The International Handbell Committee
The International Handbell Committee was formed in 1990 to set standards and goals for the biannual International Handbell Symposium. The committee is made up of the presidents and other representatives of the six guilds that currently share in hosting the event – The Handbell Ringers of Japan, The Handbell Society of Australasia, the Korean Handbell Association, The Handbell Guilds of Canada, The Handbell Ringers of Great Britain, and Handbell Musicians of America. Deborah Rice, former Guild president, serves as Executive Director of IHC.
International Handbell Committee – Mission Statement
The Mission Statement of the International Handbell Committee is the promotion of the art of handbell ringing throughout the world. We, the International Handbell Committee, share a passion for the love of music expressed through handbells. As the International Committee dedicated to this art, we articulate our vision for the future to promote:
- communication between nations,
- handbells as a musical art,
- world peace through the spirit of music.
The International Handbell Symposium
Originating in 1988, the International Handbell Symposium is the opportunity for handbell ringers and directors from around the world to come together and share a first-class musical experience that goes beyond the boundaries of language. Symposium takes place every two years, the location rotating between the six current member counties: Australasia, Canada, Great Britain, Japan, Korea and the United States.
Ringers from these countries and more meet with the shared goal of fostering better communication between ringers of the member nations, maintaining high musical standards of ringing and performance, and encouraging continued interaction between countries. The event features rehearsals and performances by as many as 1,000 ringers at one time under the batons of top handbell conductors from around the world. In addition, a series of concerts featuring individual choirs from each country are offered throughout the event as well as classes focusing on handbell techniques, cultural awareness, repertoire, and much more.
Handbells were first introduced to Japan by a missionary named M. I. Kelly, who came to teach at the Kinjo-Gakuin School in Nagoya. At first, there was little interest. Then, in 1976, Handbell Ringers of Japan (HRJ) was formed. When HRJ began promoting handbells, interest increased. This led to the large number of handbell choirs present in Japan today.
Each year, sets of handbells are donated to schools for blind and deaf children, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and various other institutions. This spirit of giving has sustained HRJ since its founding. The HRJ believes that handbells are the instrument of peace that link people and connect countries throughout the world.
HRJ telephone number +81-3-5395-1760
The first handbell festival, or rally, in the southern hemisphere (and the second in the eastern hemisphere) was held in 1981, in South Australia. At the third festival in Sydney, in 1983, the Handbell Society of Australasia was formed. The first International Handbell Symposium in the southern hemisphere was held in Adelaide, Australia in July of 1994. The purpose of the Society is to further the art of handbell ringing in all of its facets,including tune ringing and change ringing and all types of handbells.
The first Korean Handbell Assocation (KHA) handbell workshop and festival was held in 1985, with similar workshops being held each year since that time. The first handbell concert was held in 1988, with similar concerts held each year. In 1990, KHA hosted the fourth International Handbell Symposium.
The Handbell Guilds of Canada is an umbrella organization of the provincial handbell guilds across Canada, including the organizations listed below.
The Alberta Guild of English Handbell Ringers is a not-for-profit organization which provides opportunities for artistic development of Albertans through the sharing, encouragement, and appreciation of quality English Handbell Ringing.
The British Columbia Guild of English Handbell Ringers (BCGEHR) was founded 1993 in Abbotsford, BC. The Constitution and By-Laws were adopted in Vancouver in 1994, and the BCGEHR incorporated as a not-for-profit organization under the British Columbia Societies Act in January 1995. The goals of the BCGEHR are to bring together handbell ringers from all choirs on an “inter-generational” basis and to sponsor workshops for ringers and directors. They publish a newsletter called QUARTER NOTES. At present, there are 107 members, including three Life Members. They represent 17 provincial choirs.
At a 1995 Workshop/Festival, directors expressed their intention and desire to form the Manitoba Guild of English Handbell Ringers in the Province.
Formed in 1985, the Ontario Guild of English Handbell Ringers (OGEHR) exists to promote Handbell Ringing in Ontario. OGEHR’s objectives are to bring handbell ringers in contact with each other for the purpose of exchanging ideas,assisting newly-formed choirs, providing a forum for discussion, and to promote the practical advancement of the art of handbell ringing. OGEHR currently has over 100 choirs representing an estimated 1200 ringers. They have sponsored a festival every second year in varying locations and, in addition to the festivals, they sponsor an annual Directors’ Workshop and localized mini-festivals and workshops.
Handbell Ringers of Great Britain
Handbell Ringers of Great Britain was founded in 1967 with the sole aim of promoting music making on handbells. It is the only national organization devoted to tune ringing on musical handbells, and Belleplate and handchime ringing in all its forms.
The South East Region also has a website: HRGB South East Region