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For Immediate Release: Sept. 3, 2003

Local Handbell Choir Rings in France

The sound of handbells rang through the halls of a 1,000-year-old abbey and over the fields of the Loire Valley in France. The Brookhaven College Handbell Ensemble, along with choirs and individuals from across the United States, performed as part of the Loire Valley Handbell Festival in July. The Festival brought together more than 100 ringers forming more than eight ensembles for the first massed handbell concert ever performed in France.

The week-long trip took the members of the Brookhaven College Handbell Ensemble from Dallas to France for three days of intensive practice with choirs and individuals from California, Puerto Rico, Minnesota, New York and more. The group practiced as much as six hours per day in a farmhouse in the countryside before performances at The American Church in Paris, Cathedrale Sainte d'Orleans in Orleans, and L'eglise de la Madeleine in Paris.

The festival was under the direction of internationally renowned handbell clinicians Fred Gramann, director of music at The American Church in Paris, and Dr. Larry Smith, conductor from the University of Southern Mississippi. The group also premiered a commissioned piece written by Gramann during the festival.

Bonnie Riddle, director of the Brookhaven College Handbell Ensemble, said the group really enjoyed the trip. Though the schedule for ringing was rigorous, the group had time to tour Paris, visit a number of chateaus and cathedrals in the area and some were able to see the final leg of the Tour de France as fellow Texan Lance Armstrong won the race.

Riddle said the group was invited to the festival by Gramann. The choir began practicing the pieces for the festival in April and worked through the summer before leaving July 21 for France. The ensemble had 13 ringers and six others that took part in the trip. The ensemble group included Jackie Brown, Kari Daelke, Diane Drews, Rosanne Hayward, Pam Nicotera, Kathleen Parsons, Sharon Schroeder, Stephanie Scott, Nancy Sommerman, Joyce Sweeney, Dan Thomas, and Charlotte Williamson.

For more information about the handbell ensemble at Brookhaven College, please contact the Fine Arts, Physical Education and Athletics Division at 972-860-4730.

Brookhaven College is one of the seven colleges of the DCCCD. For more information, please contact the Brookhaven College Public Information Office, 972-860-4700. Brookhaven College, a member of the Dallas County Community College District, is located in the city of Farmers Branch, just north of the LBJ Freeway (IH-635) at 3939 Valley View Lane between Midway Road and Marsh Lane.

Brookhaven College is one of the seven colleges of the Dallas County Community College District. Educational opportunities are offered by the Dallas County Community College District without regard to race, color, age, national origin, religion, sex, disability or sexual orientation.  Brookhaven College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 (telephone number 404-679-4501) to award the associate degree.


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Last Updated: Sept.9, 2003