Ringing in the holidays | NevadaAppeal.com

Ringing in the holidays

John Barrette
Photos by Wheeler Cowperthwaite / Nevada AppealLourdes Calzada, left, and Amber Sady ring to a packed room at Total Wine and More in Reno.

Tintabulations Handbell Ensemble, a group entering its busiest time of the year, will perform twice in Carson City on Saturday and once again in mid-December.

The ensemble plays in the lobby at the Carson City Community Center at 1:15 p.m. Saturday, setting the mood for the afternoon performance of “Peanutcracker – the story in a Nutshell” by Sierra Nevada Ballet.

At the First United Methodist Church the group later that day performs “Ringing in the Holidays” at 5 p.m. About two weeks later at the Carson City Library, the group will reprise that performance at 1 p.m. on Dec. 15.

“Playing in this ensemble is like nothing else,” said Amber Sady, a Reno resident who is a children’s librarian at the Carson branch.

Sady started with a church handbell group about three years ago, joining Tintabulations two years later.

She has a bachelor of science degree in elementary education and a master’s in library science, but also earned a minor in music. She is a musician with more than 20 years experience.

Trumpet and voice are part of her background and she was in band from age 11 on in school. So her comment that being in the ensemble is like nothing else is intriguing.

Each ensemble has its own quirks, Sady offers as one reason, but she soon provides more. For example, practice and playing for Tintabs – the ensemble’s nickname – is both fun and serious.

“It’s good that we keep it light-hearted,” she said, adding that many of the bell ringers take it so seriously, in part, because they are music educators as well.

Another serious aspect, she indicated, involves cost. The nonprofit group just bought a good used set of handbells for several thousand dollars, a set that would have cost about $20,000 new.

Serious and fun, however, aren’t the only aspects that contribute to the uniqueness of the experience. As Sady puts it, when she first ran across handbells years ago she thought it “the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.”

In addition, Sady praised her colleagues in the 13-member ensemble.

Similar thoughts came from Michelle Powers, a member of the ensemble who also is involved with a handbells group at First United Methodist, the Carson City church where Tintabs is set to play Saturday.

“It’s really nice to be able to participate with such a diverse group,” Powers said.

Barb Walsh, director and leader of Tintabs, echoed such upbeat comments regarding members of her ensemble.

“My favorite thing is the people in the group,” she said, adding that a close second is the amazing music they make together.

Walsh, a general music teacher at Lena Juniper Elementary School in Sparks, said she first became involved with playing handbells at her church in the mid-1980s.

She later started a group consisting of grade schoolers who formed a core for her continuing involvement because some wanted to continue through high school, college and beyond.

Sady and Powers, among the newer members, enjoy playing music that ranges from traditional to modern.

“There are a lot of new pieces that we play,” Sady said.

Asked to cite part of the group’s repertoire, she mentioned “Nocturnal Fantasy,” which she said was performed for the first time by the ensemble while playing at Disneyland in June.

In addition to playing three times in Carson City by the middle of December, the ensemble on its schedule going into the final month of the year has at least two other appearances posted on the Internet.

One is at the Joe Crowley Student Union Ballroom on the University of Nevada, Reno, campus on Sunday. The other is at The Rock Church in Sparks with the Reno Pops Orchestra on Dec. 14. Both those Reno area performances begin at 7:30 p.m.