Chorus with Handbells

There are a lot of short pieces for chorus (often unison) with simple handbell parts, but not many full-length works with elaborately-worked out accompaniments entirely in the bells.

This work has the effect of a Lesson, an emotional Interpretation, and a Blessing. Stylistically it moves gradually from ancient to Romantic modern. The form is episodic, in 8 distinct sections, starting with a dialog between Cantor and chorus and building successively to two big climaxes, the first bitter, the second sweet.

Along the way, the handbells provide altar-bell-like punctuations (one almost expects to smell incense), cadence-markers, and short transitions at the start and very end, plus extended walking-line ostinato accompaniment under two perorations in the middle, the second becoming thick and dissonant, and a burst of clangorous, continuous light at the second climax on the word “God”.

ListenScoreTitleVoicesSolosAccomp.Dur.Lyrics byYear
view scoreThe Mixed BlessingsSSAATTBBbar and/or low Thandbells (or vibraphone with glockenspiel)13'Matthew/Luke2010
Order This»(concert excerpts)Ritualized, dramatic dialectic illuminating the paradoxical contradictions of the two sets of Blessings (and Woes) attributed to the Christ. Formalized semi-medieval quasi-Anglican-style start and end, one angry climax, one romantic climax on the word God. Punctuations, ostinatos, flashes of divine light from handbells.Lyrics»Notes»