The Raleigh Ringers will ring in new Stanly concert season

The wait is over.

The Raleigh Ringers are headed back to Stanly County.

The group last performed in Albemarle in 2018, and this month’s return performance took more than a year and a half to book, according to Charlotte Maness, president of the Stanly County Concert Association.

The SCCA will host the Ringers as the opening act of the organization’s 2023-2024 concert series.

David Harris is the music director and one of the founders of the Raleigh Ringers.

David Harris

The group began in 1990 when a few bell ringers decided church music was not enough. While they still wanted to play it, they wanted more.

Now 33 years later, the Raleigh Ringers still provide sacred music, with touches of rock’n’roll and other genres added to the mix.

“When we started there was probably only six or eight community-based handbell choirs in the country and now there are probably over 150,” Harris said. “It’s still growing.”

The group has 17 members, including charter bell ringers Cindy Massey and Sandy Hopson.

Bells come in the forms of different sizes, nations of origin and material, with the largest made from aluminum.

“We try to mix up the different tone qualities with different bells sounds,” Harris said. “We have eight different types of bells.”

The Raleigh Ringers perform throughout the year, with auditions conducted each January.

The first half of the year is spent performing more of the group’s general repertoire, with the latter part adding in more Christmas tunes.

The Ringers have performed in 39 states, Canada, France and England. The group plays around 25 concerts each year.

Harris said the longevity of the Raleigh Ringers is thanks to a couple reasons.

“I think we are always introducing brand new music,” he said. “We commission music. We have composers write new music for us. That I think is one of the compelling things that keeps us fresh and makes things interesting.”

The Raleigh Ringers also were featured in two specials on PBS. Harris said UNC-TV has helped show the Raleigh Ringers not only in North Carolina. It has spurred broadcasts in 45 states.

“We’ve heard stories about people joining bell choirs or starting bell choirs after seeing us,” Harris said.

Like other performing groups the COVID-19 pandemic has an impact on the Raleigh Ringers as well.

“We, like everyone else, were very depressed during the pandemic,” Harris said. “Our ringers are very passionate about our instrument, yet there were 20 months where we couldn’t perform. Since the pandemic, we’ve come back stronger than ever.”

SCCA will present The Raleigh Ringers at 3 p.m. Aug. 27 at the Stanly County Agri-Civic Center on N.C. Highway 24-27 in Albemarle.

“We are thrilled to bring The Raleigh Ringers back to our stage,” Maness said. “We are proud that this group is based in North Carolina and now internationally known for their excellence in this very special art of music. It will be a fantastic concert of all kinds of music on the bells and we are happy we could finally get them booked back with us here. What a way to begin our new season.”

Advanced tickets are on sale at Starnes Bramlett Jewelers and the Agri-Civic Center. Tickets can also be purchased at the door and are available for individual shows and the season series.

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Click below for a video from The Raleigh Ringers.