The Newsletter of Area 1 Handbell Musicians of America | Vol. XXXVII No. 5 | October 2022
  • Report from Interim Co-Chairs, including Special Election Results and FC22 Financial Summary
  • Get Ready for Festival Conference 2023
  • Winter Workshop 2023
  • Scholarship Information
  • Covid policy update
  • Notes from State Chairs: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island
  • Our Advertisers
Report from Interim Co-Chairs
Carlene Ruesenberg and Jean Degan
Happy fall, everyone! We're happy to see so many bell programs emerging from the Covid closet and coming back to life. Granted, some are not as robust as they may have been, and unfortunately, some may have folded altogether. We are aware of that, and are here to help get things started up again! In other parts of this newsletter, you will find information about skill building workshops being held in western Massachusetts and in eastern Rhode Island, two locations that have been somewhat underserved in recent years. Thank you to Abby Schoppe and Suzanne Neafus for organizing those!

There are also concerts on the horizon, most notably the FREE Oktobellfest concert on Sunday, October 23 at 1:30pm in the Drill Hall at the Westerly Armory in Westerly, Rhode Island. This event was organized by the New England Ringers and will bring together ringers from all over Area 1 for a weekend of ringing and fun with David Harris, director of the Raleigh Ringers. Come show your support and enjoy a fun-filled afternoon!
We’re happy to announce the results of our recent special election. Congratulations to Jennifer Stack, our newly elected Chair-Elect. At our October 15 Board meeting, Jenn will join the Executive Committee and will serve out the remainder of the term vacated by Colin Nagle. Lisa Arnold will fill in as Chair for the remainder of the ‘22-’23 year, with Carlene Ruesenberg assuming the role of Past Chair. Jean Degan will step down as interim Co-Chair. We will begin the process of holding a regular election right away, with a call for nominations this fall. Those elections will be held in the Spring of 2023. Thank you to everyone who was so helpful in getting us through this unusual time with so many vacancies on the Executive Committee.
We also have some news to share about Festival Conference 2022. Thanks to the amazing show of support by so many of our sponsors and ringers, we were able to close the budget gap considerably. The overwhelming response from everyone in attendance was gratitude that the event was being held. It was reassuring to everyone involved that we had made the right decision. That being said, last March, when we decided to move forward with holding the Festival Conference, the Board was looking at a budget that showed a deficit of over $10,000. Granted, anyone looking at that much of a deficit would have thought it foolish and irresponsible to incur that much of a loss. We honestly thought so, too. But we also have a responsibility to uphold our mission to “advance the musical art of handbell/handchime ringing through education, community and communication”. We believed that our handbell community needed us to help get through the unprecedented difficulties that the COVID-19 pandemic had brought. We were right. Festival Conference was a great jump start to get everyone motivated to play handbells again, and to bring our instrument to audiences all over. We are happy to report that we ended up incurring a deficit of only $2,200, which we will endeavor to make up in the coming year through other fundraisers and events.

For those of you who missed going to Festival Conference 2022, we secured the rights to post a video of the final concert on our website for an entire year. You will be able to find the link on our website,, soon. Thank you, once again, to everyone who helped to put this event together, and thanks to all who took a chance on us and attended. We hope that you will spread the word so that everyone will be excited to attend our Festival Conference in Worcester, Massachusetts in June 2023!

In closing, we are working hard to make sure that you get the most out of your membership in the Handbell Musicians of America. Please check out the events that are happening this fall, and also the Winter Workshop in January. Plan to attend a Spring Ring and Festival Conference! We all benefit from working together, and nobody knows that better than handbell musicians, as together we contribute to a greater whole. Thank you for being a part of it!

Happy ringing,

Carlene Ruesenberg
Jean Degan
Interim Co-Chairs
Get Ready for Festival Conference 2023 - Worcester, Here We Come!
By Lisa Arnold, Chair, Festival Conference 2023

To say that I’m excited about Festival Conference 2023 would be a complete understatement! We have assembled a great team of volunteers and I’m really excited to work with them over the next few months as things start to come together.

