Capital Ringers

The Capital Ringers, a community English handbell ensemble based in Lewes, Delaware, bring its multi-octave presentation, “Ring Christmas Bells” to the Community Church in Ocean Pines on Saturday starting at 7 p.m.

(Dec. 5, 2019) Now in its 15th season, the Capital Ringers, an English handbell ensemble based in Lewes, Delaware, will bring octaves of heavenly tones to the Community Church in Ocean Pines for a performance on Dec. 7 starting at 7 p.m.

Lewes, Delaware resident David Mangler, who joined the ensemble roughly a year ago, began playing music at age 5, eventually mastering a variety of brass and woodwind instruments during high school.

“Our claim to fame is that we own the largest set of handbells and handchimes on the peninsula,” he said.

The nonprofit ensemble was formed in 2004 by Linda Simms as a means to expose the public to the variety of English handbells and handchimes.

“People that aren’t familiar with handchimes think of bells sort of tingling [and] you shake them back and forth,” he said.

Mangler said handbells are made of brass, which allows a wide range of tones to be produced.

“They are tuned with perfect tone for each note,” he said. “The music that we perform is complex.”

This year the Capital Ringers’ winter tour, “Ring Christmas Bells” includes traditional music such as “Winter Wonderland” and modern classics, such as the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Wizard in Winter.”

“Comparatively, handbells in the United States is a relatively new instrument,” he said.

Mangler different playing techniques also give the bells different tonal qualities.

“Bells not only ring but you can use percussion mallets on them and get different sounds out of them,” he said.

In fact, to lay a foundational beat, the Capital Ringers features a percussionist.

“We also have a percussionist who joins us who’s well known is his own right,” he said. “Ken Schleifer, who performs with jazz trio(s) 5th Avenue, And Second Time Around.

Mangler said besides the winter tour schedule, the handbell choir also hits the trail for a series of performances each spring.

“Our upcoming spring concert after the first of the year is going to be all rock music,” he said. “If anybody has ever wanted to hear … things like Bohemian Rhapsody done on handbells, you’re going to have an opportunity.”

Besides delighting audiences, one of the Capital Ringers principal missions is to educate the next generation about the instruments.

“One of our primary goals is to do educational outreach into school systems to expose handbells and handchimes to [school] music departments,” he said. “One of our fundraisers this year is to … purchase sets of hand chimes in order to put those … in the hands of students.”

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