Video of the Week: Spirit Wind by the Philadelphia Handbell Ensemble

Posted By Derek Nance on Mar 16, 2015 | 1 comment


I can not begin to tell you how excited I am to share this video with everyone.  Long time readers of the blog will remember that I spent this last fall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Well I was out there I had the pleasure of ringing with the Philadelphia Handbell Ensemble (PHE), a talented group of ringers who are not afraid to think outside the box.  One of the pieces we played was “Spirit Wind” by John T. Bartsch, Jr.

“Spirit Wind” is a beautiful piece of music that evokes imagery of seasons changing, friends frolicking, and love lost and found.  After one listen I knew this piece would be perfect for a music video.  Brian Seemann, PHE’s Artistic Director, agreed and we set out to make this project happen.  The first person we recruited was Matthew Danihel, a new member to PHE who had some background in videography and film design.  We all agreed that we wanted to make an actual music video with a story line, not just fancy shots of the group playing bells.  It took us a while to decide on what sort of story the video should tell.  The music has a fast-slow-fast pattern which lends itself to a story about a boy finding a girl, losing her, and then finding her again.

Group picture in front of an organ

One of our performances was at the Blue Cross Riverrink Winterfest, which we figured would be a perfect backdrop for a video.  The staff at the Riverrink thought the idea was interesting and humored us when we were out on the ice filming.  We spent nearly 5 hours on the ice one cold night in December filming the story portion of the video.  Matt was incredible and showed up with a shot list of everything we needed to make the story work.  My skating skills are mediocre at best due to my growing up in the desert, but I managed not to drop the camera while we were on the ice.  I had no problem being behind the camera all night because acting is definitely not one of my strong skills.  Matt took one of the lead rolls and recruited his friend Nicole Sapello to play along side him.  At the end of the night we were all exhausted and freezing, but we still had not shot all the footage needed.  Matt and Nicole were incredible and went back to the rink again a couple weeks later to finish all the shots.

Shooting a music video in a park! Because why not?!

A photo posted by Derek Nance (@nanced52) on Nov 22, 2014 at 12:58pm PST

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For the performance part of the video we needed to find a location to showcase the ensemble.  I had originally wanted to put the group in the middle of the ice rink with all the skaters surrounding them, but that turned out to be a logistical nightmare.  Instead we found a park close to our rehearsal venue that had a field large enough for us with a good back drop.  During an all day rehearsal one Saturday we packed up everything and moved over to the park.  The afternoon started with beautiful weather, but a storm started blowing in as we filmed.  What you can’t see in the video is our music blowing all over the place and the large, ominous clouds on the horizon.  It took about 10 takes to get all the footage we needed, then we retreated back to the church to warm up.  All the audio was recorded later at a rehearsal.

Matthew then took all that footage and crafted this excellent video.  I think you will agree that the final product was well worth all the time we put into it.

For a long time I have wanted to make a music video with a story, but I never had the tools to make that happen.  This fall I found a great group of ringers who were willing to go along with this crazy idea, with a member named Matt who had the skills and ambition to make it all happen.  I can’t thank Matt enough for all the time and hard work he put into this video to make this dream a reality.

I keep hitting replay on the video, still in disbelief that we actually pulled this off.

What piece do you think would make a great music video?