Arsis Handbell Ensemble Triumphs in Toronto
Eestlased Kanadas 28 Jul 2012  EWR
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The stellar performance of the eight member professional Arsis ensemble from Estonia coupled with the witty repartee of Artistic Director Aivar Mäe provided the audience with a thoroughly memorable musical evening at the Toronto Estonian House this past Wednesday. Mäe served as master of ceremonies and engaged the audience with short and humorous anecdotes in Estonian as he introduced each piece.

The high caliber world-traveled ensemble on their “Awake, My Heart!” tour dazzled the public with the musicians’ fast-paced dexterity and precision as they switched from bell to bell, often reaching in front of fellow ensemble members to effortlessly grasp and play a desired instrument.

A variety of bells ranged in size from the traditional looking two-foot tall bass bells hanging in rows from a sturdy 10-foot high frame to ones placed on tables with bells the size of one’s palm. The group even incorporated wind chimes into their repertoire.

The Arsis ensemble played mainly arrangements of a variety of well-known classical pieces and Estonian folk songs, but also mesmerized the audience singing two songs a capella.

The ensemble shared the stage with world renowned Canadian guitar virtuoso Rémi Boucher, who pleased the audience both in a seamless collaboration with the bell-ringers and with his soulful and passionate solo performances.

The Toronto performance was part of a North American tour that began in the United States. After Toronto, the group has yet to perform a concert in Lindsay, Ontario and then two performances in the province of Québec.

Arsis started as a chamber choir in 1990 and ceased in 1997, but not before winning first place prizes at both the Cork and Cantonigros International Choral Festivals. The Arsis Handbell Ensemble evolved from the choir and today boasts one of the most perfect bell sets in the world. It includes 7+ 4-octave sets of handbells and 7-octave sets of handchimes. The ensemble has toured extensively in Europe, Africa and North America.

The Arsis Handbell School is established in both Tallinn and Tartu, Estonia, with more than 300 students.

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