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Velocity Handbell Ensemble Performing In Sonora

Ring in the holiday season as the St. James Concert Series welcomes Velocity Handbell Ensemble, bringing the gift of music in the form of brass bells (and their ringers). Velocity has at the heart of its mission statement the words “have fun.” That would be fun for the audience as well as fun for the ringers.

This festive program is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 2 at 3 p.m. at St. Matthew Lutheran Church, 13880 Joshua Way, Sonora. Tickets are $20 for adults, $6 for students under 18. Tickets are available at Mountain Bookshop in The Junction, by calling 532-1580, or at the door.

Velocity will perform a concert of holiday favorites such as Silent Night and Good Christian Men, Rejoice!, peppered with traditional standards such as Jingle Bells and The Twelve Days of Christmas that are changed up a bit. There will be classical Christmas favorites, children’s Christmas favorites, and the audience will be invited to join the bells in a sing-a-long.

Velocity Handbell Ensemble is a community of ringers dedicated to moving the artistry of handbells towards musical excellence and a high standard of performance. Velocity began in 2001 as a small ensemble, originally with six ringers. Since its inception, Velocity has continued to pioneer handbell performance with its innovative concept concerts. Their precision, grace, virtuosity and exquisite musical style has entranced audiences across the country, as well as at home in the San Francisco Bay Area.

For over 40 years, Velocity’s artistic director, Pamela “P.L.” Grove has been at the forefront of handbell artistry in America. She has performed with the San Francisco Girls Chorus, the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, the Kronos Quartet, Frederica von Stade and twice on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. She is currently the president of Handbell Musicians of America (the national organization devoted to promoting and teaching handbells); has conducted, performed and taught workshops throughout the United States, in the United Kingdom and Japan; and she is one of only a few people ever to receive a Bachelor’s degree in handbell performance.

While the term “velocity” is sometimes defined as distance traveled per unit of time, Velocity Handbell Ensemble takes its name from the lesser-known dictionary definition: “the rate of change of position in relation to time.” In other words, it’s not just about speed – it’s about having the right rate of speed, the right amount of movement for each piece: sometimes fast and sometimes slow, but always at the right rate to make music: music that moves.

Their performances blend a unique style of humor, scripting, and ringing at its best. There will be a reception following the concert where audience members have an opportunity to meet and visit with the performers.

In addition to bringing artists, such as Velocity Handbell Ensemble, to the community, the St. James Concert offers scholarships through the Sierra Music Scholarship Program to students studying privately with local music teachers. Auditions for the scholarships will be held Feb. 16, 2019. For scholarship applications, visit Donations to the Scholarship Fund are tax deductible and may be made through the Sonora Area Foundation.