Welcome to Sonos Handbell Ensemble!   Artistic Director: James Meredith

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Widely considered the best handbell group in the US.

-- Sarah Cahill
East Bay Express

Their music stunned us all. The four thousand audience members went wild, just as we knew they would.

-- Garrison Keillor
Host, A Prairie Home Companion

Olympians of handbell ringers.

-- Joyce Johnson Hamilton
Music Director, Diablo Symphony

The musicianship ... is solid, and the musical values regarding repertoire and its execution are invariably of the highest order. So is the sound.

-- David Vernier

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Making of a Virtual Handbell Ensemble

The first ever Virtual Handbell Ensemble, featuring 440 handbell musicians from 28 states and 6 countries performs Sonos' Artistic Director James Meredith's "Misterium". The piece was broken into individual segments, some requiring four or more musicians playing a complete melody or harmony line, and others with nothing more than a single singing bell, alternating eighth notes, or a single accented note on a bass bell. Over an 8 month period, 440 musicians submitted nearly 600 individual clips, which were compiled into this video. None of the musicians knew where in the piece their video would fit or what the finished piece would sound like.

It all started in the Summer of 2012. Composer James Meredith and Handbell Musicians of America executive director Jennifer Cauhorn, insipired by the virtual vocal choir projects, began discussing what it would take to do such a project with handbells.

Meredith composed the piece "Misterium" in two weeks but allowed no one to see the actual score until the final video was complete. He disassembled the music into individual segments, some consisting of a single sforzando bass note or extended singing bell note, and some consisting of alternating eighth or quarter notes and even portions of the melody and harmony lines. The idea was that there would be segments that could be played by handbell musicians of all levels and experience; some could even be performed by a person picking up a bell for the first time.

See the Virtual Handbell Ensemble site at http://virtual.handbellmusicians.org.

Learn more about handbells, hanchimes, and the Handbell Musicians of America at http://www.handbellmusicians.org.

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