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Home > Articles > The Great Christmas Ring at Carnegie Hall

The Great Christmas Ring at Carnegie Hall
Neesa Hart


by: Neesa Hart

Five years ago, when we launched The Great Christmas Ring, our idea was to provide directors a resource they could use for a no-fuss, fun-to-host, low-gear, high-impact performance during the Christmas season when audiences are particularly excited about bells.

Handbell Musicians are so busy during December that the idea of getting the bells out into the community and exposing new audiences to handbell ringing can be overwhelming. All that gear! All those bells! Pads, tables, mallets, chimes, books, whew! So, we wanted to make that easier. What if it could be done with nothing but music stands and 2 bells per ringer? What if it were approachable and easy to manage and other ringers could join in for the camaraderie and joy of bringing handbell musicianship to a new audience? What if scheduling a venue was a lot easier because you didn’t need all that space – so you could ring at the bus terminal, or the train station, or the airport, or the hospital, or the college, or the mall? And just to make it a little more festive for directors, we’d give them the opportunity to make a little bit of money for their program just by hosting a Great Christmas Ring. Our Motto - “Grab your bells and get out there!” was a really creative way to get bells out of our buildings and into the great wide world of Christmas festivities without stressing budgets, gear, or ringers. For five years, Great Christmas Rings have been performed across the country – and even around the world, uniting musicians and audiences with a love of handbell music.

Then this year, something remarkable happened. Distinguished Concerts International in New York (DCINY), a professional performance production company, decided they wanted to present The Great Christmas Ring at Carnegie Hall in 2019. Hold onto your bells – this just got real.

Not only is this an opportunity for handbell musicians to perform at Carnegie Hall, but the Great Christmas Ring will be the prelude to the annual presentation of The Messiah – DCINY’s biggest performance of the year. It’s always a sold-out crowd full of music lovers and concert goers who will get to experience a mass ring for perhaps the first time. DCINY has put together a travel experience that includes the pre-rehearsal on Saturday, November 30th; the rehearsal and sound check on Sunday, December 1st; and the reception and performer’s dinner following the concert. There are additional packages available for travel companions who don’t wish to perform but do want to savor the experience with you.

This is a great opportunity for handbell musicians who want an experience performing on the most prestigious stage in the world. Kevin McChesney will be directing the mass ring of 250 musicians on December 1st, 2019 when Handbells come to Carnegie Hall for The Great Christmas Ring. Spaces are limited, and ringing positions are on a first-come, first-served basis. So, register early to ensure your performance spot and your preferred position.

As an added bonus, The Great Christmas Ring will also be performed at Central Park at the Columbus Circle Christmas Market – one of the largest in the world on Saturday, November 30th. Everyone who is performing in The Carnegie Hall Concert can ring in the Central Park event for FREE. Musicians who wish to ring at The Christmas Market only can participate by buying the music – available from The Great Christmas Ring, or, if The Great Christmas Ring has been performed in your town, and you already own the book – it’s just a $10 registration fee to help cover the costs of the event. Times and exact location are still being decided, and details will be forthcoming soon. We’re hoping to have 500 musicians there to ring in the season in New York. So, as we say at The Great Christmas Ring – “Grab your bells and get out there.” See you all in NYC in December!

For details, see