This Month

DB West Registration Opens at Noon Today

Space Available for Postponed Distinctly Bronze East

Discuss Using Tablets for Music in Our Next Member-Chat

YouTube Level 2 Music Challenge

John Behnke’s Music Notes


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Handbell Musicians of America PO Box 221047 Louisville, KY 40252

This includes membership renewal, contributions, event registration payments, invoice payments, etc.

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Distinctly Bronze West Registration Opens at Noon Today

Distinctly Bronze West, our event for advanced handbell musicians, opens for registration at 12:00 NOON (EDT) today (Monday, October 15.)  The event returns to the Resort on the Mountain in Welches, Oregon with Dr. William Payn on the podium. Registration will fill quickly so be ready!

Details Here

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Space Available for Postponed Distinctly Bronze East

We were saddened by the devastating impact Hurricane Florence had on our friends in New Bern, North Carolina. They have begun the recovery process and we look forward to returning there June 6-9, 2019 for the postponed Distinctly Bronze East 2018. With the change of dates, several positions have opened up for the event which are now available for new registrants.

Details Here

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Discuss Using Tablets for Music in Our Next Member-Chat

November 3 • 3 p.m. Eastern

Think you’re ready to explore the world of digital music?  Or just curious about the options for you as a director or ringer?

Join our next Member Chat with Brian Seemann as he discusses a variety of topics like programs, cost, utility as a ringer and/or director, battery life, pros/cons, marking digital music, and specifically how to purchase and load music LEGALLY. Questions welcome.

Member-Chat Details

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YouTube Level 2 Music Challenge

We are challenging you, no matter what your ensemble’s ringing level, novice to advanced, to rehearse a Level 2 or below piece of music and make it sound like a Level 5. Give the piece as much musicality as you can through technique, style, tempo, rhythm, etc.

Throughout the month of November, post a video of your finished piece to YouTube and send us a link to it. This will give choirs who take the summer off  a couple of months to rehearse. We will feature the videos in a special section of the website and invite others to comment on them. Send your link to [email protected]. Include with your submission any notes you’d like to share about what you did to refine the musicality of the piece and steps you may have taken to achieve it.

Please note: If you use a piece of music that is not published by AGEHR Publishing, then you will need to secure permission from the publisher to post it to YouTube and

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Music Notes from John Behnke

Bleak Has Never Been More Beautiful

The weather is starting to get cooler. One might even say colder. Fall is here and winter is coming. Our highlighted piece this month vividly describes the deep cold of winter; the time when we experience Christmas. “In the Bleak Midwinter,” AG36061, arranged by Cathy Marker is a Level 2+ piece for 3 to 6 octaves of handbells, and bleak has never been more beautiful.

I asked Cathy what inspired her to arrange this piece. She said, “One of our ringers asked whether we could ring “In the Bleak Midwinter” during the upcoming Christmas season. This beloved carol has always been one of my favorites, so I was excited to see whether I could create an arrangement that would be fun and a little bit challenging for our group. The piece has been very well received by the ringers and audience whenever we’ve performed it, and it has become part of our regular Christmas seasonal repertoire.”

There is an eight measure introduction with an eighth note motive drawn from the opening notes of the melody. Mm. 9-24 presents the first stanza. Mm. 25-28 is a four measure interlude using the introductory material. The second stanza starts at m. 29 with a more colorful harmony. Mm. 50-53 provides a beautiful modulation to F major. Mm. 54-70 is the third stanza of the hymn with a louder dynamic and again a very attractive harmony. Measure 71 to the end is the Coda which brings back the introductory eighth note motive to a lovely and beautiful ending.

I asked Cathy if she had a favorite part and she said, “My favorite part is the lead-in to the key change starting at measure 46, which builds in intensity and dynamic level to the point of arrival at measure 54. She said the piece feels quite lush, and the use of suspensions and the alternate harmony seem to evoke quite an emotional response in many people.”

You might remember Cathy from a recently published piece, the Prelude on Holy Manna AG35364 which has been on the Jeffers Hot 40 for a number of weeks. Cathy said, ” I was raised on my family’s dairy farm in West Hoosick, NY, where my grandmother encouraged me to play her piano and Estey pump organ from a very young age. After studying piano and composition at Summer Sonatina in Bennington, Vermont and Juilliard Pre-College Division in NYC during high school, I earned a BA in composition at Bennington College. I have served as a church organist nearly continuously since age 14. I am a member of the Portland, Maine chapter of AGO, where I currently study organ and composition with Harold Stover. Since 2014, I have served as organist and director of a very talented adult handbell choir at First Congregational Church, UCC in Wolfeboro, NH.”

When she isn’t practicing the organ or arranging music for us, she says, “I am blessed to live in the beautiful lakes region of New Hampshire with my wonderfully supportive spouse and two cats. In summer, I enjoy kayaking and tending a vegetable garden. When I’m not shoveling snow in winter, I like to snowshoe and feed the wide variety birds that visit our backyard. I’m also a Hauptwerk virtual pipe organ enthusiast and an avid, but not terribly skillful, golfer.”

I hope you will take a look and listen to this new and beautiful arrangement of In the Bleak Midwinter. Just as it has become a part of Cathy’s regular Christmas repertoire, we think it will become part of your regular Christmas repertoire as well. Enjoy In the Bleak Midwinter, AG36061, Level 2+ by Cathy Marker.

See & Hear the Music

Until next month,
Happy Ringing!

John Behnke, Music Editor

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