Festival/Conference 2019 Faculty

LAWRENCE A. BERDENSEY has been teaching for 35 years and is currently the Band Director at West Side Middle School, in Groton, CT. His bands have won superior ratings at adjudicated festivals, and his symphonic band is invited to perform annually at the Naval Submarine Base in Groton, CT  for special occasions and events. Lawrence has been directing handbells since 2004 and was the former handbell director at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, in Gales Ferry, CT. His music ministry included two youth ensembles, an adult choir, as well as, an adult and teen quartet. In January 2012, Lawrence became the director of the Hockanum Valley Ringers, a five octave community handbell ensemble located in Vernon, CT. Lawrence has been a clinician and guest conductor throughout New England, at many Area 1 events. Lawrence holds a B.S. in Music Education, from UConn and a M.S. in Education, from SCSU.

DIANE BURKE was inspired to take up bell ringing by her mom over 30 years ago, began her ringing career with the Sudbury Bellringers of Memorial Congregational Church in Sudbury MA. She is a charter and current member of the Merrimack Valley Ringers and director of three handbell choirs: Joyful Ringers, First Church Congregational, Marlboro MA; The Lincoln Ringers, First Parish, Lincoln MA; and the Sudbury Bellringers, Memorial Congregational Church, Sudbury MA. She has assisted several clinicians in Area 1 Skill Building workshops, and has taught several different class topics at MVR workshops and Area 1 Festivals, as well as classes about handbells outside of the “ringing world”. She is a co-founder of the Acton MA Fall Skill-Building/Rep Reading workshop.. Diane currently serves the Area 1 Board as Secretary , and is also on the Board of the Merrimack Valley Ringers.

HOLLY CERULLO has been ringing handbells as a member of the West Chelmsford United Methodist Church Festival Ringers since 1980. She is also assistant director of the Celebration Ringers and Singers, a bell/vocal group made up of middle and high school youth. After sixteen years of ringing with The Merrimack Valley Ringers, she has retired from that portion of her ringing career. As a member of Handbell Musicians of America, she has led many handbell workshops and is presently the Chair of Area 1’s  Chime Loaner Program. Retired from teaching middle school after 35 years, Holly now devotes her  time to gardening, travel, missions, and of course, handbell events.

RACHEL CERULLO  has been busy for the past two years working full time and being a single super-mom to two kids. Although not able to ring regularly in a handbell ensemble, Rachel keeps up with the bell community by subbing in rehearsals and concerts for groups throughout New England, performing as a bell tree soloist, and devising creative ways to keep her bell skills sharp even when there are no bells physically in front of her. She is always tired, but (when around handbells) always smiling! Offer her coffee, and ask her about her cat “Jonesy.”

SUE CHAMBERLIN was introduced to handbells at a Christmas dinner in 1980 and has been ringing, directing, and teaching handbells ever since.  Sue has served on the Area 1 Board as NH State Chair, Chair, and Treasurer.  In recent years, she has helped organize Skill Building Workshops, Winter Workshop, and Festival/Conference.  After retiring from a career in teaching math, Sue served as the New England sales representative for Schulmerich Bells for seven years, and still does handbell repairs.  Currently, Sue directs a handbell choir and a chime choir at Faith Community Bible Church in Loudon, NH, and rings with the Merrimack Valley Ringers.

CHRISTINE CHITO  With her husband, Paul, Christine Chito is the 2019 World Champion in the Country Couples Gold IV Division. Chris has been Line and Couples dancing since 2001, and competing in Country Ballroom dancing since 2014. She is also a guitar and mandolin teacher and performs with the Providence Mandolin Orchestra, and the Al Fresco Mandolin Quartet.

BILL DEGAN is a Barbershop tenor and organist/choir director from Bristol, Connecticut.  He has sung with the Hartford Men in Harmony (formerly the Insurance City Chorus) since 2005 and has served as an assistant director.   He has also sung in several quartets, and has competed in regional competitions both in quartets and with the chorus.  He has chaperoned many “Harmony Explosion” camps for high school students in the region, and taught a course called “The Physics of Harmony” to both students and adults.  Bill has just retired as a physics teacher after 35 years.

JEAN DEGAN  has been ringing and directing handbells choirs since 1992. She has degrees from UConn in Music Education and from the Hartt School of Music, a Bachelors degree in Organ performance and a Masters degree in Liturgical Music. She has been employed at St. Joseph Church in Bristol since 1986 where she directs 3 vocal choirs and 4 handbell choirs. She has played numerous piano and organ concerts, has participated in 3 International Handbell Symposiums, and  performs with Shoreline Ringers. Jean served the Area 1 Board as Chair-Elect, Chair and past-chair, and was the Chair of Festival Conference ’11.  She has presented many workshops and classes for Area 1, HMA and other organizations.

