This Irish ensemble Celtica from Belleville will perform in concert with the Christian Ringers Handbell Choir at the Upper Alton Baptist Church at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 1.
Celtica was formed in Belleville in 2005 by an Irish music-loving group that met in their own homes to organize the ensemble, which has appeared at many venues in the area. Composed of guitar, mandolin, penny whistle, flute, piano and vocals, Celtica started off with pub gigs at Belleville’s Castletown Geoghegag in 2007 and eventually appeared in such venues as Bellleville’s Art On The Square Concert Series, Nashville, IL, Sunset On The Square Concert Series, Union United Methodist Church, as well as performances with the Belleville Philharmonic Orchestra and the Alton Great Rivers Choral Society.
Opening the program will be a handbell ensemble directed by Abbi Knoche and made up of children from the Upper Alton Baptist Preschool. Abbi is a church member and a recent graduate of Illinois State University. The choir will be made up of vocalists from area churches. Cheryl Schaefer, playing flute; Cheryl Houck on piano and the handbell choir will accompany the choir.
The Christian Ringers Handbell Choir was formed as the Upper Alton Baptist Church bell choir in 1970. Through the years, the choir has appeared in many programs in the Greater Alton area as well as on concert trips to Europe in 1989, 1998 and 2004 presenting concerts in England, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria and Italy. The choir will present arrangements of spirituals, familiar hymns and rhythmic selections featuring both bells and handchimes and illustrating handbell ringing techniques. One selection, “Amazing Grace,” will feature cello soloist Hope Cash. The five octave choir consists of 15 ringers and will be directed by Abbi Knoche and Irwin Ballard. The concert is free; a free-will offering will be taken.