Festival Conference 2019 Information

Location: University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT
Dates: June 27 – June 30, 2019
Clinicians: Cathy Moklebust (Bronze, Copper) and Kevin McChesney (Tins and Mass)
Opening Concert: Forté

Why should I go to Festival Conference at Area 1?

…to learn new things! Everyone, even the most advanced ringers can learn something new. Maybe it will be in a massed rehearsal, at a class for basic ringing, advanced techniques, an open discussion, or origami, yoga, steel or african drums, or even while chatting at mealtime.

…to meet other bell choirs, talk with other ringers and directors, and ring some of the best music available today under the most superb directors

…because if you have never experienced it before, you’re in for an unforgettable weekend with some of the nicest people, and the best bell ringing in New England.

Repertoire for 2019

It’s never too early to order your music for Festival Conference!  Order it now and program it for the upcoming year.  You’ll be ready and totally prepared to ring with the other 700 people who will be attending.


  • Make me an Instrument of Thy Peace (Kevin McChesney) MJHS9296  (handbells), MJHS9296B (Instrument parts), MJHS9296FS (Full Score)
  • Allegro Spiritoso (Greg Underwood)  MAG23028 (2-3 octaves),  MAG35261 (3-5 octaves) AGEHR Publishing
  • Inception  (Jason Krug)  MLC202021L (2-3 octaves), MLC202020L (3-5 octaves)  Lorenz publishing
  • Festive Intrada (Sondra Tucker) MGIG6179 (Handbell), MGIG6179INST (instruments)     GIA Publishing


  • Andante Maestoso (Kevin McChesney)  Full Score MBEHB180, MBEHB180A Handbell Score, MBEHB180B instrumental score  Beckenhorst Press
  • Aria (Derek Hakes)  MGIG6122  GIA Publishing
  • Christ is Risen, Alleluia (Patricia Hurlbutt)  MGIG9306  GIA Publishing


  • Now All the Vault of Heaven Resounds (Cathy Moklebust)   MCO977488  Concordia Publishing
  • Way Down in Egypt Land (Brian Childers)   Sonology – NOTE: This is a reproducible score – buy ONE, make copies.
  • Seasons of the Heart (Karen Buckwalter)   MAG35197 AGEHR Publishing


  • Impressions on Veni Emmanuel (Cathy Moklebust) handbell score CGB1001; full score with instr CGB1000  Choristers Guild
  • Fly Me to the Moon (Joel Raney)   MHP2822 or DHP2822 digital direct handbell scores
    Instrument parts, conductor’s score, synth and percussion MHP2822P   Hope Publishing
  • Overture to the Barber of Seville (Rossini/Thompson) JHS9229 Jeffers
  • Four Resonances (William Payn) MAG46008J  AGEHR Publishing


NEW Bronze Division Info for 2019

  • Choirs that attended Festival/Conference 2017 in the Bronze Division will not need to re-audition, unless:
    • Your ensemble has a new director since Festival/Conference 2017 OR
    • 50% or more of your ensemble has turned over OR
    • The Festival/Conference 2017 Clinician recommended that you re-audition
  • You may invite your own Bronze-level Orphans to ring with your Ensemble, or have them assigned to you by the committee.
  • Each Bronze Ensemble needing to audition must submit a YouTube video of 2 songs.
    • It is preferable to submit at least one piece from the Festival Conference 2019 Bronze repertoire, although not required.
    • Audition pieces that are not FC19 repertoire must be Level 4+ or higher.
  • Bronze Orphans Choir:
    • There will be a Bronze Orphan Choir, members of which will be accepted using the following criteria:
      • A positive evaluation letter from another Bronze-level event, such as Distinctly Bronze OR
      • A self-evaluation and 2 Letters of Recommendation from handbell directors and/or colleagues that can vouch for your ability.
    • can apply as soon as the Bronze Ensemble audition process opens.
    • applications must be submitted BEFORE the Early Registration deadline, so that positions can be assigned and ringers have sufficient time to learn their music.
  • All Bronze orphans, ringers, and directors will be asked to sign a contract agreeing to meet the standards of the Bronze-level choirs that Area 1 has come to expect.