VERA DUMOVA  A graduate from the St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music (Russia) with a degree in Piano Performance, Vera Dumova has been working at the Perkins School for the Blind for the past 15 years. She teaches piano, Braille music, and handbell classes. She learned  ringing techniques from Adele Trytko, a retired teacher of the Perkins School. In  2013, Vera became the Director of the Perkins School for the Blind Handbell ensemble. Vera previously directed handbells at Christ Episcopal Church in Needham, MA, frequently collaborating  with the  Carter Memorial handbell choir in Needham, MA. Her Perkins ensemble has participated in school concerts, assemblies, community events, and several Eastern Schools for the Blind Music Festivals. In May 2018, the Perkins Handbell ensemble was invited to participate in the Boston Handbell Festival.

DILLON EKLE started ringing handbells in 2013, and after a solid year of ringing in every group he could find, he joined Forté in 2014. Although he has played piano for most of his life, along with French horn, organ, and a few other instruments over the years, he has never felt as at home as he does playing handbells. Dillon also directs the handbell choir at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, subs in other groups as he can, and writes and arranges music for bells. Outside of handbells, Dillon also works as the bookkeeper at Grace Bible Church, and he has an underutilized degree in linguistics. He loves the Colorado mountains and is glad to live in a place where God’s glory is so tangibly present.

HARRIET FORMAN has been the director of the Village Bell Ringers, a 5 octave adult bell choir, at The Village Congregational Church in Whitinsville, MA, for over 30 years. She loves bells, and has participated in numerous Festival Conferences, seminars, and workshops over the years. In addition to her handbell involvement, she is employed by the Worcester (MA) Public School system as a full time elementary music teacher, grades K-6.

MEREDITH ANN GAINES   After being introduced to handbells in a middle school classroom, Meredith immediately jumped into learning the instrument and never looked back. Meredith is a handbell soloist and has also been the director of several church adult and youth handbell ensembles. She is an organizational and founding member of the Houston Chamber Ringers, and has performed with the Houston Bronze Ensemble. Meredith earned the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Performing Arts (Acting and Musical Theatre) from Stephens College, Columbia, Missouri, and was a professional actress before settling down with her family. Currently, Meredith is fully occupied with finishing her first book involving several years of research into the beautiful and symbiotic relationship between the use of Stanislavski theatrical techniques and creating meaningful handbell music. Meredith, her husband and daughter reside in Texas. Their growing collection of musical instruments includes a gong and a very odd tunable coconut.

ED HENDERSON of Tewksbury MA, started ringing handbells in 1962 and has been directing youth and adult handbell choirs for the last thirty plus years.  He has served local, area, and national handbell events as an organizer, clinician and as a massed and divisional conductor. He has been responsible for the handbell program at the Tewksbury Congregational Church, Tewksbury, MA for thirty years, having un-retired three times. He was the founding director of the New England Ringers and led that ensemble for thirteen years. Ed has served Area 1 of the Handbell Musicians of America as Member at Large,  Chair-Elect, Chair, Past Area Chair and Area Representative to the National Board of Directors. Beyond the world of handbells, Ed is a retired electrical engineer who spent his entire career managing customer support organizations for various companies. He is an avid NASCAR fan, enjoys restoring antique and classic cars, skiing, snowmobiling and spending time with his wife Sue, family and friends at their lake home in New Hampshire.

KAREN JAMES, Pittsford, VT, began ringing bells when her church, the United Methodist Church of Rutland, VT acquired a three octave set in 1983,  and she became the director a year later.  Under her direction, the Bells of Joy, now ring five octaves, have performed locally, at Area and National Festivals, and toured the Atlantic States.  Since 1986, Karen has helped organize and direct the annual Vermont Spring Rings and has taught numerous handbell workshops for Area1, Area 2, and national events.  Karen has rung many years with Distinctly Bronze,  the New England Ringers, and was selected to ring with the Dream Team at SEE, the Solo/Ensemble Extravaganza, in the summer of 2007.  In addition to her love of handbells, she enjoys accompanying recitals and directing musical theater productions. She taught music for over 40 years in the public schools and in her home studio, and is currently a part time piano instructor at Castleton University.

