Rooke Chapel Ringers continue as Univ. hallmark

By Jen Lassen

Arts & Life Editor

Shiny brass bells have long been a traditional symbol of the University, right up there with bison, the Bertrand Library clock tower and Rooke Chapel itself.

The Chapel bells symbolize the talented, dedicated and well-known Rooke Chapel Ringers handbell choir that has been a distinguished and wonderful group the University has the pleasure of calling its own.

The group consists of 16 talented current and former University students all fully committed to one of our finest traditions.

“We trust each other to do well, and that trust pulls through each time we play a piece,” Maria Thomas ’12 said.

Organized in 1983 under the direction of Dr. William A. Payn, director of choral studies, the group has performed at countless services and events. The Rooke Chapel Ringers regularly perform at the Protestant worship services on campus, but their big event each year is the traditional Christmas Candlelight Service in Rooke Chapel each December. This program, which has been taped and repeatedly televised by PBS, has been nominated for two Emmys, giving the group some serious bragging rights. The Ringers have earned a dignified spot in the University’s heritage, and for good reason.

“Their performances are always beautifully executed with lots of ‘connection’ with the audience. The PBS presentations, viewed throughout the country, are extremely professional … produced and directed by a very creative team. The ringer’s project the joy of ringing in their faces and their musical ability is unmatched by other college or university handbell ensembles. Audiences are always immediately on their feet at the end of performances,” Payn said.

“I think it’s because handbell ringing is usually kept to churches and isn’t widely publicized that seeing a very good handbell group such as the Rooke Chapel Ringers surprises people and makes them remember us,” Thomas said.

Other performances by the Ringers include a holiday tour through the seniors’ hometowns, a spring concert to be held on Sat. April 28 and a showing at this year’s Baccalaureate on Sat. May 19. The group has also traveled far and wide–-from New York City to Switzerland and Austria–-to perform for various audiences.

“I can’t even begin to express what a privilege it is for me to travel with these 16 young students. They represent Bucknell so very well. Most are not music majors, but represent most of the fields of study at Bucknell. It is indeed impressive and it is very obvious to the audience that these students are extremely passionate about their music-making as well as their studies,” Payn said.

Just like a well-balanced lifestyle is characteristic of University students, the Rooke Chapel Ringers will forever be a shining characteristic of the University’s past, present and future for many years to come.

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