The heavenly sounds of the University Preparatory Handbell Choir will perform, along with the UPHS choir, dance and guitar classes, at the COS Theater Thursday, May 19 at 6pm. Some 27 members of the choir will fill the theater with the uplifting sounds of their bells during the performance.
Handbell choir and music instructor Patty Guthrie is celebrating the recent acquisition of a complete five-octave set of handbells. For several years Guthrie has taught a handbell class using bells borrowed from two local churches. Several times each week, Guthrie would pick up large cases of bells and bring them to UPHS, TCOE’s public charter school located on the Visalia campus of College of the Sequoias.
In the past six months, the school managed to raise nearly $13,000 toward the purchase of their own set.
Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak and the board members kicked off the campaign at the November Tulare County Board of Education meeting with a donation of $5,000. During the holidays, Gateway Church in Visalia allowed the choir to play at their Christmas programs and to receive donations, which they matched up to $1,000.
Guthrie reported that the school received nearly $4,000 from those Christmas performances, plus $1,000 from the Visalia Downtown Rotary and $1,000 from an anonymous local woman. Local foundations, community members and educators also donated, including the Provident-Salerno Family Foundation, Randy Rowlett, David Miller, Nora Allstedt, Cheryl Small, Judy Summers, UPHS teacher Helen Million-Feller and former principal John Kelly.
During the fundraising, Guthrie found a man willing to sell his used four-octave set, which will be reconditioned by the original manufacturer this summer. A fifth-octave set arrives in time for the students to use them at the UPHS Showcase on May 19.
“We look forward to sharing this beautiful and unique musical experience with Tulare County audiences,” said Mrs. Guthrie. “While high school handbell choirs are fairly common on the east coast, I am not familiar with any schools in this area that play these special instruments.”
For more information, call UPHS at (559) 730-2529.