LINDA KRANTZ was born and raised in Glendale, California, where her musical influence was in her church. She sang in the choir and played the piano, but when she discovered handbells in the mid 1990s, she quickly realized that handbells were her “gift.” Now an accomplished and widely recognized solo handbell artist, Linda has an active performing career and regularly teaches at the local, regional, and national level. She has performed as far away as Paris, and most recently with David Lockington, cellist and maestro of The Pasadena Symphony. Linda is a founding member and president of L.A. Bronze, a past president and current Advisory Board member of the Pasadena Symphony, and a founding artist and past board member of Timbré. She has served as Secretary of the Area 12 Board of Handbell Musicians of America, and currently serves on the national Development committee for HMA..

LAUREN LARSON became a rhythm “pro” participating in a  percussion ensemble in high school. Her math mind has lent itself wonderfully to ringing handbells with Shoreline Ringers in Connecticut since 2006. Her day job is building submarines at Electric Boat, and between playing bells with her husband Pete and raising two cool kids, she finds time to run and meditate.

PETE LARSON began his handbell career in 1993.  Having only taken about half a year off from ringing bells since starting, it is the activity to which he is most committed, biology notwithstanding.  He currently works as a computer systems integration analyst at Progeny Systems in Groton, CT. Pete also has two young children, who can sometimes been seen near the front row of concerts watching daddy (and mommy!) ring handbells.

DEBRA LEBRUN is the Director of Music and Worship for Raleigh Court United Methodist Church in Roanoke, VA where she is the organist, director of the church’s singing choirs, handbell choirs, and instrumental groups. Originally from Massachusetts, she moved to Roanoke in 2010. Debra has been ringing and directing handbell choirs for over 35 years. In Area 1 she served as Chair and Festival/Conference Chair and  is currently Virginia State Chair.. Debra has been performing as a solo ringer for about 9 years after performing in ensembles and a duet team for many years and has been an organizer and clinician for numerous handbell festivals and events. Her handbell ringing has taken her around the country and the world performing in concert tours and at handbell festivals, including five International Handbell Symposiums. She was honored to be selected for the All-Star Choir representing the United States at the 2012 International Symposium in Liverpool, England.

SUE LEE first rang in the late 1970s, and was soon asked to direct the handbell choirs at a previous church, at a time when repertoire was relatively limited. Sue has been Director of Handbell Ministries at St. Matthew’s UMC, Acton, MA since 1998, where she started a hand chime choir and now directs multiple choirs on 5 octaves of handbells and 5 1/2 octaves of hand chimes.  Sue has an undergraduate degree in Music Education and taught/directed all levels of music for 26 years before getting her Masters Degree in Elementary Education and becoming a fourth grade teacher, now retired. Other interests are playing her trumpet, euphonium, or baroque recorders, quilting,  golf, traveling, reading, or just enjoying time with family and friends. Sue rings with the Merrimack Valley Ringers and is currently MA State Chair for Area 1.

KAREN E. LEONARD, the artistic director of the Merrimack Valley Ringers, is a graduate of Boston University and UMass Lowell with degrees in church music, organ performance and conducting. She is now in her 50th year as Minister of Music at West Chelmsford United Methodist Church in North Chelmsford, MA where she directs a graded choral and handbell program of seven choirs and also serves as organist. Karen served the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers (AGEHR) as Chair of Area I and National President. In 2008, Karen was awarded Honorary Life Membership in AGEHR, the highest award given for extraordinary service to the organization. She continues to serve as Chair of its National Master Series Classes. Karen was recently accepted as an ACME Honoree.  ACME stands for Artists, Composers, Musicologists and Educators.  It is an honor bestowed upon Mu Phi Epsilon members who are distinguished in their field of musical endeavor.  She and her husband Mark have two wonderful sons, a lovely daughter-in-law and two awesome grandchildren.

TORY MARTING is the most recent handbell fanatic to join Forté, and marks the beginning of the sixth generation of the group. 2008 saw the start of Tory’s ringing career with the formation of the Pikes Peak Youth Ringers, and since then he has been a part of four other bell choirs. He was asked to join Forté in January of 2015, and to this day wonders exactly how he ended up here! Outside of rehearsals, Tory proudly works as an apprentice electrician, and never overlooks an excuse to spend time with a friend. Having played piano (his “solo instrument”) for most of his life, Tory fully believes in the unfailing wonder of music, and is grateful to be humbled daily by the all-expansive power of God’s grace as he watches His sovereign plan unfold.

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, is  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.

CATHY MOKLEBUST 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. As an active percussionist she 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, 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.

