ORANGE CITY – One of Japan’s leading handbell choirs is returning to northwest Iowa, and will perform Friday, July 26 at the Northwestern College Christ Chapel.
The Glee Handbell Choir from Meiji Gakuin Higashimurayama High School in Tokyo, tours the United States biennially, and last performed in Orange City in 2011. On July 26, the concert will be held at 7:30pm.
The handbell choir has been part of the ministry of Meiji Gakuin since 1981, and earlier the school had a glee club, which also toured the States as part of a home stay program. Rev. Norimichi Odate, current exchange program director, was one of the members of the glee club in 1975, and later became a Northwestern College student, graduating in 1980. Ron Korver began the school’s exchange program, said Odate.
Directors of the Glee Handbell Choir are Mr. Takanobu Onoda and Mr. Kazuyoshi Inagaki.
The choir has performed for enthusiastic audiences in the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA, at the Handbell Exploration in Phoenix, and on television and radio in Japan.
This year the choir includes 14 young ladies, who will be staying in homes in northwest Iowa July 25 – 28, including Sioux Center and Orange City. Their five-week tour begins July 19, and takes them to Minneapolis, Worthington, Philadelphia, Omaha, Pella, Cedar Grove, WI, Lafayette, IN, Hudsonville, MI, Auburn, CA and San Francisco. The choir members will present concerts, sightsee, and get acquainted with American culture via host families. “The choir is here to show our school’s appreciation to the host families, host churches and contact people,” said Odate.
The choir will also present a concert at Carmel Reformed Church on Sunday, July 28 at 7:00pm, and tentatively at the Sioux Center mall on Saturday, July 27. In Orange City, the choir members will also tour Northwestern College. The concert July 26 is sponsored by Northwestern College Intercultural Affairs and the Orange City Arts Council.
No admission will be charged for the concert, but a freewill offering will be received to assist with the school’s 2015 tour, and for maintenance of the handbells.
For more information, contact coordinators Janet and John Renes of Sioux Center (712-722-0327), Northwestern College Intercultural Affairs (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the Orange City Arts Council (712-707-4885, ocArts@orangecityiowa.com).
Photos from the 2011 Glee Handbell Choir residency here: