Kipp Miller | The Echo
Ringers, Taylor's hand bell choir, and Adoration Chorus, Taylor's all-women choir, are planned to be replaced by a new ensemble next year.
Eva Kwan, assistant professor of music and director of Taylor Ringers, made the announcement to the bell choir on Tuesday, April 2, that their ensemble will be cut next semester. The students were surprised by this announcement.
"They pulled the rug out from under us in some ways," freshman Mandi Hall said.
The confused Ringers decided to find out what was going on. Sophomore Drew Anderson approached Professor of Music Christopher Bade to ask about the change. Bade told Anderson the music department was looking to add more diversity to Taylor's music program.
The department is removing these groups to make room in the curriculum for a world choir, which will feature a wind ensemble and vocals performing various traditional music from different cultures. The world choir will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the 5:00 p.m. time slot during which Ringers currently practice.
Kwan declined to comment on the curriculum change.
Hall feels it would make sense to replace an all-girls choir with something more diverse. She wonders why the department would choose to cut Ringers.
"We add diversity, right?" Hall said. "Hand bells is its own instrument."
The bell choir consists of 13 students. After rehearsals on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the group gets dinner together at the LaRita Boren Student Center. The conversation at these meals has focused on a petition to save the bells since the announcement.
Senior Ellen Adle has been a large advocate of keeping Ringers. The students' first goal is to save the bells, which the music department plans to sell. If they can keep the bells, the Ringers would like to become student-led next year, as Gospel Choir is.
Junior Amanda Fleischmann, the student officer for Taylor Ringers, was told of the change earlier than the other students. On Friday, March 29, while the bell choir was on an outing, Kwan pulled Fleischmann aside to tell her about the change. Kwan waited to tell the rest of the ensemble until after the tour to not damper the weekend.
While she understands the music department's desire to go in a new direction, Fleischmann feels torn about the change. She thought back to her home church, where she originally played handbells, that has since removed their bell choir. She also thinks about other schools and churches that have cut hand bells from their programs.
Fleischmann was saddened to hear that Ringers would be cut. She thinks the bell choir is a great group of students with a good opportunity to make music together. She believes that removing the ensemble will be a missed opportunity.
"We just love the bells and love the community it provides," Fleischmann said. "It's such a small, close-knit group and we're each necessary for each part we play."