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Raleigh Ringers will perform at St. John’s Methodist in Aiken

July 31, 2018

The Raleigh Ringers have rung their bells around the world.

On Aug. 5, the concert handbell choir from North Carolina’s capital city will bring their talent and eclectic mix of music to St. John’s United Methodist Church.

The concert will begin at 3 p.m. in the church sanctuary. Doors will open at 2:30 p.m.

Admission is free, and seating is first-come, first-served. During intermission, a freewill offering will be accepted to support the Carolina Honduras Health Foundation, a medical mission to Honduras started by a doctor from Barnwell.

Founded in 1990, the community-based Raleigh Ringers have performed in 39 states and the District of Columbia, in Europe and in Canada, according to the group’s website at rr.org. Their concert specials have aired nationally on syndicated radio and have been broadcast on more than 250 Public Television stations in 45 states.

David M. Harris, who was instrumental in forming the group, is the director.

The Rev. Bob Clyburn, a retired Methodist minister and a member of St. John’s, first heard the Raleigh Ringers at a concert in Augusta.

“They make beautiful music,” Clyburn said. “They probably are the most accomplished and the best at what they do in this part of the country. They have to sound like a single unit, and they do. They’re the best I’ve ever heard.”

The Raleigh Ringers “use the most extensive collection of handbells and bell-like instruments owned by a single performing group in the world,” spanning the “current grand total” of 29 and a half octaves, according to the group’s website.

“They bring more than 300 pieces of equipment with them,” Clyburn said. “That’s a lot.”

The Raleigh Ringers’ concert repertoire mixes “unique interpretations of sacred, secular and popular music, including famous rock ‘n’ roll tunes arranged just for handbells,” according to the group’s website.

Some of the titles on the group’s many CDs are the traditional hymn “Blessed Assurance;” the classical “Prelude in C-sharp minor,” by Sergei Rachmaninoff; and “Free Bird,” the 1970s power ballad by Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd.

“I would say ‘The Flight of the Bumblebee’ is not a religious piece,” Clyburn said of another Raleigh Ringers’ arrangement featured on YouTube. “They do familiar church music but also classical and popular music, and they bring the audience right along with them. The style of music is going to be very eclectic.”

Clyburn described the Raleigh Ringers’ performances as “more like a show than a concert.”

“They’ll have us laughing at some of their antics as they ring the bells,” he said. “They’ll show off a little bit at how skillful they are at ringing and do all these movements. They’re quite good at that. They’re very entertaining.”

St. John’s is at 104 Newberry St. N.W.

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