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Sunday, July 14, 2024
Ring those bells: St. Mark’s celebrates summer long weekends
Bernadette Secco, seen in the St. Mark’s church belfry, will present contemporary music on the bells, each Sunday of the three summer long weekends. The first concert is this Sunday, June 30. FILE PHOTO

Chiming series returns starting this Sunday at noon

 

Almost 200 years ago, about 90 local townspeople raised enough money to mount a single bell in the belfry at historic St. Mark’s Anglican Church.

The town craved a steeple bell to announce important community happenings and sound the alarm in times of calamity.

Now 19 bells, the St. Mark’s chime set is considered among the finest in Canada.

Beginning this Sunday, June 30, at noon, the St. Mark’s chimes will once again come alive with contemporary music — the first of three free chiming concerts offered by the church this summer. 

“I hope everyone will bring a lawn chair and lunch,” says Leighton Lee, rector of St. Mark’s.

“Bring some friends, spread out on our beautiful lawns and hear our wonderful bells ringing out over the rooftops.”

The other free noon-hour concerts also are on Sundays — Aug. 4 and Sept.  1 — in the churchyard at St. Mark’s, 41 Byron St. Rain or shine.

The audience is encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets for the casual concert. Each Sunday will highlight a different repertoire.

For the second year, the chiming concerts will be performed by well-known local chimer Bernadette Secco.

“I sit high in the belfry with the bells right above me,” said Secco.

“So, the music almost overpowers me. But I have no idea how the audience is reacting,” she said.

“It’s wonderful after the concert to visit in the churchyard with all the people who have gathered to hear these wonderful bells on a peaceful summer afternoon.”

For the first concert Secco will continue the theme from the June 6 D-Day commemoration — music from various Canadian military campaigns, from privateers in 1778 to the Second World War.

“I’m particularly fond of ‘The Bold Canadian,’ written shortly after Gen. Brock sailed from Niagara and forced the Americans to surrender Fort Detroit. This song was very popular and helped recruit troops and militia men to sign up during the War of 1812.”

Secco chimes every chance she gets. Her varied and extensive repertoire encompasses hymns, show tunes, traditional and patriotic songs, and classical music. She arranges most of the music she plays.

The bells of St. Mark’s have grown in number and stature to become one of the three largest chimes in Ontario. And it’s certainly the largest in any small parish church.

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