The IHOS Music Theatre and Opera’s Prayer Bells will be chiming in St Stephen’s Uniting Church on Friday 14 October to give Sydneysiders an exclusive chance to hear dozens of handbells originally cast for Australia’s Centenary of Federation.

This one-off show will feature three solo cantors and a small male choir with the concert piece that premiered at the Federation Festival of Melbourne in 2001. Since then the show has travelled across Australia with stopovers in Launceston, Canberra, Adelaide, Melbourne and Hobart.

Composer and IHOS artistic director Constantine Koukias said that in composing this production it was a joy to bring a contemporary vision to ancient traditions.

The bells were specially cast in Castlemaine Foundry in Victoria. What I needed was bells pitched between the white and black notes of the piano, because that’s the musical language of the chant. They’re called quarter-tone bells, and as far as I know I’m the first composer to combine such bells with chants, he said.

Prayer Bells is about peace and tolerance -” goodness knows we can use a bit of that right now. But honestly, its main attraction is that it’s just plain beautiful to listen to.

However much you might think you know what a chant sounds like, I promise you’ll be totally rapt when you hear it live, resonating through the church, with these marvellous handbells drawing together the liquid purity of the male voices.

info: Tickets for Prayer Bells start at $27.50. Bookings on 1800 001 190 or

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