by Ken Tilger, Band Education Specialist –
Words we’ve used in previewing countless yearly arrangements of the Ukrainian Bell Carol (including medleys) resulting in our secret wish for a temporary moratorium on its use.
Words that describe our excitement and enthusiasm upon hearing Robert Buckley’s Let the Bells Ring! (based on the Ukrainian Bell Carol) that made it a guaranteed Stanton’s Staff Selection at first listen. It is proof that no matter how overused a piece of music is, the right amount of musical originality can perk the ears up with excitement and rekindle joy in the original.
A wonderful mix of original ideas combined with the traditional work, Let the Bells Ring is a rhapsodic fantasy that includes tips of the hat to the Canadian Brass (use of a shortened phrase), Tran-Siberian Orchestra (explosive energy), and Mannheim Steamroller (Latin/pop style), all wrapped up in an orchestration that features EVERY section of the ensemble. With woodwind flourishes and bombastic full brass statements, Buckley makes great use of playing both family and sectional timbres off each other. Melodic statements, technical passages, and countermotion fly from section to section throughout the band, horns and low brass included! Bell tone punctuations in the winds and a mix of even, triplet, and multi-beat rhythms and syncopation add plenty of excitement and variety. You truly need horses in every section and sufficient rehearsal time to pull this one together! Compositionally it is perfect – recognizable and true to the original yet with enough variation of style and concept to make it interesting. Let the Bells Ring! is perfect as an attention-getting concert opener (you may need to play through another full piece before your concert to be sufficiently warmed-up) or climactic closer (be sure there’s enough gas left in the tank!), advanced bands will have a blast performing it. It may well be the last version of Ukrainian Bell Carol you ever need to add to your library, and one that we cannot recommend more!
Stanton’s Also Recommends –
by Robert Buckley: Codebreaker, Fantasy on the Huron Carol, Iditarod, Smoke and Mirrors
New for Christmas: And All the Bells on Earth Shall Ring, And Heaven and Nature Ring!, A Festive Holiday Greeting, Oh, What Fun
About the Author:
Ken is a former band director, and has been with Stanton’s since 2004. He always feels the urge to read Edgar Allan Poe, the original novels featuring traditional Hollywood monsters, and other macabre tales this time of year, yet never does.