NATHAN FLEMING | Scroll Photography

Bells on Temple Square plays handbells

NATHAN FLEMING | Scroll Photography

NATHAN FLEMING | Scroll Photography

The Bells on Temple Square, a musical group, which is a part of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, performed a concert in the Ruth Barrus Concert Hall Friday, April 24.

“I’m a big fan of the Tabernacle Choir,” said Gary Bernard, a junior studying English education. “I really like anything that has to do with the choir, so I like that they have the affiliation with them.”

The Bells on Temple Square is a handbell choir of 28 musicians that accompanies some of the concerts and recordings of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, according to the choir’s website.

“For bells, it’s going to be like the ultimate bell experience, I think,” Bernard said.

The Bells on Temple Square was organized in 2005 after receiving a donation of a 7-octave set of English handbells, a 6½-octave set of handbells and two 6-octave sets of hand chimes, according to

“I’ve watched a lot of their Christmas shows and the bell choir is part of it,” said Bernard. “The Bells on Temple Square is just a big deal.”

Blair and Leni Moncur, who are both local residents of Ririe, Idaho, attended the concert.

Leni Moncur said they had a wonderful experience.

“I like it when they put on the gloves and kind of ham it up a little so it’s not so classic and not so straight,” Blair Moncur said.

The bell choir’s main director, LeAnna Willmore, said she was a high school choir director for 39 years before becoming the director of the bell choir.

She said she worked at four different high schools and started bell choirs at three of them.

“Ten years ago, when they started the Bells on Temple Square, I was appointed the associate director, and four years ago, I was appointed to be the main director,” Willmore said. “So, that’s how I got started. I had some experience. They knew I had the experience. I was kind of led to it.”

The bell choir is a dedicated ensemble, Willmore said. They rehearse once a week regularly, twice a week as they approach a concert, and every night the week of a concert. Members in the group must maintain 90 percent attendance or they are removed from the choir. They are only allowed absences for special family matters.

“We do the most advanced repertoire written for bells,” Willmore said. “That’s level six, and we play the most advanced that you can find.”

Jennifer Allen, a junior studying music education who played violin with the bell choir, said she thinks that playing with this prestigious group could open new doors for her.

“It kind of amazes me how many different sounds they can make just with a bell,” Allen said.

Willmore said she is looking forward to performing and traveling more as they branch out to perform a little farther than the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

“To some degree, these are not just musicians, but magicians as well,” said Jon Rowberry, assistant to the president of Bells of Temple Square.

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