June 23-25, 2023 | Worcester State University, Worcester, MA

Emily Li

Emily Li
Massed and Tins Choirs

Emily's Bio

Emily Li is a handbell soloist, composer and conductor. She obtained her Bachelor and Master Degrees in music from Hong Kong Baptist University and Chinese University of Hong Kong, majoring in composition. Ms. Li was a lecturer and the handbell director at the Music Department of HK Baptist University from 1997-2004. She is the founder and Artistic Director of Hong Kong Handbell Academy and the Hong Kong Youth Handbell Ensemble; Founder and Music Director of Gloves Handbell, Chairperson of Handbell Association of Hong Kong and Principal Guest Conductor for Ministry of Bellz in Singapore. Her ensembles have performed around the world with high acclaim.

Ms. Li started ringing handbells in 1986 and has since developed an obsession with the instrument. She completed the Graduate Program in Handbells at Concordia University, Wisconsin with many handbell experts, and has attended numerous National Director Seminars in the United States teaching classes, performing as a soloist and serving as the conductor of the All Stars Choir and Distinctly Teens. She was invited by Handbell Ringers of Great Britain to conduct the National Residential Ringing Week in Sheffield, England in 2015, and served as the massed ringing conductor and workshop clinician at the International Handbell Symposiums in Liverpool (2012), Jeju (2014) and Vancouver (2016). She served as the International Conductor for the Youth Festival at the 18th International Handbell Symposium in Cairns, Australia (2018).

Matthew Compton

Matthew Compton
Bronze and Coppers Choirs

Matthew's Biography

Matthew Compton, a native of Colorado Springs, has been composing, arranging, and conducting music for handbells since 2007 when he was in the eighth grade. He had his first composition published at the age of fifteen, making him one of the youngest published handbell composers. Matthew graduated from Concordia University Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music with an emphasis in Composition and Conducting.

Based out of Vancouver, Washington now, he is the music director of the Bells of the Cascades in Portland, Oregon, Director of Music Ministries at Salmon Creek Church in Vancouver. In addition to being a guest clinician at handbell festivals across the country, his music is frequently used at local and national handbell festivals, like the Bay View Week of Handbells and Distinctly Bronze East and West. He has been the recipient of the Donald E. Allured Composition Award.

In his limited spare time, Matthew can be found streaming a variety of games and music performances on Twitch, going hiking, or enjoying any number of movies, anime, or tv shows!



​Handbell Musicians of America, Area 1 will hold its next Festival/Conference from Friday, June 23 through Sunday, June 25, 2023 at Worcester State University. 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 three 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!

What’s New at Festival Conference?

We listened! Taking almost 3 days off from work is difficult for some, and you’ve asked for a shorter conference. For 2023, we’re going to try something different.

1.  Instead of starting on Thursday evening, we’re going to start on Friday at 1pm.  This means only two overnights, and hopefully only needing to take one day off from work. If you are traveling from further away, Thursday evening accommodations may be available, and you can unload your equipment first thing Friday morning.

2. Our Tins Ensembles will attend a hands-on Master Class with Emily Li, who is the founder and Artistic Director of Hong Kong Handbell Academy and the Hong Kong Youth Handbell Ensemble, and has a lot of experience working with beginning ringers and helping them to produce beautiful music together.
a.  This way, the Tins ensembles will have one fewer Massed piece to work on, an optional Massed piece that they can sit out on, AND you’ll get to work on a fun secular piece, City of Stars, arranged by Ron Mallory. No pressure, though… you’ll decide as a group whether or not to perform it, and if so, it will be a surprise entry in Saturday’s concert.

3.  Instead of several mini-concerts, we will have one Feature Concert on Saturday evening. Those wishing to perform as soloists, small ensembles, or full choirs during this time are encouraged to sign up on the Group Registration form. Bronze choirs will perform at the opening concert on Friday evening.

4.  A Classes-Only Option: Is your full ensemble unable to attend Festival/Conference 2023, but you still want the conference experience?  Don’t have the time to prepare the massed music ahead of time? Aren’t ready for the massed ringing experience, but still want to improve your ringing and socialize with other ringers? Then our “Classes-Only” option might be the perfect solution for you! The price per person includes all aspects of Festival/Conference – lodging, meal, concert attendance, tshirt, lapel pin, ability to participate in tracks, and all the classes you want! A limited number of “Classes-Only” spots are available. Register early to claim your spot!

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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.


Sponsorship Opportunities

Information about being a sponsor for Festival/Conference is listed on a separate page.

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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.


