March 30, 2024

It is a common and fun practice for people to name things that a regular part of their lives. Many people name their cars. Boating enthusiasts always name their boats. Musicians of all musical styles name their instruments. For example, rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry named his guitar “Maybellene” and recorded a song using the name.

Kansas City Bronze, one of the region’s leading community handbell ensembles, recently added several very large bells to their collection, expanding the group to six octaves. The largest of the newly acquired bells is nearly 16 pounds, with a diameter of 14 inches and standing over 18 inches tall. Since the note it rings is a very low F, the group has affectionately named the bell “Big Fred.” The other newly acquired bells have been assigned similar monikers, Big George for G, Big Al for the A, and so forth.

It is all in fun, but the additional bells have dramatically increased the scope and programming of Kansas City Bronze. “We are able to play much more advanced and exciting music,” says William Baker, founder and director of the group. “In many ways, having these low sounds create the idea of a symphony of bells.”

Kansas City Bronze will perform their next concert on Sunday, April 7, 4:00 p.m. , in the nave of the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 416 SE Grand Avenue in Lee’s Summit. The concert is free to the public, with donations accepted. A Wine and Cookie Reception will follow, presented by the Friends of St. Paul’s Music.

The one-hour program will include a bell arrangement of the classic “Passacaglia” by George Frideric Handel, and concert pieces by prominent composers of handbell music including Jason Krug, Valerie Stephenson and Cathy Moklebust. Kansas City Bronze will be joined for two selections by St. Paul Church’s principal organist, Alisa Carmichael, and trumpeter Alex Caselman. One of these two selections, a setting of the popular hymn “This Is My Father’s World,” will provide an opportunity for the audience to sing along with the organ, bells and trumpet.

Members of Kansas City Bronze come from across the Kansas City region and are chosen by competitive audition. Several of the 15 ringers are also handbell choir directors in churches around the area. The opportunity to be a part of an advanced ensemble provides experience and skills that are beneficial to all of the local programs they serve.

For additional information about the performance in Lee’s Summit by Kansas City Bronze, please call 913.488.7524, or email

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