Concordia handbells delivers joyous music to the East Coast

The Concordia Courier

With rehearsals twice a week the Concordia handbell ensembles strive for excellence in their instruments, while also providing new and innovative handbell repertoire.

By Rebekah Michel | 3/22/2024

As the Music Department prepares for their final concerts of the semester, the Concert and Spirit Bells ensembles are rehearsing for their Home Concert and performance tour across North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. Under the direction of Alex Guebert ‘11 and Erik Der, Community Engagement Director, the Concert and Spirit Bells ensembles allow for students to perform challenging handbell repertoire, sharpen their musical skills, and build a great sense of community. 

For many students in the handbell ensembles, their first exposure to the instrument was in church settings. “I didn’t start playing handbells until my senior year of high school. Back then, I was just playing with my church's handbell choir,” said Hannah Springer. Springer is a freshman Church Music major and is preparing for her first tour with the handbell ensembles. 

For senior English and Theatre major Meg Rocha, handbell performances often provoke surprised reactions from the audience. “A compliment we get most from people who watch us perform is how they’ve never seen a bell choir play like us,” said Rocha. As an instrument whose roots are often tied to church settings and praise, Concordia’s handbell program provides an enriching musical experience that cannot be found at many other universities. “Alex Guebert and Erik Der are true handbell devotees. They pick amazing repertoire with techniques and styles that defy the status quo of ringing,” said Rocha. 

In preparation for their East Coast performance tour, students are excited to share the unique gifts and talents with audiences. “The handbell community is very niche and small, but they are so passionate about the art form. It’s so fun to visit other states to meet people in corners of the world that share handbells in common. It’s always in the name of God and using our instruments to praise,” said Rocha. 

With the East Coast performance tour starting days after finals week, a great deal of time management and effective rehearsal strategies are required for the students and directors involved. “Preparing the tour repertoire has been a bit stressful and a lot of work. However, I know that it is all going to pay off in the end,” said Springer. 

Highlights of this year's handbell performance tour from May 7 - 12, include a concert hosted by the famous Raleigh Ringers of North Carolina, a handbell invitational featuring high school ringers from the state of Virginia, and a final tour concert at St. Mark's Episcopal on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. In addition, the tour repertoire of the Spirit and Concert Bell ensembles can be heard from our own CU Center for their Home Concert on April 26 at 7 p.m. 

For their upcoming Home Concert on April 26, students hope to highlight the growth that they have made over the course of the school year. “One of my favorite pieces from our set is called ‘Passages.’ I love it because I think it’s really going to show how far we have come as an ensemble,” said Springer. 

For more information or to purchase tickets for the Handbell Home Concert on April 26, please visit Please note that tickets are free, but are required to gain entry. In addition, there will be donations taken to help fund further handbell performances at Concordia. 

Tags: Alexander Carr

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