Bayou Bells

The Bayou Bell Choir has been playing together since 1999 with many of its members having decades of experience on hand bells.

The Bayou Bell Choir, Southwest Louisiana’s community hand bell ensemble, will host three free concerts beginning Friday, May 31, at 6:30 p.m. in Paxton Hall of First United Methodist Church. The concert will feature crowd favorites from the groups’s first 20 years of performances ranging from classical music to classic rock.

“We are able to avail ourselves to a wonderful repertoire of secular pieces that have been arranged for hand bells as well as original compositions,” Bruce Allured, director, said. “It’s gangs of fun,” he said.

Bach, Handel, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Led Zeppelin, Queen and others are among the artist and composers to be heard from the 12-person ensemble.

“People think they know what a hand bell choir sounds like until they hear a good one,” Allured said.

The group has been playing together since 1999 with many of its members with decades of experience on hand bells.

“People come to our concerts for the first time are always agog — taken aback by the musicianship that we’re able to accomplish. It’s a very strange instrument and a very demanding instrument to play properly,” he said.

The group has practiced for four months, sometimes even twice a week for the upcoming performance making it “one of Lake Charles’s best kept secrets,” Allured said.

New audience members will be pleasantly surprised by a true hand bell experience, he said, making more Bayou Bell performances something they’re sure to anticipate in the future.

Free concerts will continue at 3 p.m. June 2 at Welsh First United Methodist Church and 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 6, at the Central School Arts and Humanities Center auditorium. For more information, call 491-9147 or 529-7016.

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