June 24-27, 2021 | University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT

Table of Contents

​Handbell Musicians of America, Area 1 will hold its biennial Festival/Conference on the campus of the University of Hartford in West Hartford, Connecticut, from June 27 through June 30, 2021. Festival/Conference is sponsored by Handbell Musicians of America, Area 1 for the benefit of the members of the Handbell Musicians of America and the members of the ensembles that they direct.

Handbell ringers, directors and educators from all over New England and beyond will gather for four days of educational workshops, massed ringing rehearsals, concerts, and the opportunity to network with others who share a love for handbells. The event culminates in a closing concert that is free and open to the public, featuring an hour-long presentation of handbell music rung by 500 ringers!

If you have never experienced Festival Conference before, you’re in for an unforgettable weekend with some of the nicest people, superb directors, and the best bell ringing in New England. If you’re a veteran Festival attendee, we look forward to reconnecting with you!

Opening Concert Public Ticket Info

The opening concert will be on Thursday, June 24 from 8:15 to 9:45 at Lincoln Theater at the University of Hartford.  Even if you are unable to attend the Festival Conference, you may still attend the opening concert.  Tickets will be sold to the general public for $10 each. Tickets may be purchased any of these ways**:

  • Online* at www.hartford.edu/tickets, then clicking on the arts and event link
  • Over the phone* at 860-768-4228, Tuesdays – Fridays from 10am – 5 pm
  • Or In person at Lincoln Theater, Tuesdays – Fridays from 10am – 5 pm
  • In person at Lincoln Theater on Thursday, June 27 starting at 7:15 pm

*Please note that for online and phone orders there is a $1.50 per ticket fee plus a $2.50 transaction fee. These fees can be avoided by purchasing tickets in person Tuesdays – Fridays from 10am to 5pm and starting one hour prior to show time.

**Officially TBD, but this is a reasonable estimation.

jump to top

Closing Concert Info

On Sunday, June 27, from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm, a Closing Concert will be held in the Chase Family Arena. This concert is free and open to the public and will feature music rung by 500+ ringers! The ringers will also be accompanied by other instrumentalists, including the 5 Metal Chemistry Brass Quintet. At the conclusion of this concert, a free-will offering will be gratefully accepted to benefit the Bradford Endowment Fund, which provides scholarships to handbell ringers and directors attending a regional or national conference or seminar.

If you would like to order a recording of the Closing Concert, you may do so online (link to come).


Festival/Conference is sponsored by Handbell Musicians of America, Area 1 for the benefit of the members of the Handbell Musicians of America and the members of the ensembles that they direct. Members of the Handbell Musicians of America may register their group(s) here (link to come) to obtain a Group Registration Number that will be used by their ensemble members to register as individual attendees. Partial groups and “Orphan” ringers attending without a group are welcome! Check the Attendee Registration (link to come) page for more information and directions.

Registration to attend Festival/Conference 2021 is available on this website for each individual attendee. The Attendee Registration will open in February 1, 2021.

Important Dates:
  • Early-bird Attendee Registration discounts apply through April 30
  • Registration closes on May 15.

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.

jump to top

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.

jump to top

Scholarship Information

Scholarships are available on a variety of levels. If you are in need of financial assistance in order to attend this event, please review the scholarship information and application directions on our scholarships page.


Festival Repertoire

All participants are expected to purchase and rehearse the repertoire prior to attending Festival Conference. Photocopies of music are NOT permitted on the ringing floor.


  • Celebration on Azmon Brian Childers, Lorenz 20/1628L
  • Come Lift Your Hearts on High, arr. Dan Edwards, Alfred/Jubilate Group 44601
  • Dona Nobis Pacem, with cello, arr. Kevin McChesney, Choristers Guild CGB782
  • This Joyful Eastertide, with trumpet, arr. Ron Mallory, Alfred 46234


  • Acclamation in G Minor, Karen Thompson, AGEHR Publishing G23046
  • I’m Just a Poor Wayfaring Stranger, arr. Tammy Waldrop, Agape/Hope Publishing 2343
  • Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart, arr. Sandra Eithun, Lorenz 20/1947L