  •  Jubilation (3-5 oct, L3+) – Mary Kay Parrish
    • Hope Publishing, HP2184
    • Tins Optional
  • Divenire (3-6 oct, L2+) – Matthew Compton
    • AGEHR Publishing, AG36057 (Digital Download available)
    • Optional Handchimes
  • Cantabile (3-5 oct, L3) – Emily Li
    • AGEHR Publishing, AG35244 (Digital Download available)
    • Optional Handchimes
  • Song of Assurance (2-3 oct, L2) – Arnold Sherman
    • Double choir arrangement (2-3 oct, L2/ 3-5 oct, L2+)
    • Choristers Guild, CGB603 (full), CGB604 (2-3), and CGB605 (3-5)


  • Amen Siakudumisa (2-6 oct + HC, L2) – Cathy Moklebust
    • Choristers Guild: CGB1036 (2-3 oct), CGB1037 (3-6 oct)
    • Accompanying percussion instruments are djembe or congas, caxixi or maracas, and shekere or other large shaker.
  • The Adventure Begins (2-6 oct + opt HC, L2+) – Ron Mallory
    • Jeffers Publishing, JHS9563 (Digital Download available)
    • Optional Percussion (hand drum, windchime, triangle, tambourine)
  • City of Stars (3-5 oct + opt HC, L2) – Ron Mallory
    • Alfred Handbell, AP46261 (Digital Site License available)
    • Tins mini-concert stretch piece


  • Ride On! (3-6 oct, L3) – arr. Brenda Austin
    • Lorenz, LC202102L
  • Ubi Caritas (4-7 oct + opt. HC, L3) – arr. Matthew Compton
    • Evergreen Music, EGM102
  • Glad Adoration (3-7 oct, L4) – Christian Guebert
    • Lorenz, LC202064L (Digital Download available)


  • Outburst (4-7 Oct, L5) – Karen Lakey Buckwalter
    • Beckenhorst Press, BEHB715
    • Optional Orchestra chimes (sub. SMB or White Chapel)
  • Spiritus Sanctus (3-7 oct + opt. HC, L3+)  – Matthew Compton
    • Choristers Guild – CGB1167 (Digital Site License available)
  • My Strength is From Heaven (5-7 oct, L4) – Christian Humcke
    • Choristers Guild – CGB1227 (Digital Site License available)
  • The Winner Takes it All (5-7 oct + HC) – ABBA, arr. Greg Urban
    • Sheet Music Plus – Digital only. Link TBD

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Bronze Division Info for 2023

*Find out if you Pre-Qualify!*

Please visit the special page we have for all things bronze division.

***WE WELCOME BRONZE ORPHANS, TOO!* (Orphans: those who wish to attend, but are not associated with a group that is attending.)

Please visit the special page for individuals wishing to be part of a bronze orphan ensemble.

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Volunteers for Festival/Conference 2023

Consider yourself Asked!  If you can do any of the following things, please contact Lisa Arnold at events.area1@handbellmusicians.org

  • Drivers: We’re looking for people who love to play “Handbell Tetris”! We need drivers to pick up loaner equipment from organizations across New England, then tag, label, and document it. Finally, you get to load it onto a 16’ truck and deliver it to the conference at Worcester State University. Estimated time commitment:
    • Thursday, June 22, 2023: 8:00am to 6:00pm – pick up rental truck & bells
    • Friday, June 23, 2023: 8:00am – 12:00pm (moving equipment into classrooms)
    • Sunday, June 25, 2023: 4:30pm – 6:00pm – load truck for ride home
    • Monday, June 26, 2023: 8:00am – 6:00pm – return bells & rental truck
      NOTE: Truck rental, gas, tolls and dorm room on Thurs & Sun evenings are covered
  • Equipment Roadies: We need help getting the equipment from the staging area to the classrooms on Friday morning and back again on Sunday. If you are willing to help move and set up equipment in the classrooms, please let me know! Time commitment starts at 8am on Friday.
  • Faculty: Do you have a good idea for a class? Are you willing to teach something? If so, contact Stephanie LaShoto-Westfield at s.lashoto@gmail.com
  • If you want to help out, and the job is not listed here, please let us know! All of our committee members can use extra hands, even if just for a few hours during the festival. More opportunities will be posted as we get closer to the event.

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, ballroom dancing, ear training baseball, how to be a one person handbell choir (using the Acapella app), 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.

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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 hundreds of handbell ringers, all ringing in sync under the baton of one director. The visuals are 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.

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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/

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Opening Concert Info

The opening concert  will be on Friday, June 23 from 7:30-9:00 PM In the Wellness Center Competition Gym at WSU, 486 Chandler Street, Worcester, Massachusetts.  The concert will feature our very own Bronze choirs, presenting a combined opening and closing selection, as well as selections from each participating ensemble. If your Bronze Ensemble would like to participate, please contact Lisa at events.area1@handbellmusicians.org.

TBD whether this will be open to the public.

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Closing Concert Info

On Sunday, June 25, from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm, a Closing Concert will be held on the Ringing Floor of the Wellness Center Competition Gym at WSU, 486 Chandler Street, Worcester, Massachusetts.  This concert is free and open to the public and will feature music rung by all the participating ringers!  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].

