The Wesley Bell Ringers in 2016
It was the summer of 2013, and as my brother and I drove across the country for the first ever Virtuoso event we made a stop in Salt Lake City to visit a high school group of ringers we kept hearing about. Due to a time change at the Utah boarder, we walked in mid rehearsal and were immediately met with a wall of sound. In the front of the church, among a sea of fancy blue tables and shinny bells, was a crowd of high school ringers making wonder music together. It was quite a sight to see.
The Wesley Bell Ringers leave for a cross country tour this weekend, taking them from Utah to Washington DC while playing 13 concerts over 15 days. Founded in 1963, the group has grown to an impressive size with both ringers and equipment. According to their director Katie Lay, “over 470 high school aged students have played in the choir which has expanded to 10 octaves of bells, and two octaves each of hand chimes, cup bells, silver melody bells, a carillon, various percussion instruments, and a boom-a-gong.”
“I’m particularly excited for the concert on the 18th” said their director. “We’re performing in the Memorial Theater of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. It’s an incredible building, and the theater is lovely”.
Funding for a tour of that scale is always a massive undertaking. Lay described how the group raises money:
The Wesley Bell Ringers continue to raise all the money for tour themselves through various fundraisers. We hold a massive rummage sale twice a year, and are able to raise, on average, $8000 in a weekend. The amount of work it requires is staggering, yet year after year the ringers are willing to put in the work. We also host a Valentine’s Day Dinner and Dance which features a silent auction, and serve several banquets each year to various church groups.
Here’s there full tour schedule. If you can make one of their concerts, please do! Their shows are well worth the time, and it’s great to support these long running to teach bell ringing to future generations.
June 11 First Baptist Church
7:30 PM 701 S. 6th Street, Lanett, AL 36863
June 12 Grace United Methodist Church
7:00 PM 1601 Sam Rittenberg Blvd, Charleston, SC
June 13 First Baptist Church
7:00 PM 810 Bridges Street, Morehead City, NC 28557
June 14 Highland United Methodist Church
7:30 PM 1901 Ridge Road, Raleigh, NC
June 15 Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church
7:30 PM 1100 Mt. Pisgah Drive, Midlothian, VA
June 18 George Washington Masonic Memorial
7:30 PM 101 Callahan Dr., Alexandria, VA 22301
June 19 Calvary United Methodist Church
7:30 PM 971 Beech Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA
June 20 Shiloh United Methodist Church
7:30 PM 5261 Foley Road, Cincinnati, OH
June 21 Bonhomme Presbyterian Church
7:30 14820 Conway Road, Chesterfield, MO
June 22 First United Methodist Church
7:30 PM 946 Vermont St., Lawrence, KS
June 24 First United Methodist Church
7:30 PM 533 Grant Avenue, Loveland, CO
June 25 Lander United Methodist Church
7:30 PM 262 N 3rd St, Lander, WY
June 26 Christ United Methodist Church
7:30 PM 2375 East 3300 South, Salt Lake City, UT
More information about all their tour stops, and their tour blog, can be found on their website: http://www.wesleybells.org/
This summer there have been all sorts of amazing college and high school groups touring the country. Next year we’ll try and compile a list of all them so our readers can support these groups as they travel all across the nation. If you make it to one their concerts, let us know in the comments below!