Blue Ridge Bells Perform at Jamestown Celebration

By Jeanie Allen

The 14-member handbell choir from C.F. Richards Junior Academy in Staunton, Va., performed a concert at the Heritage Stage for America's 400th Anniversary celebration in Jamestown, Va. on Sunday, May 13. The Blue Ridge Bells, directed by Patti Short, performed a 30-minute concert for the many festival attendees at America's Anniversary Weekend. The musical selections included a wide range of patriotic, sacred, and spiritual arrangements. 

Several other participating musicians commented they had never heard handbells perform with such energy and excitement. "It was invigorating to hear the boisterous applause," said handbell member Mollye Coon. 

"It was exciting and moving to see and hear President Bush," said long-time handbell member Jessica Eberly. "It was especially fun to see him direct the 400-piece orchestra playing 'Stars and Stripes Forever' for the few measures," Eberly reminisced. "The 1,607-member choir and the 400-piece orchestra was awgdesome to hear—performing a heartrending rendition of 'America the Beautiful'," said Eberly. 

"I enjoyed playing at the event," said handbell member Melissa Allen, "and I'm glad I was part of America's 400th Anniversary celebration. This happens once in a lifetime and is something I will remember forever."