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Handbell Choirs in Beeville
Beeville, Texas

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            The Beeville Vineyard invites the community to an evening of “Chimes and Chocolates” Thursday, February 24 at 7:00 pm at the First United Methodist Church.

            Local musical history will be made with a concert presented by Beeville’s four church handbell choirs: First Baptist, First Presbyterian, First United Methodist and St. Philip’s Episcopal.  Each choir will ring two selections, then the four groups will join forces to ring the final hymns en masse.

            A nursery will be provided for young children of concert goers.

            The women of FUMC and  St. Philip’s, the handbell choir members and  Vineyard Board members will provide chocolate desserts following the concert for all attending.

            A goodwill offering will be collected to benefit the Vineyard, which is in need of additional funds to help those in need in this community.

            Louanne LeBourveau, director of the Presbyterian choir, will direct the combined groups.  Doug Burton is the director of the Baptist choir; Ann Gartner, the Methodist choir; and Louise Mayberry, the St. Philip’s choir.

The First Baptist Church Handbell Choir is a vital part of the church’s rich musical tradition.  Given in the 1970’s by the Austin E. Brown family, the bells continue to be used for worship.  The use of bells in the church was a dream of Hannah Fair Sallee, Maime Sallee Bryan, and Dr. Eugene Sallee, who were missionaries to China from 1903-1945.  Thanks to the generous gift of their family, their dream  lives on.  Today the bell choir is called “Praising Hands,” reflecting the desire of the group to use their talents to praise God.

            St. Philip’s choir was organized in 1985, when Pam Sumners, who had played in a choir in New York City,  proposed the idea to the congregation.   The Rev. Charles Sumners, rector of the parish at that time, borrowed  a two-octave set from St. Francis Episcopal Church in Victoria for potential choir members to try out.  They decided to purchase their own three-octave set with donations from church members in memory of loved ones.

            The choir plays for  church services and occasional community events.  Several members  attended a clinic at the Manchaca Methodist Church several years ago which concluded with a mass ring of many bell choirs and  an English Handbell conference in Scottsdale, Arizona  a few summers ago.

Louanne LeBourveau directing a rehearsal of the First Presbyterian            The First Presbyterian Handbell Choir began in 1986 as a three- octave adult group, and a youth choir was active for a few years.  Currently, the “Handbell Family” practices weekly throughout the school year and performs for church worship services and an occasional community program. 

            In 1996 the group held its first Christmas concert, an event that has become an annual celebration.  The choir attended its first American Guild of English Handbell Ringers conference in 2000, at which they had the opportunity to attend bell ringing workshops and to  play in a group of many choirs directed by a nationally recognized clinician.  It was at that conference that the group members heard hand chimes for the first time and decided to purchase them for their choir.  Now they play music written for both bells and chimes.

            The First United Methodist Handbell Choir is the newest one in Beeville, having been organized in the fall of 1999 with Everett McAulay as the first director.  Their three octaves were purchased with memorials given by church members in memory of loved ones.  They, too, play for church services from time to time.

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Updated Thursday, December 21, 2006 20:57

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