Published April 17. 2013 4:00AM
Norwich - Kevin Harkins didn't mind waiting a moment before launching the CD release event Tuesday for "Ring Out Rose City," a collection of the sounds of more than 100 city bells large and small.
About a dozen people who had gathered to celebrate the culmination of the three-year project stood silently outside Central Baptist Church to hear the City Hall clock tower bell strike 10, followed immediately by the newly restored Central Baptist bell in its distinctly different tone.
That signaled former Connecticut troubadour Tom Callinan to open the celebration with his "Bells of Norwich" song - the only vocal recording on the new CD.
The Friends of the Norwich Bells, founded in April 2010, set out to record as many Norwich bells as possible. But the Central Baptist bell didn't make it onto the CD; the bell had gone silent for five years, the Rev. Nancy Forsstrom told the gathering, because its structural framework was failing.
Repairs were completed in time for it to ring again on Dec. 21 for the statewide memorial bell ringing service for the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims. The church now rings its bell on the hour and prior to Sunday church services.
"We started getting calls from neighbors," she said. "Every single person who called said it was wonderful to hear the bells again."
Harkins, president of the Friends group, hopes that sentiment is widespread in Norwich and will show with support for the nonprofit bell project. Sales of the $15 CD will help fund bell repairs throughout the city.
Proceeds from the first 300 CDs sold will go to St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Greeneville. Harkins hopes to donate $2,000 to repair the 100-year-old steel bell imported from Russia for the church's 100th anniversary this summer. The church needs $4,500 to remount and repair the bell.
CDs are on sale at Lazizah Bake Shop in Yantic, the Slater Memorial Museum gift shop, the Leffingwell House Museum and Otis Library. Within a month, the group hopes to have mechanisms in place to sell the CD on its website, www.friendsofthenorwichbells.com.