We are accepting conference sponsorships now, so if your organization would like to have its logo featured on our festival t-shirts and on signs throughout the campus, as well as being promoted as early sponsors on our website, fill out this form.

Attendee pre-registration opens on October 15th! This year we’ll have limited space on the ringing floor, so be sure to reserve your space early. Ringers will have the opportunity to work with our two amazing clinicians:
Emily Li, our Massed and Tins Clinician, comes to us from Hong Kong where she is the founder and director of the Hong Kong Handbell Academy – an organization that has been teaching children aged 12 and above the artistry of handbells since 2005. Emily is a highly sought-after clinician because of her ability to make every moment a learning experience. While she has been a featured conductor at several National and International events, Area 1 FC 2023 will be Emily’s first Area festival and we’re so lucky to have her!
Matthew Compton, our Bronze and Coppers Clinician, brings his youthful energy and new ideas to Area 1. The joint concert he directed as a part of the Handbell Musicians of America 2021 National Seminar Closing Concert featuring Bells of the Cascades (Portland, OR, Matthew Compton, director) and Cathedral Bells (Orange, CA, Alex Guebert, director) featured a cutting edge performance and flawless musicality. I know he’ll bring that same drive and excitement to the Area 1 ringing floor.
Worcester State University is a brand new venue for Area 1, and it is centrally located at the center of New England. At only 58 acres (seriously, that’s less than .1 <not a typo> square miles!), everything will be very close, allowing plenty of time to travel between rehearsals, classes and meals; you'll even have time to do some shopping in between. But it does mean that the ringing floor is a bit smaller as well, and so we’re also offering a Classes-only option.

Is your full ensemble unable to attend Festival Conference 2023, but you still want the conference experience? Don't have the time to prepare the massed music ahead of time? Aren't ready for the massed ringing experience, but still want to improve your ringing and socialize with other ringers? Then our “Classes-Only” option might be the perfect solution for you! You’ll have the opportunity to learn from familiar Area 1 faculty as well as invited faculty participating from all across the country. A limited number of Classes-Only spots are available.

Keep an eye on our web page for new updates and information as it becomes available:
Area 1 Winter Workshop 2023 - January 27-28
Campus Center at UMass, Amherst

We are back!!! After Covid in 2021 and a winter storm in 2022 prevented us from having our event, we are, indeed, back….. AND with David Harris, Director of Raleigh Ringers!

Join us on Friday, January 27th and Saturday, January 28th at UMass Amherst for an opportunity to meet other handbell ringers and directors, hone your ringing skills while participating in one of two ringing tracks with some great directors and attend a few workshops as well.

This year we are excited to welcome David Harris, director of the well known Raleigh Ringers as our clinician for the popular Distinctly New England ringing track. A second ringing track, Beyond Basics – Before Bronze will be offered for those that would like a chance to ring, but may not be ready to ring at
a more advanced level. This group will be directed by Area 1’s own Diane Burke and Lawrence Berdensey.

Both ringing tracks will begin rehearsing Friday evening after dinner. For each of these ringing opportunities, you will be able to select your ringing preference at registration. You will receive your ringing assignments in early January to allow you an opportunity to purchase your music and look at it ahead of time.

On Saturday we will have both rehearsals and a few workshops which will give everyone an opportunity to work with David Harris as well as other clinicians. There will be a performance on Saturday afternoon at 3:15 when both choirs will perform. If anyone would like to perform a solo or small ensemble for the
concert, please indicate so at registration.

