File photo The Eastern New Mexico Handbell Festival will bring 105 ringers together from Canyon and Levelland, Texas, Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Alamogordo, Clovis and Portales.
Freedom New Mexico
The 17th annual Eastern New Mexico Handbell Festival will kick off the holiday season on Saturday.
Event organizer William Wood said the festival is held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving each year.
This year, 105 handbell ringers will come from Canyon and Levelland, Texas, Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Alamogordo, Clovis and Portales to perform during the public concert.
The 10 choirs have been working on their music and will begin practicing together Saturday morning with director Michael Mazzetenta.
Mazzententa, from Mesa, Ariz., is the chair of a five-state area of the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers. The area includes New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and Arizona.
The festival is endorsed by the AGEHR.
Wood said handbell directors from the First United Methodist churches in Clovis and Portales and Kingswood United Methodist Church in Clovis organized the festival.
Wood said the choir at First United Methodist Church in Portales has been practicing the music once a week since late August.
“It’s a challenge, but it’s coming along,” he said. “It’s interesting when you put all these people together, somehow it all comes out.”
The concert will feature holiday and sacred music, Wood said.
The concert is free and an offering will be taken.
Wood said the festival is a chance for the ringers to perform in a different approach.
“Handbells are about sharing music with each other. This is a chance for the ringers to play in a large orchestra, which is a different approach, a different experience. Music is to be shared. It’s really not what it should be until we share it with others,” Wood said.