Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Listen Online!

As noted earlier, you can hear the Chicago Bronze recordings for the GIA Music's handbell catalog online, courtesy of Jeffers Handbell Supply.

Here's links to Chicago Bronze recordings for GIA:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Parade of the Wooden Soldiers

This December Chicago Bronze will once again feature solo ringer Fred Snyder, performing "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" by Leon Jessel.

In the "Reader's Digest Merry Christmas Songbook" (1981), William L. Simon wrote:
Léon Jessel caught the jaunty strut of toys exactly when he wrote his Parade of the Wooden Soldiers as a novelty item in 1905. It was published in Germany and apparently heard there by a Russian producer who was readying a new revue for Paris bearing the title La Chauve-Souris (The Bat), for which he needed an offbeat dance number. He chose Jessel's rakish "Parade." The Bat opened on Broadway, finally, in 1922, and Ballard Macdonald, who wrote songs for the George White Scandals of 1924 and Ziegfeld's Midnight Frolic, gave the tune the lyrics given below and that seldom heard anymore. The arm-swinging melody and strutting rhythm of the piece make the march a charming one for children and adults at Christmas or any time of the year.
The toy shop door is locked up tight, and ev'rything is quiet for the night,
When suddenly the clock strikes twelve, the fun's begun!
The dolls are in their best arrayed, there's going to be a wonderful parade.
Hark to the drum, oh, here they come, cries ev'ryone
Hear them all cheering. Now they are nearing. There's the captain stiff as starch
Bayonets flashing, music is crashing, as the wooden soldiers march
Sabres a-clinking, soldiers a-winking, at each pretty little maid.
Here they come, here they come, here they come, here they come, wooden soldiers on parade!

The arrangement for handbell solo was written by Solo Artist Extraordinaire Christine Anderson, published under the title "Parade of the Tin Soldiers." It utilizes a large range of bells, almost a full three ocatves; Fred will be managing 24 bells, and trying hard to always put each bell back where it came from. When you come to the concert, try watching a single bell as it is picked up, weaved into the melody and then returned to the same spot on the table.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Joy to the World

The newsletters are out this week, so if you're on our mailing list, you should get it in the mail soon. If you're not on the mailing list, you can read it online from our website.

This year we'll be playing "Joy to the World," arranged by Alan Lohr (Soundforth).
The tune is widely considered to be from the "Messiah," by George Frideric Handel. This belief comes from notes made by the arranger, Lowell Mason. The original manuscript said "from George Frederic Handel." While it may have been based on phrases from Messiah, many scholars believe that it was created by Mason. Mason took the scripture-based text by Isaac Watts to create today's well-recognized carol.
Whoever the true composer was, Lohr has written a beautiful arrangement for handbells that is energetic and, well, joyful.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Charlie Brown

First, Chicago Bronze would like to say how pleased we are that our director, Philip L. Roberts, was named to the Board of Directors of the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers. Chicago Bronze is a proud member of the AGEHR, and we're excited that Phil will be working to promote handbell music nationally, as well as locally.

Second, we're pleased to present not one, but two of Phil's pieces this season. One of them is an arrangement of "A Charlie Brown Christmas."
The award-winning animated television special based on Charles Schulz's "Peanuts" characters was first broadcast in 1965, and every year since.
Reportedly, "executives thought that the jazz soundtrack by Vince Guaraldi would not work well for a children's program. When executives saw the final product, they were horrified and believed the special would be a complete flop." Not only was the show a success, the "Linus and Lucy" motif became famous as the Peanuts theme.
Phil's arrangement, commissioned by the Purdue University Handbell Choir, prominently features "Linus & Lucy," and includes many other themes from the show, particularly "Christmas Time is Here."
It does not, however, call for dancing like the Peanuts gang. That was added somewhat later by some of our more eager ringers, who reportedly spent hours watching the show over and over, researching the proper dance moves.