meant that there was no conductor blocking the audience’s view of the team. In addition, music was on low-rise stands, almost flat on the table, so there was not the barrier of risers and stands between the ringers and the audience.
The opening piece was an Irish jig which increased in speed with each repetition and was a good demonstration of handling tempo changes. This was followed by a lovely gentle Italian piece called ‘I Giorni’ and the traditional ‘English Country Gardens’. The Andrew Lloyd-Webber piece ‘Close Every Door’ was next and the first half concluded with a complete contrast in ‘Pineapple Rag’.
The second half began with another Irish tune, ‘Planxty Power’, followed by ‘Duelling Banjos’ which was a delight to watch as well as listen to and involved some tricky footwork as well as skilful bell-handling skills as some of the ringers change places during the piece. Two gentler pieces followed, Tchaikovsky’s ‘Sleeping Beauty Waltz’ and ‘Memory’. The concert finished with a lovely rendition of ‘Teddy Bears’ Picnic’.
All in all, an excellent evening’s entertainment – a good varied programme of tunes with audience appeal, well rung and well presented. Thank you Clifton!
Christine and Roger Lazenby
Treble Eight Ringers