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The Back Bay Ringers
The Back Bay Ringers are dedicated to preserving the rich tradition of handbell ringing in Boston, because they live, and ring, steps away from where handbells were brought to America by Margaret Shurcliff. With about 15 ringers on their roster, the Back Bay Ringers are an auditioned community handbell ensemble. Their artistic director, Griff Gall, founded the Back Bay Ringers in 2003 as the first handbell choir in America for members of the LGBTQ community and their allies. The Back Bay Ringers now define themselves as an open and affirming community choir. In fact, they are THE definition of a community choir - these guys truly love Boston. They are proud of Boston's part in the history of American handbells and are doing great work to ensure the continuation of Boston's ringing tradition by supporting handchime programs in area schools. The ensemble partners with Old South Church every May to host the annual Boston Handbell Festival. The Back Bay Ringers collect an offering during their performance at the festival and use the money collected to purchase a two octave set of Malmark Choirchimes and accompanying music for a local school. These donated sets have made their way into eight schools so far.
The ensemble practices at the First Church of Boston, located in Boston's Back Bay (hence the choir's name). The Back Bay Ringers practice every Monday for two and half hours. They ring 5.5 octaves of Malmark handbells, 6 octaves of Malmark Choirchimes, and 3 octaves of Whitechapel handbells. During practices they perfect repertoire for both their Spring and Winter performance seasons. Most of their concerts are local; they've performed at the Nichols House Museum, which was the home of Margaret Schurcliff's parents, and even got the chance to meet one of her grandsons! (You can learn more about Margaret Shurcliff here) The Back Bay Ringers also partnered with the Cambridge Science Festival in April 2015 to present “The Science of Handbells”. One of the Bay Back Ringers, Cade Murray, is a materials scientist and he lectured on metallurgy, sound waves, and overtones; the Back Bay Ringers also performed a free concert for attendees.
In addition to cool local performances, they have recorded with local pop group Nick and Noah, and were featured on Nick and Noah's Christmas EP. The ensemble was also featured on an episode of the long running show “48 Hours” (check out this YouTube clip of the recording process!) They have three pieces they've commissioned and have produced three CDs, “Merry and Bright”, “Comfort and Joy”, and “Perpetual Motion”. Fred Gramann's “Change Ring Prelude on Divinium Mysterium” is a particular favorite of the group, so much so that they included it on two of their CDs. Arnold Sherman's “Canticle” is another favorite as it was one of the first pieces the ensemble ever performed.
You can find the incredibly talented and giving Bay Back Ringers online at www.baybackringers.org. You can check in for upcoming concert dates, news, and can visit their shop to purchase their amazing CDs! They are also on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. (If you are on Twitter, it's worth following them for their fancy sock photos alone.)