Harris, a computer geek in his day job, started ringing at age 14 at his Lock Haven, Pa., church. When he founded the Ringers in 1990, most of the group's performances were in churches. Now they travel coast-to-coast selling out concert halls.
The RR's bell collection includes bronze, brass and aluminum bells, and a ringer may use as many as 20 different bells in a single number. Some of the aluminum bells resemble large lampshades. Ringing at this level is not a job for lightweights. Many of the bronze bells weigh more than 10 pounds, with the heavyweight F sharp weighing in at 17 1/2 pounds. During fast-moving numbers, the ringers have to move their hands at three-card-Monte speed to keep time during rings and bell switches.
The musicians are as diverse as its music. Take Whole Foods pastry chef and former Missouri pig farmer Kevin Dietzschold of Cary, who's happy to be part of the grind that includes at least one practice a week and lots of road trips.
"You get anywhere from 13 to 16 people trying to be one instrument," he says.
For information about The Raleigh Ringers and to listen to their music, visit www.rr.org