Based at Rider University’s Westminster Choir College and conducted by Kathleen Ebling Shaw, the Westminster Concert Bell Choir is composed of undergraduate and graduate students selected by audition. This year celebrates the 44th year of the handbell curriculum at Westminster Choir College, the first institution in the world to develop such a program.
Hailed for its virtuosity, the Westminster Concert Bell Choir performs on the largest range of handbells in the world – eight octaves, from C1 to C9. Many are made of bronze and range in weight from four ounces to 11 pounds; the Choir also uses the large “Basso Profundo” aluminum-cast bells that are a new phenomenon in handbell ringing. The Choir supplements its handbell set with a six-octave set of Malmark Choirchime® instruments from C2 to C8 – the widest range in existence.
The Westminster Concert Bell Choir has appeared on Public Television’s Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and several holiday broadcasts of the Today show, including one in which the ensemble was joined in a performance by NBC hosts Katie Couric and Willard Scott. Its holiday performances have been heard on Performance Today, and it is included on NPR’s Christmas Around The Country II recording. It has performed at Carnegie Hall twice during the Christmas season, and it was featured on New Jersey Network’s State of The Arts program.
The ensemble joined Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Charlotte Church and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for a critically acclaimed 15-city tour titled A Royal Christmas. Most recently, the Choir performed with singer Josh Groban at NBC’s nationally televised lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.
The Westminster Concert Bell Choir has made eleven recordings: The Pealing Bells, Westminster Concert Bell Choir, Christmas Bells, Westminster Rings!, Praise and Adoration, Christmas at Westminster: The Westminster Concert Bell Choir, By Request, Westminster Concert Bell Choir: 30th Anniversary Collection, A Time To Dance, An English Christmas and Let Freedom Ring!