Monday, November 21, 2011

Sequel to an Obituary

ARC Handbell Choir, Westwood
Originally uploaded by pennylrichardsca

More than five years ago, I wrote about Dixie Henrikson here, after seeing her obituary in the Los Angeles Times. Henrikson (d. 2006) was one of those mid-20th-century mothers of a disabled child who was tireless in founding programs--in her case, social activities for young adults with developmental disabilities. One of her prides was the English-style handbell choir she founded, which performed a lot in Los Angeles.

Well... five years later, I happened upon that handbell choir Mrs. Henrikson founded, as guest performers at a play day in an accessible playground in Westwood. What fascinated me was the adapted score the conductor used (in the image above), which was devised by Dixie Henrikson herself. The choir of adults are not, mostly, able to read music, so the usual format won't work. The conductor told us that she has to transcribe tunes into this system's boxes of letters and colors, and transfer those transcripts to plastic window shades, so they're both large enough for the ringers to see during a performance, and sturdy enough to last through years of use. By demonstrating how the score works, the conductor made the choir not so "tricky"--oh, the audience can say, it's not magic or charm, it's a clever adaptation that supports the players where they are.

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