Bells of the Sound (aka BOTS) was formed nearly 30 years ago by several handbell directors in the Seattle area who were looking for an opportunity to step to the other side of the table and ring. Since then, Bells of the Sound has matured into an auditioned community ensemble dedicated to musical excellence and exciting performance. The group likes to think outside of the box for their concert themes and have sponsored six composition contests to generate music that fits these themes. Several submissions to their contests have gone on to publication, including "Andromeda" by Nancy Hascall, "The Journey Home" by Paul McKlveen, "Glad Sound Blues" by Michael Mazzatenta and "Enhebrado de la Aguja Del Espacio (Threading the Space Needle)" by Matthew Prins.
BOTS presents two seasons of concerts to audiences throughout the Puget Sound every year and regularly collaborates with local choral, symphonic and handbell groups. Two of the more unique opportunities they have had were working with film and television composer Mateo Messina on two of his symphony projects written to benefit Seattle Children's Hospital: "Symphony of the Superhero in 2009" and "The Pageant" in 2016. And secondly creating the Seattle Handbell Orchestra with Emerald City Ringers and Rainier Ringers where the three groups performed as a group, but rather than a mass ring each group played their own part, like separate instruments. This past December, BOTS was featured on KING 98.1's Northwest Focus Live, performing live in the studio and giving interviews with host Sean MacLean. And in July 2017, Bells of the Sound was especially proud to represent the Pacific Northwest at Handbell Musicians of America's National Seminar in Anaheim, California, performing an all jazz concert, complete with drums, string bass and keyboard.
In addition to performing, Bells of the Sound has four released CDs: Ring We Now Noël, Signatures, The Sound of Christmas and Just Jazz, which feature not only arrangements of well-known tunes, but many of the original handbell compositions written for their composition contests.
Bells of the Sound owns one of the largest sets of handbells in the United States including 7-1/2 octaves of Malmark handbells, 5 octaves Malmark Choirchimes, 3 1/2 octaves of Petit & Fritsen handbells, and 2 octaves of Silver Melody Bells. These purchases were primarily funded by their annual Apple Pie Make fundraiser, where the group presells then makes over 500 apple pies in one day – it's a lot of work but a lot of fun, too!
Next up for Bells of the Sound is a joint concert series this spring with Bells of the Cascades. The two groups will combine as well as play solo pieces in both Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon under the batons of their directors, Shirley Lindberg and Mathew Compton. It's going to be an interesting event!
Learn more about Bells of the Sound here: bellsofthesound.org