/ `han(d)- bel / | noun. | An instrument used to express joy through ringing
In 1988, the University of Notre Dame Campus Ministry departement first purchased a small set of Schulmerich bells. Thirty years later, the choir has expanded to cover more than five full octaves, providing music ministry to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the South Bend community, and parishes around the United States.
The ensemble consists of two choirs: the Coppers and the Bronze. Directed by Karen Schneider-Kirner, the Bronze choir consist of 14 experienced ringers who regularly play at Basilica Masses. In 2014, they traveled to Toronto and Motereal to visit parishes and pilgrimage sites established by the Congregation of the Holy Cross, the order which founded Notre Dame. In 2017, they traveled to China to perform at the inauguration of Notre Dame’s Beijing Global Gateway in China in addition to playing at Peking and Chengdu Universities and various cathedrals. They have also toured extensively in the U.S., most recently visiting New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, and Tennessee. Their unique tours include solo pieces, hymns and psalms which the audience can sing along to, and collaboration with various instrumentalists. Members of the group have also composed hundreds of pieces for the choir.
The Coppers are a new choir, founded in Fall 2017. The group is primarily made up of beginner ringers who are expressing their love for music in a new way. The Coppers group focusses on learning how to play hand bells and plays regularly at dorm Masses.
Most recently, both choirs toured through the Midwest making stops in Chicago, southern Wisconsin, St. Paul, and Iowa in the Spring of 2019.