A while back I found a video posted in one of the handbell forums on the internet of a brand new “Concerto for Piano with Choir and Handbells”. The piece begins with thick, Gothic chords that reminded me of the scene in Beauty and the Beast when the castle doors sweep open to reveal the vast, aging castle with one flower in the middle. Darius Lim, the composer of the piece who also plays the piano, immediately drew me in with his technical skills on the keyboard. Bells don’t come in until the 5 minute mark, but I honestly did not notice the first time I listened because I was too absorbed in the music. When the bells do come in, the part is simple yet effective, accenting the themes already being played in the other instruments. Ministry of Bellz performs the bell part. The second half of the piece sounds like a John Williams epic. Between the beautiful voices of the VOCO Singapore Ladies Choir, driving melody lines in the piano and strings, and shimmering bells, I can hear this piece backing some epic movie scene where the camera flies over our main characters to reveal the expanse of a deep valley. (Or maybe because Oscar season just ended everything sounds like a movie soundtrack to me).
Here is the Concerto in it’s entirety:
After doing some research, I discovered that Lim is primarily a choral composer and this Concerto was his first foray into writing for handbells. Since I am always curious what draws new composers into writing for handbells, I reached out to Lim for comment. Here is what he said about his inspiration for the piece.
Lim’s comments struck me particularly hard because today is my 29th birthday. As I enter my last year in my 20s, what can I do to push myself farther and try something new? How can I make my mark on the world before I enter my third decade? I already have my first international bell trips planned for this year, I’m continuing my work on the Handbell Musicians of America board, and there are secret plans with friends to dive deeper into the business end of handbells. What actually will happen, however, is anyone’s guess.
Hopefully, like Lim, I’ll discover my way of leaving my 20s with flair.
And you can be sure I’ll write about it here.