Distinctly New England
This ringing track will be directed by David Harris. This will be an intense ringing experience ringing 3 level 4 and 4+ music with an emphasis on musicality. This gives ringers an opportunity to ring more difficult music than perhaps you do in your church choir and to ring in a multiple choir ensemble.
Dorian Dance by Michael Joy JeffersJHS9365
Coventry Carol by Sandra Eithun JeffersJHS9502
My Strength is from Heaven Above by Humcke Choristers GuildCGB1227

Beyond Basics – Before Bronze
This ringing track will be directed by Diane Burke and Lawrence Berdensey. This group will review basic ringing and conducting techniques with an emphasis on musicality. It gives directors who don’t often have an opportunity to ring, an opportunity to see things from a ringers standpoint. For everyone, this is an opportunity to experience two different teaching styles. For ringers who always ring in the same position, it is a chance to ring in a different position.
Cantabile by Emily Li AGEHR Publishing, AG35244 Optional Handchimes
Ring, Zing, Swing by John Behnke Choristers Guild MCGB904

Once again, we ask people to bring gently used music they no longer ring to share with other choirs who would appreciate having some new music that they may not be able to afford on their own. We will offer two opportunities to ring this music in a repertoire reading session to see if it might be something you could use in your own choir and if you like it, you may take it home.

Scholarships Available
Scholarships are available on a variety of levels for members of the Handbell Musicians of America and the ensembles they direct. If you are in need of financial assistance in order to attend this event, please review the scholarship information and application directions on the scholarship page of the Area 1 website.

Registration for this event will open October 15th. The earlybird price is $170. After December 22nd registration will be $205. There is a block of rooms available at the hotel for $159 each using the code HDS23C. You need to contact the hotel directly at 877-822-2110 to reserve your room. After December 30, 2022 these rooms will be released into the general inventory meaning that rooms and the special rate will not be guaranteed.

Winter Workshop photos, a video and more information is available on the Area 1 website.
Area 1 Scholarships Available!

Did you know that Area 1 offers a variety of scholarships? To read more about them, visit our scholarship page.
Area 1 Updates COVID-19 Policy

On September 11, 2022, the Area 1 Board of Directors voted to update its COVID-19 Policy as it applies to all Area 1 Sponsored Events. You can read the update here.
Suzanne Neafus, Connecticut State Chair
Autumn has arrived, and I am thrilled with all the bell news shared for this article.

On a personal “bell’ note, I’m so excited that my church choir has grown in membership this year. For the first time since 2016, we played a Sunday service with a full 3 octaves. Read below about what other groups have been doing and a few upcoming concert dates.

Please consider joining us at the free Fall Frolic handbell event that will take place on Sat., November 5th, in West Greenwich, RI. More details about this event and a link to the registration form are found in the 'Notes from Rhode Island' section of this newsletter.

Take care –
Suzanne Neafus
Connecticut State Chair
Ringing Around Connecticut:

Spring Handbell Festival, Opportunities for Bell Choirs
The Northeastern Connecticut Chapter of the American Guild of Organists is holding its traditional,
biennial Handbell Festival Concert on March 5th, 7 PM, at St. Mary Roman Catholic Church, in Willimantic, CT. Any bell choir is welcome to join in the festival. Choirs will play 3 pieces jointly (easy L2
or less) and each choir can also perform a piece on their own. During the event, a free will offering will be taken to support the I. Cameron Johnson Memorial Organ Competition for High School students. If your choir is interested in joining, please contact Peggy Hartman at

Ringing News from Middletown Connecticut
First Church in Middletown has added a new beginning handbell choir to its music program and it’s all because of Covid. In 2021 the congregation started meeting in person but still did not sing hymns or have choir rehearsals. Some vocal choir members yearned to do something and wanted to try bells, even though many never played before. They started a beginning bell group to fill in the gap and named it Faith Ringers. They loved it so much that it is now a permanent addition to the church music program, alongside its established Heart in Hand Bells. The group has attracted not only choir members but other church members who were not previously part of their music program.

From the Shoreline Ringers
The Shoreline Ringers kick off their season with an educational program for the Monroe Historical Society on November 6. They are excited to perform as a full ensemble for the North Haven Memorial Library for the first time on December 3 at 2 PM. All events are found at
Shoreline’s quartet is also very active around Thanksgiving with performances at the New London tree lighting on 11/25, the Wethersfield Public Library on 11/26, and the Raymond Library in East Hartford on 12/4. This is just kicking off our holiday season!

