Big weekend for the bells

by Susan Bamford-Caleo
Publish date
20 February 2014
Comments (1)

Susan manages the Federation Handbells lending program.

8 and 9 February will be remembered as a grand weekend for the Federation Handbells with their participation in two very important events in Melbourne.
The Federation Handbells and Museum Victoria have an exciting partnership with the Melbourne Recital Centre this year. The first part of this project took place last week with two composition workshops leading to a performance that opened the Melbourne Recital Centre’s 5th Birthday Celebrations on Saturday 8 February. The performance was called Birthday Bells.

Federation Handbells procession The Federation Handbells, after a procession down St Kilda Road to launch the festivities at the Melbourne Recital Centre, lead the way to the Elizabeth Murdoch Hall.
Source: Melbourne Recital Centre

The workshops were led by composer Steve Falk and me, with participation from percussionists Eugene Ughetti and Leah Scholes. Those enrolled in the workshops had responded to a general call-out and included people ranging widely in age and background. Over the days that we spent together, playing and creating with the Federation Handbells, a genuine sense of group identity was created, so much so that the participants have asked if we can form a Federation Handbells Players group and suggested that we call it Clang!

The excitement and enthusiasm of the participants and the connection that developed with each other and with the bells was a perfect example of the Federation Handbells fulfilling their commission. Wonderful! 

We very much appreciated the generous assistance and support of Kirsten and the Melbourne Recital Centre staff and can’t wait to get back there for the second part of our joint project, the Federation Handbells Residency (April to September, 2014). 

The other very significant event at which the Federation Handbells appeared that weekend was the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Fifth Anniversary Remembrance Event on Sunday 9 February. The handbells were played in a performance of Risen From The Flame by The Blacksmith’s Tree Youth Choir, a choir consisting of children from fire-affected communities. The children sang and played their composition led by Bridget Muir, a youth worker from Nillumbik Council. The piece was originally written by Bridget and the children for the launch of the Blacksmith’s Tree in Whittlesea in November, 2013.  You can view the performance in this YouTube video:


The Federation Handbells have contributed strongly to community involvement in a number of commemorations for the 2009 bushfires over the last five years and it highlights their importance as significant ceremonial instruments for Victorians.
We are looking forward to more big weekends with the Federation Handbells as they continue their important role in Victoria and beyond.

Comments (1)

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Elzbieta B 23 February, 2014 16:56
It is great to hear about the Federation Handbells bringing people together!
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Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.