June 6-9, 2019

Postponed & Relocated from October 2018 due to Hurricane Florence
Hilton Raleigh North Hills, Raleigh, NC
Lee Afdahl, Conductor

A Note About Postponement & Relocation

The city of New Bern and surrounding communities were severely impacted by Hurricane Florence.  Initial reports from city officials were that the city would be ready to host our event by June. As the damage was reviewed and plans for repair and restoration were developed, it became apparent that it would take much longer than initial reports indicated.

After assuring us they would be ready by June, the New Bern Convention Center later reported they would not open until September. With the assistance of staff at the convention and visitors bureau and others in New Bern, we investigated several other options before reaching a tentative agreement to move the event to the DoubleTree Hotel which is located next to the Convention Center.  Their plan was be open by April 1. However, disagreements with their insurance carrier about the extent of damage and repairs needed have led them to announce that they will be closed indefinitely.

As there are no other venues in the New Bern area that can support the space needs of the event, we started searching nearby communities in North Carolina and finally found an option that fit our needs in Raleigh.  Our new event venue is the Hilton Raleigh North Hills.  The Hilton will provide complimentary shuttle transportation from the Raleigh-Durham International Airport and to nearby shopping and entertainment districts.  For more information about the Hilton, go to the Lodging section toward the bottom of this page.


What is Distinctly Bronze?

The massed ringing event for advanced handbell musicians which provides the opportunity to perform on the largest handbell sets available under the direction of Lee Afdahl. Four days of rehearsal lead up to a Sunday afternoon concert which is open to the public for a small admission charge.

Who Should Attend:

Successful Distinctly Bronze (DB) participants have the following traits:

  • Committed to learning all of the music on their own. Learning means going beyond the notes – you know where the musical line is and can see/hear the overall picture.
  • Learns quickly
  • Understands that the overall musical result is more important than the individual
  • Has experience with music approaching the difficulty of the DB repertoire (difficulty of at least AGEHR level 4)
  • Is willing to adapt to a different philosophy of handbell assignments and sharing
  • Can play a variety of positions, and is flexible about position assignment
  • Has the stamina, energy and attention for lengthy rehearsals during the 4 1/2 days of the event
  • Has good rehearsal etiquette – is prompt & cheerful, and attends ALL rehearsals
  • Has self-awareness to realize when he/she “is the problem” (as in playing wrong rhythm, wrong bell, wrong dynamic, not following the director), and, without prompting or comment from anyone, either remedies the problem or sits out that passage
  • Understands that ringing is a collaborative effort. All the notes must be rung musically. This may require sharing handbells with neighbors or giving one or more handbells to a different musician for an entire piece.
  • Is open to constructive comments
  • Doesn’t crumble under performance pressure

Ringing challenging music, working with an excellent conductor in a “master class” situation, networking with handbell friends and colleagues. Talking about handbells, conducting, directing, recruiting, repertoire, ringing, etc., moves us forward as musicians.

Beth Ann Edwards

Distinctly Bronze Alumni

There is so much talent in that room, it’s incredible. Sometimes during rehearsal I look around and stand in awe at what is transpiring around me. I consider it such an honor to be a part of it.

Thomas Warren

Distinctly Bronze Alumni

Event Registration

The registration fee for this year’s event is $360.00.  All registrants must have their own membership in Handbell Musicians of America or be the primary contact on a group membership.

In addition to working with conductor Lee Afdahl, your registration fee includes two meals (dinner Thursday and lunch Sunday), a Distinctly Bronze polo shirt, and a CD recording of the final concert. You also have the opportunity to ring with talented colleagues and network with other friendly Handbell Musicians of America members. Additional meals, polo shirts or CDs can be ordered by completing the appropriate line on the Registration Form.

Registrants are required to have their own active Handbell Musicians of America membership—either personally or as the primary contact for a church or organization.  To join Handbell Musicians of America, follow this link or contact the national office for assistance.

Ringing assignments are based on your response to the questions in the registration process about your assignment preferences.  The requirement to complete additional forms for ringing preferences has been discontinued.  All information required will be gathered during the initial registration process.

What is your DB Alumni status?

Your status and the expiration date of that status were indicated in the communication (letter or e-mail) you received after the last Distinctly Bronze event you completed. There are three categories. See details about the evaluation process here.