DANIEL K. MOORE of Rumford, RI retired from teaching and directing the Concert Handbell Ringers of the Wheeler School in Providence, RI after 37 years. His auditioned ensembles appeared frequently on television, performed with the Rhode Island Philharmonic, and in opening concerts at national and regional handbell festivals. Recordings include Joy To the World (Empire Brass), Inside Fezziwigs (Ed Sweeney), and on several solo CD’s. Dan was a charter member of the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers’ committee to promote handbells in education and subsequently served regional and national AGEHR boards in many capacities including  Chair of AGEHR’s second Certification Program, and Secretary of Area 1. Dan is the director of the Jubilate Ringers of East Greenwich, RI; he continues to be a frequent clinician, organizer and conductor at handbell ringing events. His comprehensive handbell textbook, “Ringing RIGHT! From the Beginning”, a valuable resource for ringers and directors alike, is published by HMA/AGEHR. Dan is also a New England regional representative for Malmark Bellcraftsmen.

COLIN NAGLE is a member of the faculty at Wheeler School in Providence, RI, and director of the school’s Concert Handbell Ringers, an auditioned high school handbell ensemble. Colin is also a composer, arranger, and performer, and has written music for movies you definitely haven’t seen.  When not sitting at a piano, on stage,  or in the classroom, he can usually be found baking sourdough bread or playing fetch with his black lab, Roger.

JANE NOLAN is the music director at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Gales Ferry, CT and the director of Shoreline Ringers, an advanced level community choir in southeastern Connecticut. She has been directing handbells for 27 years and has directed the Area 1 High School RingOut, a number of spring rings and workshops, the Area 1 Youth Festival, and in May will direct the  Boston Handbell Festival. The Shoreline Ringers have performed at Carnegie Hall, on WSFB Channel 3 in Hartford for the Scott Haney Christmas Show, and with The U.S. Coast Guard Band for their Christmas Concerts. Jane’s degree is in music education from Skidmore College and she studied handbells with Don Allured at the Hartt School of Music. Jane has taught at numerous conferences, seminars and workshops throughout New England,  teaches piano, and is completing her tenure as Membership Chair for Area 1 of Handbell Musicians of America.

LUKE NABETA is the artistic director and energetic leader of Forté and arranges/adapts much of the music Forté performs. He began playing bells in 1996, has been playing with Pikes Peak Ringers since 2005, and has been performing in, teaching and directing various choirs and ensembles ever since. Although handbells are his instrument of choice, he also enjoys singing, playing one of his many other instruments and writing/arranging music. He supports his family as a mail carrier for the USPS, but dreams of being able to go into music full time. In addition to enjoying everything music related, he loves dark chocolate, hiking, martial arts, studying the Bible, photography, and spending time with his wife Serena and their three young children.

MEGAN REISHUS has been ringing handbells since 1996 when she was in fourth grade but truly found her passion for it in college, as a member of the St. Olaf Handbell Choir from Northfield, MN. Since then, she’s immersed herself in bells, from being a featured performer at area and national events to performing as a soloist and as a member of Minneapolis-based Bells of the Lakes. Megan moved to Colorado Springs in 2011 and is now a proud member of the Pikes Peak Ringers and the Forté Handbell Quartet. She works as an Associate in National Learning & Professional Development at RSM US LLP, and is the owner of Sonology Music / STEP, a music publisher. She bakes treats for nearly all rehearsals and has enjoyed tackling the many projects she’s facing as a relatively new homeowner.

CARLENE RUESENBERG has been playing handbells since 2004, and directing and teaching since 2011. For three years, she was the director of the Senior and Junior Handbell Choirs at the Lee Church Congregational, and is currently the director of the Memorial Bell Choir at South Congregational Church in Concord, NH. As a ringer, she became a founding member of the Granite State Ringers where she played for six years. Currently, she is in her fifth year ringing with the Merrimack Valley Ringers from Chelmsford, MA. She holds a B.M. in Bassoon Performance from Arizona State University, and a M.Ed. from Plymouth State University. She has also received a Level 1 Handbell Musician Certification from the Handbell Musicians of America, and is currently working on her Level 2 Certification.

KRISTEN RUSSO has been playing handbells since the age of 17. She has rung her way around New England starting with the St. Joseph Handbell Choir in Bristol CT, to the New England Ringers in MA, to Bells of Joy in Rutland VT, to the Shoreline Ringers! She is also a vocalist and sings with semi-professional choirs around CT as well as with the St Joseph Adult Choir in Bristol. Kristen spends her days working at Trinity Solar as a Concierge Team Lead. She currently lives in New Britain and directs the Asbury Methodist Church Handbell Choir in Bristol. Kristen has a degree in Music Education and spends way too much time watching puppy videos on YouTube.