Bronze Audition Information

Audition Process for Ensembles:

The Bronze division is composed of advanced ringers and is typically the smallest ringing division. Cathy Moklebust will be directing this division which is represented by ringers with many years of experience, extended sets of bells and chimes, and a desire to ring bronze-level music, which is rated by Handbell Musicians of America as levels 4-6.

The purpose of these guidelines is to ensure a positive experience for all choirs in the Bronze division at FC19 by confirming that all Bronze choirs and individuals share the same desire and ability to achieve the level of musicianship required by the repertoire and the director. The process for FC19 is BRAND NEW, and we hope you are as excited by the changes as we are.

In order to continue the high level of musicianship and technique in this division, the following criteria for Bronze division choirs will be applied:

  1. Each Bronze choir must submit a YouTube video of 2 pieces.  It is preferable to submit at least one piece from the FC19 Bronze repertoire, although not required. Audition pieces that are not FC19 repertoire must be Level 4+ or higher.
    1. The recording shall contain both sound and images in which the choir and director are clearly visible. If multiple cameras are not available, the videographer should position the camera to capture both the choir and director at the same time. Different camera angles for each piece is recommended.
    2. New for FC19, substitute ringers or orphan ringers ARE permitted in this application process.
    3. Please identify any ringers on the recording who will not be ringing as part of the group at FC19, and indicate how many orphan spots you anticipate needing to fill. The number of substitutes for the auditions, and requested orphans should not exceed 25% of the permanent membership of the ensemble.
  2. The recording can be either a rehearsal or a performance, but should be of the highest available audio and video quality.
  3. Submitted video will be reviewed by an impartial anonymous committee that will evaluate the performance based on the rubric found listed below. You may wish to review and discuss this rubric with your choir before recording and submitting your audition video.
  4. Audition video must be uploaded to YouTube as an unpublished video. (More information regarding uploading to YouTube will follow in the November Fundamental Tone). Videos should be uploaded as soon as you are prepared, but no later than January 15, 2019.
  5. All choirs and directors will receive emailed feedback from the committee chair no later than January 31, 2019. Content will include an overall performance evaluation along with the score breakdown of each rubric category.
  6. The lowest score is 4; the highest is 16. A choir must score a minimum of 12 to be recommended for the Bronze division.
  7. Should the reviewing committee deem that the submitting choir is not prepared to participate in the Bronze division, the choir may:
    1. Choose to ring in the Coppers division.
    2. May be asked to work on specific issues with an Area 1 mentor, and then submit a new video within 4 weeks of notification.


Directors will be able to Pre-Register their groups prior to individual registrations. Check back here for the link in the future.

Expect Individual Registration to open around April 1, 2019.  Check here for the link.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to insurance requirements, the University of Hartford will be providing all tables for the massed ringing floor. Therefore table rental is mandatory, but will be included at no additional charge. Total linear feet needed to be provided during registration.

Opening Concert

Forté Handbell Quartet will be performing the opening concert.

Based in Colorado Springs, Forté is an advanced quartet marked by artistry, energy, and dedication to their craft. In pursuit of musical excellence, Forté strives to explore, innovate, inspire, and glorify God through the gift of music.

Formed in 2007, Forté began as an extended outlet for advanced ringers in Colorado Springs and immediately began to be featured in several concerts and tours with the Pikes Peak Ringers. But with an ever-expanding repertoire and the enhanced scheduling flexibility that only a small ensemble can provide, Forté soon emerged as a unique performance and educational quartet, quickly developing an elite reputation within the handbell world. The musicians of Forté – Luke Nabeta, Megan Reishus, Dillon Ekle, and Tory Marting – continually challenge themselves to “Rethink Possible,” expanding their musical and performance horizons, adding original compositions and arrangements to their already-challenging repertoire, and seeking out new performance venues and educational opportunities. In the past few years, Forté has had an increasingly active schedule of concerts and recording CDs and music videos, were featured performers at the Handbell Musicians of America National Seminar in 2016, presented a successful tour from Colorado to New York and back, another to Minnesota and back, and are planning several more tours and recording projects in the coming years. In 2017 the group has been celebrating its tenth year and is looking forward to many more!

