Nicole Thorp and Devin Riley, members of the Oliver Handbell RIngers, were selected to join the Okanagan Handbell Chorus in concert with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra. (Submitted photo)

Nicole Thorp and Devin Riley, members of the Oliver Handbell RIngers, were selected to join the Okanagan Handbell Chorus in concert with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra. (Submitted photo)

Ringing in the season

Two members of Oliver handbell group selected to join the Okanagan Handbell Chorus

Two members of the Oliver Handbell Ringers are expanding their range, so to speak.

Nicole Thorp and Devin Riley have both been selected to join the Okanagan Handbell Chorus, an elite group of ringers cherry-picked for their talents, to accompany the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra.

Thorp’s ringing career began in 2007, as a charter member of Oliver Ringers, but her musical career began when she started piano lessons at eight years old and carried on to earn two separate music degrees in college.

She said it’s a very different experience playing with a handbell choir compared to an instrument like a piano.

“In an ensemble situation you may be responsible for 2 or 10 tones in the entire piece,” said Thorp. “You rely on body cues from other players and develop a real awareness of the entire group.”

Riley joined the Oliver Handbell ringers a little later, in 2010, a pivotal time in his life. Not only was this his graduation year from high school, it was also and when his piano lessons, which he stared in kindergarten, reached a high, completing his Grade 8 certificate in the Royal Conservatory of Music program.

“I find that handbells are deceptively complex. I might only have four bells in a piece, but once you add five or six different ringing techniques or hand chimes, it gets complicated in a hurry,” said Riley. “I don’t think I’ve ever been bored playing bells. Then there is the added challenge of making it appear easily done to the audience.”

The valley-wide Okanagan Handbell Chorus was organized in 2011 by ringer and director Nikki Atwell of Westbank and directed by Susan Carscadden-Mifsud, an Ontario ringer and director.

The valley-wide Okanagan Handbell Chorus came about in 2011 when Rosemary Thompson, music director of the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, approached Westbank ringer and director Nikki Atwell to draw together musicians to produce high-quality handbell pieces to be incorporated with the symphony’s Christmas production.

Unlike regular choirs, Okanagan Handbell Chorus ringers study and rehearse their music individually. There are no weekly practices to slowly brush up on the material, and the group only gets together to ring as an ensemble two days prior to the performance. The week of performance can be gruelling both mentally and physically.

The Okanagan Handbell Chorus is performing with the Okanagan Symphony as part of their Christmas special concert, Ringing in the Season, with a matinee performance in Penticton at 2 p.m. on Dec. 23, and evening performances in Vernon on Dec. 21 and Kelowna on Dec. 22.

The Oliver Handbell Ringers are preparing for their own Christmas program One Winter’s Night, with performances in Oliver’s Christ the King Catholic Church on Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 17 at 3 p.m.

Just Posted

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce will host the Valley Wide Business Expo May 4 at Predator Ridge Resort. (photo submitted)
Golf raffle helps Okanagan families score homes

Habitat for Humanity Okanagan swinging into action this summer with a new raffle

The weekly COVID-19 map for June 6 to 12. (BC CDC)
South Okanagan sees only 5 new cases in last week

The Similkameen Valley went a second week without any new cases

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Earls On Top at 211 Bernard Avenue in Kelowna. (Google Maps photo)
Downtown Kelowna’s Earls ordered closed after COVID-19 transmission

Earls on Top on Bernard Avenue will be closed from June 18 to June 27

A motorycle crash has been reported on Westside Road. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Westside Road reopened following motorcycle crash near Vernon

AIM Roads advises drivers to expect delays due to congestion

(File photo)
Penticton not holding Canada Day activities out of respect for Indigenous people

Cities across B.C. are cancelling the holiday after an increased spotlight on Canada’s dark history

Dereck Donald Sears. (Contributed/Crimestoppers)
Murder charge laid in relation to suspicious Kelowna death

Dereck Donald Sears is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Darren Middleton

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Most Read