One instrument above all others signals the arrival of Christmas — bells.
In fact, in England’s Middle Ages, people were so devoted to bells they wanted to practice chiming them says John Hooper, musical director of Jubiloso! Bells of Concordia.
But the bells were so loud there were complaints. “So they developed a smaller set of bells to practice with. They caught on in North America in the 1950s as a teaching tool in elementary schools,” Hooper added.
Today Edmonton’s seven-year-old Jubiloso! with its 13 handbell ringers, including St. Albert’s Kathy Zalasky, has captivated audiences with its remarkable tones.
This year, the choir’s holiday concert, Christmas Jazzed Up with Bells happening this Saturday at Concordia College, brings together the old and new in innovative ways.
“This Christmas our style is all jazzy. It’s all syncopated with ace rhythms and cool chords.”
Prepare for a 90-minute fast ride through Felice Navidad, Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride and Linus and Lucy penned by Vince Guaraldi for The Charlie Brown Christmas.
One of the concert’s more compelling pieces is Still, Still, Still with its contemplative feel and rich harmonies. Mixing it up a bit, Hooper has introduced the lesser-known Lo, How a Rose Ere Blooming.
“It’s the prophecy of Isaiah, a shoot from the branch of David. Jesus’ lineage goes back to David and he was the one fulfilling the prophecy.”
In addition, a special arrangement by Edmonton composer Fred Merrett’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas is slated as a highlight.
“People are constantly amazed at the sheer technique and at the music that can be made from them. These guys are amazing. Some of these women have been ringing for 30 years and they bring a trained experience that’s hard to duplicate.”
Christmas Jazzed Up With Bells
Jubiloso! Bells of Concordia
Saturday, Dec. 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Robert Tegler Student Centre
Concordia University College
72 St. south of 112 Ave.
Tickets: $12. Call 780-420-1757 or visit www.tixonthesquare.ca