This Month

Celebrate our Diamond Jubilee with Commemorative Handbell

Have You Got Talent?

Davidson Composition Contest Deadline Approaching

Music Notes from John Behnke

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National Elections are coming up soon. This is your chance to help choose the people who will continue guiding our organization toward the future.

Be sure to look for the January/February issue of Overtones for candidate bios and voting procedures.

National Events

Registration for the 16th International Handbell Symposium in Jeju, Korea is now open. Please GO HERE for details.

Help build a pension for the Guild, by contributing to the HERITAGE FUND


If you’ve not yet seen our first ever Virtual Handbell Ensemble, have a look HERE. Help us get as much exposure as possible by commenting and sharing.

Member Rewards


Organizing a Handbell Program-Recruitment and Assimilation

“Retention of Ringers” continues Karen Eastburn’s “Organizing a Handbell Program” series by offering suggestions to help retain those ringers whom you have successfully recruited.

Visit Handbell Musician Resources>>


Celebrate our Diamond Jubilee with
Commemorative Handbell

Handbell Musicians of America turns 60 in 2014.  Commemorate this milestone with a specially designed handbell from Malmark which also supports our Heritage Fund with a 20% contribution for every bell sold. This bell features a beautifully engraved authentic Malmark C6 casting featuring the Handbell Musicians of America Logo to commemorate their 60th anniversary.

The casting is combined with a Surlan gold ribbon inlaid handle, a gold silk screened lexan handguard, and an acrylic ball clapper. This dual purpose bell will let everyone know that you support Handbell Musicians of America while adding charm to any table, desk, or mantel.

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Have You Got Talent?

The national talent show and contest America’s Got Talent is seeking cast members for the next season. We have been contacted by a show producer asking for auditionees from within our membership. They are looking for the latest and greatest acts of all ages, including individuals and groups, and would love to include handbells on this year’s show.  So, hone your act, put on your finest, and make the journey to one of the 7 remaining audition sites and help us put handbells on the national stage!

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Davidson Composition Contest Deadline Approaching

The deadline for submitting an entry in the David Davidson Composition Contest is less than a month away.  This contest encourages submissions from young and new handbell composers of original works written for advanced handbell ensembles.  The winning composition will be performed at Distinctly Bronze East in October 2014.

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Music Notes from John Behnke

Looking Ahead

Most of us have our December concerts and services planned, but it’s time to look ahead. Spring is coming and our ensembles will be wanting new music that is fun and exciting.

I’m happy today to feature a new arrangement of “I Will Arise and Go to Jesus,” AG35313, by a young composer, Matthew Compton. Matt is from Colorado Springs, Colorado. This arrangement, based on the hymntune “Restoration,” is both energetic and reflective, and is fun to play. It also has optional titles of “Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy” or “Loving Spirit, Holy Spirit.” However you title it, ringers will love this arrangement with the malleted bass, the echo rings, and middle bell martellatos in the closing section.

I asked Matt what inspired him to arrange this piece for handbells. He said, “I have always loved this melody and it has always been one of my favorite hymns. I wanted it to be exciting and give handbell choirs a chance to experiment with musicality with the fast malleting and martellato sections.”

He continued, “I found inspiration for the piece when I heard Camile Saint-Saens’ ‘Bacchanale’ from Samson and Delilah. The bass malleting pattern is based on the bass pattern in that work. It worked very well for this piece. My favorite part of this song is the return of the original malleting and melody starting at measure 70 to the end of the piece. It’s a lot of fun to get that section of the song up to a fast tempo.”

I don’t often tell the age of our featured composers. Some of them might never talk with me again, if I did. But Matt is 19 years old and loves handbells. In Colorado, he rang in two handbell choirs, one at his church and with the community youth handbell choir, Pikes Peak Youth Ringers (PPYR) directed by Susan Hedgpeth. Both groups go on tour each summer and spend a lot of time learning a large number of pieces. “I love to direct when I get the chance and I usually got to direct one or two pieces in each group.” Presently he is a freshman at Concordia University Wisconsin, where he is a K-12 choral nusic major, ringing in The Alleluia Ringers, Concordia’s touring handbell choir. He says, “Following college, I want to be able to play in a handbell choir, but also be able to direct one or two others. I love attending handbell festivals and I would really love the opportunity to direct a festival one day! Plus I would love to bring handbells into public high schools to expand their music programs by focusing on youth.” So if you are looking for a handbell musician/composer/director for your next youth festival, you might wish to consider hiring a young handbell musician/composer/director who is sure to inspire.

When Matt is not playing handbells or writing handbell music, he says, “I love to perform in theater, especially musical theater. I also enjoy hiking, running, swimming, and snowboarding. I love being around friends and hanging out with them, and I love to find new music (that is not handbell related) to listen and sing to in my free time. I think people get annoyed with my constant singing sometimes!”

As we look forward, it’s reassuring to know that there are young people out there who love handbells and are looking forward to sharing with others the joy of ringing. I encourage you to take a look at Matthew Compton’s new piece, “I Will Arise and Go to Jesus,” AG35313.

Until next month,

John Behnke, Music Editor

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