Ozark Bronze rings in the holidays

Ozark Bronze rings in the holidays

“Every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings.” – Zuzu Bailey, “It’s a Wonderful Life”

That’s Jenn Leeka’s answer to the question “What makes handbells perfect for Christmas music?” She elaborates that “our ensemble plays arrangements of classical and popular selections, as well as original compositions. This year we are playing more traditional Christmas pieces than we have played in the last several years.”

Leeka plays with the Ozark Bronze, “a premier ensemble of auditioned handbell ringers from Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley” founded in 2006 by Kerry Johnston.

“Playing handbells is much different from most other instruments,” Leeka goes on to explain, “because one person is only responsible for a portion of the notes, yet the music is played to sound as if it is one person. It takes a lot of teamwork, listening to the other players, and depending on the rest of the group to have a successful bell choir.

“The individuals who make up Ozark Bronze are involved in a variety of professions,” she adds, “and we are bound together through the enjoyment of ringing handbells. Everyone has a different route that led them to handbells but for me, personally, the love of bells started when I was in junior high. My mom was the director of our youth handbell group, and it was something that we (me and mom) were able use as a bonding experience.”

Ozark Bronze — with 11 ringers and one percussion player — performs during the spring and Christmas seasons as well as special events throughout the year, Leeka says. The program for this holiday season includes “We Need a Little Christmas,” “I Saw Three Ships,” “The Nutcracker,” “Greensleeves,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Carol of the Bells” and “Los Peces en el Rio,” a traditional Mexican Christmas tune.

“Our goal is to excite audiences with a musically challenging repertoire,” Leeka says, “and our music always has something for every listener, from classical to pop to secular.



Ozark Bronze

Holiday Handbells

WHEN & WHERE — 3 p.m. Dec. 8, Fayetteville Public Library; 2 p.m. Dec. 14, First Presbyterian Church in Fort Smith; and 7 p.m. Dec. 28, Butterfield Trail Village in Fayetteville

COST — Free, but “all music, travel, and other items are funded through private donations” and “Ozark Bronze appreciates all contributions!”

INFO — ozarkbronze.com

FYI — Contributions may be mailed to Ozark Bronze, 2122 S. “M” St. in Fort Smith 72901.

Categories: Maker Space