Closing Concert

The closing concert takes place on the last day of Festival Conference, and the public is welcome to attend!

Conference Fees and Housing

Attend as: Early Bird Price After April 30, 2019 (+$30)
Ringer (Single Occupancy) $515 $545
Ringer (Double Occupany) $435 $465
Ringer (Commuter) $285 $315
Chaperone (Double Occupancy) $325 $355

All rooms will have air conditioning. Non air-conditioned rooms were not offered by the University of Hartford. All fees will be increased by $30 for registrations submitted after April 30, 2019.

Cancellation Policy

Registration cancellation/refund requests must be made via email to registrar.area1@handbellmusicians.org on or before May 15, 2019. You will receive a full refund minus a $20 per-participant processing fee. No refunds can be made for cancellations received after May 15.
A registration may be transferred to another person; however, class selections cannot be changed. Housing assignments may be changed based on availability at that time. A class exchange system will be in place during the Festival/Conference to facilitate class changes.

Scholarships Available

If you have a need for some financial assistance in order to attend this event, please apply for the financial assistance scholarship.

Directors who are members of the Handbell Musicians of America in Area 1 and have never attended an Area 1 or National event may apply for the Bradford Scholarship for Directors.

Also any Choirs who are attending an Area 1 or National Event for the first time may apply for the Bradford Scholarship for Choirs.

About our Conductors

Cathy Moklebust (b. 1958) has developed and directed handbell music programs since 1983, and has played bells since childhood. With her dynamic, positive approach and skilled conducting, she is in national demand as a handbell clinician and festival conductor. As one of today’s most popular handbell music composers, she has approximately 250 published compositions and arrangements to her credit, many of them reaching bestseller status. Her music has been described as “pure joy to ring and listen to, having a uniquely delightful sense of melodic and rhythmic interaction, with elegant form and style.” She has been commissioned to write music for festivals and other events, as well as for many individual handbell ensembles, including nine for the Raleigh Ringers. Cathy’s music has been broadcast on “Today,” “Good Morning, America,” public television, public radio, and SiriusXM satellite radio.

Ms. Moklebust began her musical career as a public school instrumental music instructor in South Dakota. She is an active percussionist, and has performed as principal or section percussionist with several professional and community bands and orchestras throughout the upper Midwest. Cathy has played in, conducted, and coached church and community handbell ensembles in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. Since 1989, she has worked in the music retail and publishing industry; currently she and her husband David operate Moklebust Music Services, a music preparation service.

Cathy earned both her B.A. (Music/Percussion, 1982) and M.Ed. (Teacher Education/Music, 1988) at South Dakota State University, in her hometown of Brookings, SD. She was encouraged in composition by her music theory professors Mary Alice Spencer Berger and Dr. Paul H. Royer, and studied instrumental conducting extensively with Prof. John F. Colson. Her handbell education began in 1970 with the Towers Handbell Choir of First Lutheran Church in Brookings, under the direction of the late Mrs. Barbara Berntson. Cathy and her husband reside in Brookings, SD.

Kevin McChesney graduated with highest honors from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a BMus in Composition and Theory. A composer and arranger of handbell music, Kevin currently has over 450 titles in print and is one of the very few musicians who makes handbells a full‑time vocation. He has won numerous awards for his work, including American Guild of English Handbell Ringers Composition Contests and Jeffers Composer of the Year.

Kevin was a church music director in Methodist and Presbyterian churches for twelve years. For five years, he was also accompanist and co‑director for the vocal music department at Air Academy High School, where he co‑directed a major production each fall season for eleven years.

Kevin is currently the handbell editor for Jeffers Handbell Supply and the RingingWord catalog. He directs an auditioned community handbell choir, the Pikes Peak Ringers. He is also co‑founder of the Solo To Ensemble Project, STEP, and authors a quarterly newsletter containing instruction and information for handbell programs, the Handbell Classroom. He is in demand throughout the handbell world as a workshop clinician and festival conductor.

Kevin lives in Colorado Springs, CO, with his wife Tracy and their cats, Belle and Grace Note.