Thursday, May 3, 2012


 Embellishments performed a handbell concert at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

Andromeda was accompanied by a Power Point Presentation of nebulas, galaxies, and other space scenes taken with the Hubble telescope.

We were told by the Directress, Phyllis Kirk that the composer of Le Carnaval Des Animaux, Camille Saint-Saens, would only allow The Swan to be played in public during his lifetime. He stated that other pieces of the collection were only to be played upon his death. Other songs in the collection include The Kangaroo which was done haltingly symbolizing the hopping and stopping of a kangaroo. Elephant was another part of the suite. Persons with Long Ears brought to mind a rabbit or hare but we were informed it was a donkey. A very small violin about twelve inches was used to represent the sound of the donkey. Imagine someone unable to play the violin stretching the bow slowly across the strings which gives a braying sound, The Turtle was also one of the animals. The sound of The Cuckoo in the Middle of the Woods was done with a recorder. It was amusing in that the musician played the same two notes over and over until the end of the piece

To hear the Duke’s music played with handbels was a treat in itself.  Don’t Get Around Much Anymore was lively and put a fresh spin on Duke Ellington’s well known composition.

Pavane is best known as a more modern tune, Stranger in Paradise.
Polovetsian Dance No. 1 was a slow version of the can can. As an encore the version was done more upbeat with a humorous surprise for the audience.

Amazing Grace was played on bagpipes by Trent Bradford  as the handbell ensemble accompanied him. Adorned in  authentic Scottish apparel the bagpiper added realism to his performance.
  As an encore the company did a “remix” of Polovetsian Dance No. 1 with an  upbeat can can tempo. Along with this two of the handbell members had donned black stockings on their arms which served as legs underneath a wide skirt, lifted and swung side to side in can can dance fashion. Peals of laughter erupted from the audience .


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