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29 August 2017

Three libraries across regional and outer metro Victoria are set to become custodians of the Federation Handbells, in a bid to make these historic instruments more accessible to the public.

A 'Welcome' Project Performance

A 'Welcome' Project Performance

The Federation Handbells are crafted musical instruments created as a public art project to celebrate the Centenary of Federation in 2001. They are part of a suite of bells commissioned by the Victorian Government, which includes the Federation Bells at Birrarung Marr.

As part of the Federation Bells project, physicist Neil McLachlan and sculptor Anton Hasell created over 2,000 handbells which can be played individually or in the style of a xylophone. The handbells formed 80 musical sets, each of which consists of 24 bells and covers two chromatic piano octaves.

Since their creation, the Federation Handbells have been held in trust by Museums Victoria and distributed on request to musicians, schools, orchestras and community groups across the state. In total, more than 750,000 people have engaged with the handbells as performers or audience members since 2001.

Now, the Handbells will travel even further, with sets arriving at local libraries in Whittlesea, Frankston and Bendigo.

Whittlesea Library, Frankston Library and Bendigo Library will act as Hubs for the Federation Handbells, creating convenient local access points for borrowers outside the metropolitan area.

The Hubs will also host workshops and programs developed and delivered by Museums Victoria to educate and inspire rich community experiences with the bells.

To celebrate the launch of the Federation Handbells Hubs today, musician Karen Berger worked with Grade 5 Students from Whittlesea Primary School to create a musical theatre experience with the Handbells, based on the Platypus Story as told by Wurrundjeri Elder, Ian Hunter.

At the launch, it was announced that three more Federation Handbells Hubs will be established by June 2019.

Read more about the Federation Bells