Yes, can attend one DB event within the next 24 months (4 events total) – no reapplication required.  If don’t attend within that period, will be required to reapply. Follow the registration steps below.


Yes, can attend one DB event within the next 24 months (4 events total) – no reapplication required.  If don’t attend within that period, will be required to reapply.  Expected to show improvement at next event.  Follow the registration steps below.


No, must reapply and may be asked to provide a video and/or evidence of significant skills building experiences such as lessons, workshops.  Specific areas in which improvement is needed will be cited. Contact event chair for instructions – [email protected]

If you don’t know your status, contact the event chair at [email protected]

Complete the following items as soon as possible:

1 – Log in to your member account and complete the online event registration by following the registration link on the login welcome page. The registration fee must be paid in full at the time of registration. If you do not have your own Handbell Musicians of America membership, join here or call the national office (937-438-0085) for assistance.

2 – If your alumni status has expired, also complete the Alumni Re-Apply Form (link provided on registration confirmation page.)


If you would like to apply to attend Distinctly Bronze, please follow these steps as soon as possible:


1 – Log in to your Guild member account and register for the event on-line.  You will see the link to registration on your login welcome screen.  If you do not have your own membership in Handbell Musicians of America, you may join here or call the national office (937-438-0085) for assistance.  You must pay the full registration fee at the time of registration.  This fee will be refunded in full if you are not accepted to the event.

2 – Complete and submit the on-line First-time Attendee Application from the link provided on your registration confirmation page.

3 – Contact two references that have observed you ringing within the past year and ask them to complete the on-line First-time Attendee Recommendation. YOU ARE THE ONLY PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR ENSURING THAT YOUR TWO RECOMMENDATIONS ARE RECEIVED. You will not be contacted if your recommendations are not received in a timely manner.

Please note that no applications will be considered until ALL OF THE ABOVE FORMS & RECOMMENDATIONS are received by the national office.

Please make note of the following important dates and deadlines:



Your payment will be processed at the time you submit your on-line registration for the event.

First-time attendees and Alumni Re-Apply applicants, you will receive a follow-up e-mail from the event chair once ALL APPLICATION MATERIALS have been received and your application has been reviewed and accepted. THIS IS YOUR CONFIRMATION. If you DO NOT receive this confirmation, it is your responsibility to follow up with the National Office to make sure your application has been received.

Returning Alumni (who received an A or B rating), your registration confirmation email is the only confirmation you will receive.

June 1 – Ringing assignments will be sent to all accepted attendees.  UPDATE: With the postponement of the event, assignments for those who register after October 1, 2018 will be sent 4-6 weeks after all required forms and payment is received.



You are responsible for purchasing and rehearsing the music. Repertoire notes regarding problem solving, corrections and other items may be sent at various times before the event.  Music may be purchased directly from publishers of from any music retailer.  Our HIC retailers include:  Heitz Handbells & Music, Jeffers Handbell Supply, and J.W. Pepper.

Heitz Handbells & Music – order online at this link.  Just enter Distinctly in the Title field to pull up a complete list of the DB East repertoire.  Those purchasing from this page will receive a 15% discount which will be automatically applied at checkout.

Expedition by Joel Raney
Agape 2679, Level 5

Praise the Lord with Drums and Cymbals by Sigfird Karg-Elert, arranged by Andrea Handley
AGEHR AG37009, Level 4

Transfiguration by Michael Keller
AGEHR AG57002, Level 6

Waltz Fantasy by Nancy Hascall
AGEHR AG36048, Level 3

A Mighty Fortress is Our God by Martin Luther, arranged by Betty Garee
Alfred 23163, Level 4+

Legacy by William Payn
Beckenhorst HB594, Level 5

Ring to the Lord a New Song by Cathy Moklebust
Choristers Guild CGB960, Level 4-

Cantabile-A Singing Spirit by Lee Afdahl
From the Top 20121, Level 4

From Peril to Peace to Joy by Lee Afdahl
From the Top 20545, Level 3

It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) by Duke Ellington, arranged by Hart Morris
From the Top 20424-HB, Level 5

Riu, Riu, Chiu arranged by Sondra Tucker
Lorenz 20/1984L, Level 3

Fountainhead by Don Allured
National Music Publishers HB543, Level 4

Salut D’Amour by Toshikazu Yoshida
PRIME2001, Level 3
Purchase through this link.

