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.


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.

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!

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.









Conference Fees and Housing

Actual Prices TBD. (For reference, these were 2017 prices)

Attend as: Early Bird Price After April 30, 2019 (+$30)
Commuter $255 $285
Attendee (Double Occupany) $350 $380
Attendee (Single Occupancy) $390 $420
Chaperone (Double Occupancy) $250 $280

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.

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.

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.