Upcoming Concerts for Chime In! Music with a Mission
1. We Sing! Children's Choir of Connecticut Concert
Sunday, November 13, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. at First Church of Bethlehem, CT
We Sing! is an extension of the Chime In! music program. The choir performs fine choral music and the children accompany their singing with handbells, chimes and percussion.
2. Christmas Bells & Apple Crisp
Saturday, December 10, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. at First Church of Bethlehem, CT
Chime In! Handbell Concert teams up with the First Church Missions Committee providing apple crisp following the concert. Church fair starts at 10:00 a.m. and lunch is available.
3. Candlelight & Carols
Sunday, December 11, 2022 at 3:00 p.m. at Valley Presbyterian Church, Brookfield CT
A concert of carols and seasonal music with guest ringers from Valley Presbyterian Church.
The Connecticut Handbell Musicians’ Performance at the Big E
The Connecticut Handbell Musicians have been in existence in some form or fashion since 2015. After not ringing at the Big E for the last 2 summers due to COVID concerns, we had a really great time playing for the audience on Connecticut Day. It’s such a fantastic opportunity for us to get the bells out into the community and for people to hear our instrument possibly for the first time. Many, many thanks to our ringers and to our partners, Chime In! Music with a Mission and Saint Andrew Lutheran in Bristol, for providing administrative assistance, and the use of their music library, instruments and spaces for rehearsals and performance.
If you are interested in continuing to ring over the summer when your home choir takes a break feel
free to reach out - we will offer you a place to stretch and grow regardless of ability. See you next summer!!
Notes from MAINE
Dana Humphreys, Maine State Chair
Hello Maine Ringers!
Massed ringing events are well underway again. Hopefully you will give strong consideration to attending the 2023 Area 1 Festival Conference at Worcester State University next June.

And now, pull out your handbell calendar and add the 2024 Maine Spring Ring set for April 27, 2024! We are excited to announce our two directors. Michael Joy, a nationally known director and composer, will be directing Coppers, and Joy Toll-Chandler, from our own state of Maine, will be directing Tins. Mike and Joy will share the directing of massed pieces.

Michael lives in Philadelphia and has been directing handbell choirs since 1978. He studied handbells with Donald Allured and handbell composition with Arnold Sherman. He is currently the middle school music teacher at The Shipley School where he conducts 15 (!) different handbell groups. Michael is a published composer and has taught at HMA Area Festivals and state conferences. He was named Composer of the Year for 2004 by Jeffers Publishing Company for his composition “Dorian Dance.” Mike says Maine is one of his favorite states to visit and we are thrilled he enthusiastically accepted our invitation.

Joy has been playing and directing handbells since 2000. She has advanced education in music, has
composed two pieces for handbell choirs published by AGEHR and is accredited as a faculty instructor
for Level 1 Handbell Certification Theory and Conducting. Joy recently retired to Maine and is the new
handbell choir director at the Cumberland Congregational Church.

We will be working to plan an exciting and entertaining event and will be looking to our Maine ringers to
tell us what you’d like to see in a reenergized Maine Spring Ring 2024. Stay tuned!

All the best,
Abigail Schoppe, Massachusetts State Chair
Are you ready, Massachusetts? We have SO MANY handbell events coming up in our state during the year ahead!

First, looking ahead to October 15, First Congregational Church of Hadley is offering a skill-building workshop sponsored by Area 1. Twenty-two individuals are already registered to attend, and I know several more have expressed interest! I do anticipate capping registration at around 40, so if you are interested in attending this event, you should register sooner rather than later. Below is
all the info:
Western MA Skill-Building Workshop, Saturday, Oct. 15, 8:15 AM-3 PM
Clinicians: Lawrence Berdensey & Diane Burke
Location: First Congregational Church of Hadley, 102 Middle Street, Hadley, MA
Registration is now open at
Join us on October 15, to review skills, build fellowship, and read through some of the Festival Conference repertoire in a relaxed environment! Attendees of ALL skill levels are welcome!
  • 8:15-9:00: Registration and setup
  • 9:00-12:00: Technique review & ringing massed repertoire
  • 12:00-1:00: Lunch (bring your own or go out & explore Hadley!)
  • 1:00-3:00: Breakout workshop sections
You don't need to purchase or practice repertoire in advance, but if you do choose to, we will be ringing the following pieces:
  • Cathy Moklebust's "Amen Siakudumisa" Choristers Guild, CGB1036 (for 2-3 oct) or Choristers Guild, CGB1037 (for 3-6 oct).
  • Matt Compton's "Divenire" AGEHR Publishing, AG36057
  • Emily Li's "Cantabile" AGEHR Publishing, AG35244
Repertoire will be available the day of the workshop to borrow (free!) or purchase (total of $15.95 for the three pieces). This event is FREE (though you are welcome to make a free-will donation) for HMA members and non-members alike. Invite your friends!


