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It’s Showtime!

Previous Posts By guest blogger, PL Grove The three showcase concerts at the 18th International Handbell Symposium in Cairns had elegance, pizzazz, costumes, fun, and a few other surprises. The first concert was held on Tuesday afternoon, soon after the start of the...

The Cultural Experience

Previous Posts Cultural Excursion A big part of every International Handbell Symposium is the opportunity to learn more about the culture of the host country. For Australia, that meant a visit to Rainforestation Nature Park located in the Kuranda Rain Forest just a...

IHS Workshops

Previous Posts It's Workshop Day at IHS! From guest blogger, PL Grove It's the first of two workshop days at the International Handbell Symposium, and while that means a little bit more chaos (as bells and foam gets schlepped around), it also means more fun! The day...

IHS 2018 – Youth Festival

Previous Posts The 18th International Handbell Symposium is hosted by the Handbell Society of Australasia in the city of Cairns, Queensland in the far northeast region of Australia. Founded through the joint efforts of David Davidson of Handbell Musicians of America...

The International Handbell Committee & Opening Ceremonies

by | Aug 7, 2018 | Symposium Blog

The IHC Meeting

The International Handbell Committee meets prior to each Symposium to discuss matters related to the IHC Mission.  Each IHC member guild is represented at the meeting by the chair or president of that guild often supported by a 2nd representative from their guild’s board of directors or their executive director, if they have one. The meeting is chaired by the IHC Executive Director, or their designate.  The IHC Executive Director is a volunteer position, appointed by a vote of the IHC guild representatives. The executive director is responsible for continuing the business of the IHC, facilitating communication between IHC members, and providing general support to the IHS planning committee between meetings.  The Executive Director also prepares the agenda and supporting materials for each IHC meeting.

At the request of the current Executive Director, Sun Joo Shin of HRJ, this year’s meeting was chaired by Carmel Daveson of HSA.  Topics covered during the meeting included the following:

  • Sustainability of the IHS
  • Creation of a set of recommendations and resources for Symposium planning teams
  • Adapting the rotation of host countries to accommodate the addition of Handbell Ringers of Singapore to the committee
  • Utilization of the IHC website,, as the central point of information about the committee and future IHS events
  • Appointment of the next IHC Executive Director who will assume responsibilities immediately following the IHS in Hong Kong in 2020
  • Receive information from HAHK about their plans for the 19th International Handbell Symposium in Hong Kong in 2020.

This was my 6th IHC meeting since becoming Executive Director of HMA, and was one of the most productive meetings I’ve attended.  The committee had some of its most in-depth discussions about the above topics and made important decisions about the future of IHC and IHS.  I am not able to share specifics until the meeting minutes are distributed to IHC members and approved.  However, I have much more confidence about the future of this committee after this meeting.

The Opening Ceremonies

A tradition at each Symposium are the opening ceremonies.  The ceremony begins with a procession of flags representing the 8 member guilds of the IHC.  This year, the flag-bearer for HMA was Joyce Miller who accompanied HMA president PL Grove in the procession. This is followed by welcome speeches and the official opening chord, rung the presidents or chairs or each IHC member and the IHC executive director.

This year, we had the additional treat of some wonderful musical performances from Australian youth.  First, a combined group of youth choristers from St. Monica’s and St. Augustine’s Colleges in Cairns performed a fun arrangement of Waltzing Matilda.  A wonderful welcome to Australia through song.  This was followed by a procession of youth handbell musicians with spoken text “We Are the Ringers of Bells” – a grand reminder of who we are and why we ring.  Finally, the biggest treat of the evening, a joint performance by the youth handbell musicians and youth choristers of a new work commissioned by HSA for this purpose, A Prayer for Mother Earth. The composer, David Hamilton, is from New Zealand and had never written for handbells before. The composition also incorporated a variety of Maori instruments.  Watch the performance below.

The Opening Ceremonies is also the first opportunity to see international friends who attend these events every two years.  It never ceases to amaze me how quickly handbell musicians form life-long friendships after just 4-5 days of ringing together.  Our common passion for this instrument connects us across multiple boundaries.