ALTON — The Christian Ringers Handbell Choir will present a goodwill offering concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 31, at the Upper Alton Baptist Church.
The program will feature arrangements of hymns such as “This Is My Father’s World,” “Alleluia,” “Thou Art Worthy,” “My Lord, What A Morning,” as well as Bach’s “Sheep May Safely Graze” with cello solo and flute duet accompaniment. The finale of the program is “The All-American Hometown Band,” in which the bell ringers will add sound effects to liven up the show. In addition to the 14-member choir, the children’s bell ringers will perform.
This year the choir’s guest musician will be internationally acclaimed baritone soloist Robert (Bob) Ellison, whose repertoire includes many genres of vocal selections. He retired from the Air Force after 32 years of service, participating in talent shows, theater productions, church groups and the Air Force competition Tops in Blue, where he advanced to the worldwide finals five times. In 1978 he was cross-trained into the Military Airlift Command Band at Scott AFB, where he served as band superintendent and performed until his retirement in 1989. He has been guest soloist with the St. Louis and Pittsburgh symphonies, the Compton Heights Concert Band, the Legacy Big Band of St. Louis and the O’Fallon Township High School Band. In 1982 and again in 1985 he opened the World Series in Busch Stadium with his rendition of the national anthem. In 1991 and 1995, Bob was the featured soloist at the inauguration of Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar. His many other artistic accomplishments explain why he is often in demand as guest artist throughout the country.
The five-octave bell choir, directed by Irwin Ballard and Abbi Knoche, has a 45-year history, having performed over the years in many church and community venues as well as three European concert trips. The ringers present spring and Christmas concerts annually.