Next, looking farther ahead to MA Spring Ring 2023, all of the details have now been finalized, as listed below. In particular, please note that the date has been moved from April 1 to April 15, due to unavoidable constraints on the part of our venue.
2023 Massachusetts Spring Ring
WHEN: April 22, 2023, 10 AM to 5 PM
WHERE: Tewksbury Memorial High School, Tewksbury, MA
CLINICIANS: Karen Leonard and Ed Henderson

  • Massed: "Song of Assurance" by Arnold Sherman (2-5 oct). (2-3 octave version, CGB604, for Tins, and 3-5 octave version, CGB605 for Coppers.) Full score at CGB603.
  • Massed (optional for Coppers): "Amen Siakudumisa" by Cathy Moklebust (2-6 oct bells + optional chimes, L2, with optional auxiliary percussion). Choristers Guild CGB1036 (for 2-3 oct) or Choristers Guild CGB1037 (for 3-6 oct).
  • Massed (optional for Tins): "Divenire" by Matthew Compton (3-6 oct bells + optional chimes, L2+). AGEHR Publishing, AG36057
  • Coppers: "Ride On" by Brenda Austin (3-6 oct, L3). Lorenz LC202102L


I am very excited to share that we also anticipate offering a Cape Cod Spring Ring in 2023, for the first time since 2016. Really, we should call it a Cape and Islands Spring Ring, since one choir planning to attend is from Martha’s Vineyard! A committee of interested directors has been assembled, and while details are not yet final, it is likely that Cape Cod Spring Ring will occur on April 15 in Harwich. Stay tuned for more details – and if you are a ringer or director on the Cape who wants to be included in some of the planning and who isn’t already receiving my many emails about this event, please don’t hesitate to let me know!


Finally, Massachusetts will be the host location for both Winter Workshop 2023 (to be held at UMass Amherst, as it has been for the past several years) and Festival Conference 2023 (to be held at Worcester State University). Registration for Winter Workshop AND pre-registration for Festival Conference both open on October 15. While these events will draw attendees from throughout New England and beyond, I hope we’ll have a strong showing from many of you here in MA!

I can’t wait to see you at one or more of these events! Until then, happy ringing!

Abby Schoppe
MA State Chair
Suzanne Neafus, Rhode Island State Chair
Greetings, Rhode Island Ringers –
Autumn has arrived. Along with the change in season, there has been a change in leadership. Beginning this month, I will cover both Connecticut and Rhode Island in my position as state chair.
A quick summary about myself: I began my passion for ringing as a teen on Long Island. After my move to Connecticut about 25 years ago, I played with various church and community groups across the state. Currently, I ring with the Wethersfield United Methodist Church and the Hockanum Valley Ringers. I have been the Area 1 Connecticut State Chair since Sept 2020.
I welcome you to reach out and introduce yourself, and we can set up a Zoom chat if you like.
Please consider joining us at the free Fall Frolic handbell event that will take place on Sat., November 5th, in West Greenwich, RI, from 9 AM to 12 noon. All are welcome – register here.

I am always interested in hearing what your groups are doing and any upcoming concert dates. Please
let me know so I can share this information in future Fundamental Tone articles.
Thank you and take care -
Suzanne Neafus
Connecticut State Chair
Covering CT and RI
New Hampshire: Kim Whitehead,
Vermont: Pat Pranger,
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