  • Compassion, Jason Krug, Beckenhorst HB382
  • Toccata on King’s Weston, Matthew Compton, Agape/Hope Publishing 2767
  • Wade in the Water, arr. Benjamin Tucker, Alfred 45230


  • Celtic Queen, Catherine McMichael, Camelia Music CM0016
  • A Festive Toll, Chris Burton, Beckenhorst HB640
  • Let Everything that Breathes, Praise the Lord, Cathy Moklebust, Choristers Guild CGB1147
  • Reflections, Karen Buckwalter, AGEHR Publishing AG36022

jump to top

What is Massed Ringing?

If you have never witnessed or participated in a Massed Ring, you are in for a spectacular experience! Imagine the floor of a college basketball arena, packed with 1000 feet of pad-covered tables, 3 choirs across, 10 rows deep, populated with 500+ handbell ringers, all ringing in sync under the baton of one director. The visual is amazing, the sound is inspiring, and the encounter is unforgettable.

Most importantly, massed ringing is an opportunity for personal growth. In a situation where you have multiple choirs all ringing the same piece of music, you can feel confident to reach a step or two beyond your usual ringing comfort level, knowing that there are many other ringers who will cover for mistakes and fill in missing notes.

Every ringer should experience a Massed Ring, and there is no better place to do that than Festival Conference.

jump to top

Ringing Divisions Explained

Tins – A division of massed ringing for beginning/emerging choirs that are generally ringing Level 1-2 music.

Coppers – A division of massed ringing for intermediate/more seasoned choirs that are generally comfortable ringing Level 2-3 music.

Bronze – A division of massed ringing for advanced skill-level choirs that are generally comfortable ringing Level 4-5 music.

For more information about the The Handbell and Handchime Music Difficulty Level System, visit https://handbellmusicians.org/music-resources/agehr-music-2/notation-guide/

jump to top

Guest Conductors

Guest Conductors for Festival/Conference are nationally-renowned composers, Stephanie Rhoades and Brian Childers.

picture of Stephanie Rhoades

Stephanie Rhoades
Copper and Bronze choirs

picture of Brian Childers

Brian Childers
Massed and Tins Choirs


jump to top

Opening Concert Performers

Rezound group pictureRezound!, Kansas City’s auditioned community handbell ensemble, has been captivating audiences around the country with their engaging style since 2001. A Rezound! concert always features a wide range of musical genres from classical, popular and traditional arrangements to stunning original compositions, with a unique sound created by integrating a variety of handbell instrumentation.

In addition to a year-round concert schedule, Rezound! hosts workshops for all ringing levels, and member musicians serve as clinicians and instructors at various events around the nation. The ensemble performs with the Kansas City Symphony and Symphony Chorus on their annual Christmas Festival concerts in the spectacular Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and enjoys collaborating with other ensembles and choirs in the metro area. Highlights of the group’s 20-year history include performing at National and Area Festivals and Seminars and serving as musical ambassadors for their hometown on annual summer tours.
Rezound! members share a passion for creating exceptional music and promoting the art of this versatile instrument. The ensemble is excited to be making their east coast debut at this summer’s Festival! More information can be found at rezound.org and on Facebook.


jump to top

University of Hartford Campus

The University of Hartford (UHart) is a scenic and suburban 350-acre campus located at the juncture of three municipalities—the City of Hartford, and the towns of Bloomfield and West Hartford. The physical address is 200 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford, Connecticut. For detailed driving directions, visit https://www.hartford.edu/visitingcampus/getting_campus/default.aspx

Click the campus map to see the venues Festival Conference will be utilizing.

NOTE, this is a change from the previous festival.  Parking will be available in the university parking lots for a one-time $25 parking fee per vehicle, and will be payable to the UHART Campus Safety Office. This fee applies to all vehicles, whether you are staying on campus or attending as a commuter.

jump to top

Cancellation Policy

Registration cancellation/refund requests must be made via email to registrar.area1@handbellmusicians.org on or before May 15, 2021. 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.