Autumn Leaves by Joseph Kosma, arranged by Andrea Handley
Red River RRG5018, Level 4

Tablet Policy

Handbell Musicians of America is committed to upholding the copyright laws of the United States and protecting the rights of our publishers, arrangers and composers.  If you wish to use a tablet computer to hold your music in place of standard paper copies on a music stand, you must contact the publisher of each piece of music to first obtain permission to convert a purchased piece of music to the format required for the tablet you are using.  Copies of the written permission received from publishers must be presented on request from the event organizer, event chair, or Handbell Musicians of America staff. Permission from a publisher for one piece does not imply permission for other songs from the same publisher.  The title of each song used in this format must be included in the written permission received. Attendee should also have legally purchased copies of all music with them for verification. Titles originally purchased in a digital format do not require permission from the publisher, however, please have a copy of your purchase receipt available.

Event Schedule
Thursday, June 6  
8:00 AM – 1:30 PM Load-in Setup – All available hands assist
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM Distinctly Bronze Registration
2:00 PM – 2:30 PM Welcome Announcements for ALL RINGERS
2:30 PM – 5:00 PM Rehearsal (break 3:45-3:55pm)
5:00 PM – 6:00 PM Dinner provided
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM Rehearsal
Friday, June 7  
8:30 AM – 9:45 AM Rehearsal
9:45 AM – 2:00 PM Treble (D5-C9) Free (lunch on your own)
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM Bass (C2-C5) Sectional
12:00 PM – 4:20 PM Bass Free (lunch on your own)
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM Treble Sectional
4:20 PM -7:00 PM Rehearsal (break 5:50-6:00pm)
7:00 PM Dinner (on your own)
Saturday, June 8  
9:00 AM – 12:00 PM Rehearsal (break 10:30-10:40am)
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM Lunch (on your own)
2:00 PM – 6:30 PM Rehearsal (breaks 3:00-3:15pm & 4:45-5:00pm)
6:30 PM Dinner (on your own)
Sunday, June 9  
9:00 AM -11:30 AM Rehearsal (break 10:15-10:25am)
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Provided Lunch & Closing Announcements
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM Final Rehearsal
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM Final Concert Preparation (dress & free time)
4:00 PM Concert
approx. 5:30 pm All Hands Teardown (pack and load handbells and other equipment)

Our event venue and official hotel is the Hilton Raleigh North Hills.

This newly revitalized hotel is ideally located for discovering the area’s popular shopping and business districts. Their complimentary shuttle will take you to and from the airport and the North Hills Shopping and Entertainment District.  The hotel features newly renovated guest rooms and meeting space, as well as a fitness center, business center, indoor pool and whirlpool. Plus, the all new ’88 Oaks Caroline Kitchen and Bar serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks.

For the event, we have secured a group rate of $144/night plus tax (13.25%).

To make reservations, follow this link to our special group reservation page. If you prefer to make reservations by phone, call (919) 872-2323 and refer to group code HBMA.

The deadline for making reservations from our block is May 13.

Cancellation Policy

This policy applies to refunds for ANY reason, including medical, family and business. This policy applies even if we fill your slot with another ringer. If you desire, you can receive a copy of the Distinctly Bronze East 2018 recording at no charge if you cancel.

Payment in full is required to enter your registration and is refundable only when:

  • A first-time applicant is not accepted
  • An individual on the wait list is not offered a slot, or declines a slot offered after May 1 2019.

Fee refunds minus a $100 cancellation penalty will be made for written or email cancellations received by 3/31/2019. Cancellations received by 5/1/2019 will be refunded 50% of registration fee less cancellation penalty; after 5/1/2019 registration is not refundable.  The date of cancellation will be the date the cancellation is RECEIVED in the national office by the event registrar, Vickie Iverson.

Evaluation Process

Distinctly Bronze is unique in the skill and commitment of our handbell musicians. Every year, attendee event comments urge us to preserve and improve the level of ringing at the event. To this end, all DB attendees are evaluated each year and placed in one of three categories.

For a complete description of the evaluation process and criteria that must be met for each ringer category, follow this link.