Arts Playlist: Capital Ringers virtual holiday show
Delmarva’s community handbell ensemble, the Capital Ringers, is producing a virtual holiday performance.
In this week’s Arts Playlist, Delaware Public Media’s Kelli Steele chats with group’s founder and artistic director Linda Simms about the show - Tidings of Comfort and Joy Holidays 20-20.
Simms says the virtual show is an effort to fill the live Christmas music gap expected because of the COVID-19 pandemic - and make up for losses they face from lost performances.
“When COVID struck and it became very clear to all of us that we were going to have to shelter in-place and dramatically change our way of life at least for a while. We just didn’t know how long," said Simms. "We had to cancel everything. And so that - obviously - for a nonprofit was a big hit for us financially. So we had to figure out how we were going to recover from that.”
Simms says the Capital Ringers’ 30-members practiced all summer to create the virtual holiday show,
And she notes the show’s title reflects the mood of many people during the COVID-19 pandemic. And so will the show, which will feature a more serious tone than years past.
“It became very clear that we were losing so many Americans to COVID that we have a lot of healing to do and we are in a lot of pain - worldwide of course. But it became clear that I needed to somehow select music that was not cutesy,” said Simms.
Simms notes that the Capital Ringers usually insert at least one piece that is comical into their shows. This year, the focus will be on feel-good pieces like Winter Wonderland and Bells On Earth Shall Ring.
The ensemble is offering three options to access its holiday performance on its website:
- A complete concert, including song introductions, available to individuals beginning December 6
- A subscription service that includes two songs a week, beginning November 21
- A branded or unbranded full-concert option for churches, businesses and other organizations that they are free to share with their particular community.
The two concert options include a bonus video that features the making of the production and interviews with arrangers of the holiday repertoire.
The Capital Ringers have the largest collection of handbells and handchimes on the Delmarva Peninsula. Their Christmas show is a holiday tradition, and they also perform in the spring with themes that have included everything from Dr. Seuss to classic rock.
Their 2020 spring schedule was canceled, and it is unclear when the group will perform live again.
They have been following strict COVID-19 protocols while rehearsing for the Christmas concert at Conley’s United Methodist Church near Lewes.
Delaware Public Media' s arts coverage is made possible, in part, by support from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.