BRIDGET SCARLATTO is the Music Director at Simsbury United Methodist Church in Connecticut where, among other ensembles,  she directs the Chancel Ringers, Insigni Ringers (teens), Wesley Ringers (beginning ringers), and Chime Choir. She is also involved in the Carillon Program at the church, although playing the Carillon is a new skill she is learning.  In 2017 Bridget received Level I Handbell Certification through HMA. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and three children, and also teaches at Manchester Community College and cantors for St. Theresa of Calcutta Parish in Manchester, Connecticut.

KIMBERLEE STREPKA has been pioneering Laban-based handbell instruction since 2000, and is the author of Handbell Artistry from the Inside Out: Laban Movement Theory for the Handbell Musician (Chicago: GIA Publications, 2012). She is also a published handbell arranger, and works to bring the music of orchestral and choral composer, Dan Goeller, to the handbell community. Kim holds music education degrees from the Hartt School of Music, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Boston University where ensemble ringing was the subject of her dissertation. Her advanced teen ensemble, the Bronze Ambassadors, has most recently performed with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra for their 2017 Holiday Pops concert tour, and will again this December.

JOY TOLL-CHANDLER has  been a ringer and director since 2000. She has a Bachelor of Music degree from the Crane School of Music and a Masters in Church Music (handbell emphasis) from Concordia University. She is delighted to be ringing with the Hockanum Valley Ringers and is learning more about solo and ensemble ringing. Joy loves the challenge of composing music for handbell choirs, and has two pieces published by AGEHR. She is also accredited as a faculty instructor for Level 1 Handbell Certification Theory and Conducting. For the past ten years, Joy worked in music and worship arts at churches in Florida, leading both vocal and handbell choirs, but she has now returned to New England where she is a United Methodist pastor in Belchertown, MA. She and her husband, Paul, have 4 children and now are enjoying the wonderful world of grandchildren.

KIM VISBARAS has been ringing handbells for over 25 years, currently with choirs in Auburn and Falmouth, Maine.  He has both full choir and ensemble experience, and has been a frequent clinician at Maine and Area 1 Festivals on various handbell topics and his offerings of African drumming.  He’s glad to be back again to enhance this year’s Festival Conference!

ANDY WALLACEof North Stonington, CT, is the Music Director at the Dunn’s Corners Community Church, Presbyterian, in Westerly, RI where he has spent twenty-three years directing the choral and handbell programs. Andy has been ringing handbells in choirs and ensembles since 1991, is active as a solo ringer and as a clinician throughout Area 1. He is a middle school history teacher in West Greenwich, RI, and has received several outstanding teaching awards including the prestigious Milken National Educator Award, the “Oscars” of education.

DAVID C. WARFIELD is the Director of Music Ministries at First Presbyterian Church in Newport, RI, having been called to that position in April 2013. Since 1968 David has served as organist, choir director or director of music in churches in New England and California. David was Music Director for the Granite State Choral Society (NH) from 1989 through 1998. An accomplished organist and pianist, he currently holds memberships with the American Guild of Organists, the Fellowship of American Baptist Musicians and Handbell Musicians of America. David served as Area 1’s NH State Chair for several years and has served on the Board of Directors for the New London County Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.

KIM WHITEHEAD holds degrees in piano and organ performance from the University of New Hampshire and Boston University where she also studied choral pedagogy and served as choral accompanist. She is the Choral and Handbell Director at Souhegan High School as well as Minister of Music at Brookside Congregational Church in Manchester NH. She teaches piano privately and serves as accompanist for The Souhegan Valley Chorus and Milford High School, and as music director for Amherst Middle School Theater Club, Souhegan High School Drama Club, Riverbend Youth Theater Company, and Amherst PTA.

Handbells has been a lifelong passion since, as a teenager, she began ringing with her mom in the adult bell choir.  She now hopes she can instill that same joy that comes only from ringing into the next generation of handbell musicians! She resides in Milford NH with her husband Derek and their three beautiful girls.

GINA MARIE WILLIAMS is the Director of Music leading the extensive music program at St. Luke Lutheran Church, Gales Ferry CT, where the music ministry consists of four handbell choirs, a senior vocal choir, and the contemporary praise band, Celebrate. An accomplished flutist, Gina also performs on clarinet, oboe, bassoon and all saxophones.