By Hannah Tarr
Last Monday, the FC Bronze Ringers shined a light on an otherwise gray and dismal day in Disney World’s Disney Springs. From a lakefront landing called Waterview Park, 13 of the renowned handbell choir members performed Disney hits for the enjoyment of the tourists passing by.
FC was recruited to perform in Disney by Disney Performing Arts. This organization focuses on giving high school performing arts groups the chance to perform in exhibition or competition in their parks, according to handbells director Angela Hampton.
“[Disney Performing Arts] very often will send this stuff out, ‘Hey, bring your group out and play’,” Hampton said.
Interested groups, including the Bronze Ringers, will then send in an application, photographs, and audition tapes. If Disney thinks the group has the ability, they will place the group in a venue.
“Two of the times the handbells have performed in Disney, that venue has been Epcot,” said Hampton. The other two were both in Disney Springs, Disney’s shopping district. All four performances have been in exhibition, though there are competitive festivals a few times a year.
Traveling to Disney was optional for FC handbell students. Of the 40-something Bronze Ringers Hampton said she directs, 13 chose to travel to Orlando over Spring Break to perform.
“I love Disney, and I love handbells,” said senior Isabelle Langford. Because of that, her decision of whether or not to go to Disney was a simple one.
Hampton, a self-described “Disney junkie,” was excited not only for the trip itself, but for the educational value of performing — for both musicians and audience members.
“A lot of people don’t even know what handbells is,” she said. “So we get to kind of show people what it is that we do.”
Most important, though, is the students getting to perform in an entirely different environment than the one they are used to. When performing for family members in Floyds Knobs, it is assumed that the audience will appreciate the performance. But down in Florida, the audience could be entirely critical strangers.
“The exposure outside of that comfortable element is really good, and it makes you better every time,” said Hampton.
The students had a different way of putting it, though. After the performance, sophomores Delaney Bigler and Delaney Agnew agreed on a phrase to describe the performance: “nerve-racking.”
“But we overcame our challenges,” said Bigler. “We just played through.”
Overcoming the challenges that often come with performing was part of the magic of the Spring Break trip, and the challenges didn’t stop there. In the hour leading up to the Bronze Ringers’ performance, there was a rain shower, as there so often is during Florida afternoons. The rain let up just in time, but the performers feared its return.
“I was really nervous about the performance because of the rain threat and the wind,” said Langford. That wind which had come with the storm proved to be a real nuisance. It furiously tore at the performers’ music- so much so that Langford said that at one point, the music of everyone around her flipped to the back page. They were all playing from memory for about a page until she got a chance to flip her music again.
In spite of so many factors working against them, the Bronze Ringers raised their bells in unison as Hampton conducted them to do so. On her cue, they rang their bells in melody and harmony, sending sparkling Disney tunes through the air of Disney Springs, just like Disney magic.
“I think we did a great job,” said Langford. “Plus, we were playing at the happiest place on Earth, which made it even better.”
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