Handbell ensemble's concert raises funds for scholarship
A Sunday afternoon concert by the East Texas Handbell Ensemble, directed by Arnold Sherman, raised about $800 for the Matinee Musical Club's Louise Hale Sessions Memorial Scholarship Fund.
The local club sponsored the concert which drew a turnout of about 150 people in the Rockdale Junior-High School Commons. Sherman and the handbell ensemble donated their services to the scholarship effort. Named for a long-time Rockdale school teacher, the Sessions scholarship is awarded by the club to a graduating Rockdale High School senior who intends to pursue music in college.
Sherman, the ensemble's director, is a familiar name in Rockdale. He was youth director at St. John's United Methodist Church from 1969 to 1976, and also was director of both the Regeneration Singers, a community youth chorus, and the Adult Community Choir. Both of those organizations presented numerous concerts and musical productions during those years.
The East Texas Handbell Ensemble is a professional group of 15 members from Tyler and surrounding areas who are dedicated to advancing the art of English Handbell ringing. The group performs on seven octaves of Malmark Choirchimes and often incorporates various percussive and woodwind instruments into its performances, which help create the group's unique, dynamic style of musical interpretation.
The ensemble has toured extensively throughout the United States.
Two Rockdale musicians, trumpeter Lee Thomason and wife Leah Thomason, flutist, joined the ensemble for several numbers, also playing percussive instruments. Mrs. Thomason is president of the Matinee Musical Club.
Special guests at the concert were Rockdale natives Sidney and Nona Dymke Maxwell of Boerne. Mrs. Maxwell directed a youth handbell choir based at First Christian Church in Rockdale for many years. Sherman credited her with introducing him to handbell music.
The program's first half was in celebration of the National Federation of Music Clubs' "Parade of American Music" month. Selec- tions included "Deep River", "An American Tapestry", "Amazing Grace" and "Camptown Races."
Following intermission, the program included "Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella", "Do You Hear What I Hear?", "Parade of the Tin Soldier", "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear", "We Three Kings" and "Ukranian Bell Carol."
Ensemble members are Suzanne Blair, Jayne Brown, Brian and Jeanne Christopherson, Mary Beth Dawes, Sueda Lutrell, Andy Martinez, Karen Mobbs, Karen Morrow, Gini Rainey, Sally Reed, Leslie Russell and Diane Sorrels.