Long time readers of the blog will know that I am not a fan of small ensemble ringing or choreography, but Handbells Unlimited has stolen my heart with their stunning performance of “Hernando’s Hideaway”. The Portland based duet team, consisting of Beth Davidson and David Jordan, has been impressing audiences with their handbell performances since 1997. Check out their performance at the 2013 National Seminar in Portland Oregon.
There are three things that struck me about this performance
- They maintained total confidence the entire time. I’ve been watching a lot of dance recently, and the thing I have noticed that separates professional dancers from the amateurs is their ability to hit a point precisely, hold that pose for a split second, and then move on gracefully. These two have got their moves polished and it shows.
- The music was never sacrificed in the name of choreography. We all have seen those performances where the group tries to do too much choreography and flubs their way through the music. I only heard one or two mistakes in the entire performance, and those were based on nerves (I did the same thing the night before on that stage so I can’t judge. Performing for 600 handbell musicians is a startling new experience).
- That mallet pass was stunning. It looks relatively easy, but if you watch closely they put a lot of work into making that work right. Plus, they executed the same move over and over again during the performance without missing it once.
“Hernando’s Hideaway” was written as a cheeky song not to be taken seriously, and Handbells Unlimited did an excellent job balancing musicianship with showmanship. As you can hear at the end of the performance, the room exploded in applause, and I was there cheering for them with everyone else.