Worcester State University

The Worcester State University campus is centrally located in Massachusetts and less than a 90 drive from Boston, MA, Providence, RI, Hartford, CT and Concord, NH. The campus is nestled in the residential northwest side of Worcester—the second largest city in New England.

The map below shows where all of our activities will take place:



Housing Description

All non-Commuter conference participants will be housed in Wasylean Hall, which features apartment-style living areas. Most apartments have 2 single rooms and 2 double rooms, housing 6 people per apartment. There are two bathrooms and two shower rooms per apartment. Each apartment is equipped with a kitchen and common area. The kitchen has a full sized refrigerator, sink, and oven/range.


Special Needs/Handicapped Accessibility

​The WSU campus is handicapped accessible. The dining hall, dormitories, classrooms, and ringing arena are close to each other and are handicapped accessible. All apartments have refrigerators in the kitchenette for those who have medication that needs refrigeration. Special dietary, housing or accessibility needs must be detailed during the registration process, as adequate time must be provided to accommodate these needs.


Rooms will include linens for the bed.  A Light Blanket, top sheet, bottom sheet, pillow and pillow case and 2 bath towels are provided. The rooms contain a bed, desk, and dresser.  They are not furnished with toiletries, desk lights, or kitchen housewares. Laundry Rooms are available in each dormitory.


Bathrooms will have shower curtains and toilet paper provided.


(Updated 9/11/2022)


To ensure that Area 1 sponsored events are as safe as possible from the continued spread of the COVID-19 virus, we require all participants to wear a mask at all public indoor venues, regardless of their current vaccination status. Participants will be asked to complete a health evaluation survey within 24 hours of the day of the event.


Audience members will also be strongly encouraged to wear a mask at all indoor venues.

The Area 1 board will revisit this policy and amend it as circumstances change and as required by venue.


By attending/participating, you acknowledge and fully understand the nature and extent of the risk related to the COVID-19 virus and other contagious diseases and agree to attend this event at your own risk. You expressly acknowledge that COVID-19 is highly contagious, and infection can result in death, the risk of infection and transmission are higher in indoor facilities, there are no safety precautions that totally eliminate the risk of contracting COVID-19, and individuals with various underlying medical conditions may experience worse outcomes.

NOTE: Where state, local and/or venue policies vary from the Area 1 policy, the more strict policy will be in effect.


Worcester State University’s COVID-19 Precautions and Policies

In addition to the policy adopted by HMA Area 1 (above), We will be adhering to the Worcester State University requirements based on what phase we are in as a state and nationally.  The Worcester State University updated policies can be found at https://www.worcester.edu/about/conference-event-services/covid-19-requirements/


Registration (pre-registration opens Oct 15)

Step 1: You or your group must have an HMA membership and use the membership number to obtain a group registration number.

All individuals, including those attending on their own or with a partial group, will need a group registration number to register as an attendee.  NOTE: Bronze orphan ringers must first complete and submit a bronze orphan application, and will receive their group registration number when the application is approved.


IMPORTANT NOTE: Worcester State University 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 is needed to be provided during registration.

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Step 2: Housing choices and class selections will be made by each individual completing an Attendee Registration. Individuals will register themselves as an attendee using the group registration number to identify the group of which they are a member.

[for description of housing options see below]


(MUST submit $200**
Deposit by Jan 31)

JAN 31

$400 $450
$470 $520
COMMUTERS $320 $370
$175 $225
$245 $295
EARLY CHECK-IN – Double occ.
+ $35
+ $35
EARLY CHECK-IN – Single occ.
+ $70
+ $70

** SCHOLARSHIPS: If you want to apply for a scholarship and can’t afford the $200 deposit right away, choose the ‘mail in a check’ option before the deadline, and indicate on your mail-in form that you are applying for a scholarship.

What’s Included?

All registered participants will receive a complimentary Festival/Conference t-shirt and lapel pin. Additional charges will apply for music and special workshops. All participants are responsible for purchasing and rehearsing their music for the massed rehearsals ahead of time.

Conference Participants

The registration fees listed above for conference attendees cover housing, all meals from Friday lunch through Sunday lunch, and all tracks, classes, rehearsals, and scheduled events. All dorms are apartment-style with a refrigerator, and a shared bath for 4-6 people. Most apartments have 2 single rooms and 2 double rooms. Additional charges will apply for music and special workshops. All massed ringing participants are responsible for purchasing and rehearsing their music for the massed rehearsals ahead of time. This year, there are a limited number of spots available on the ringing floor, so reserve your spot early!


You may live close to Worcester, MA, or you may prefer to stay in facilities other than college dorms. The Commuter option is a reduced registration fee that will provide you with lunch, dinner and all Festival/Conference activities, but requires that you make your own arrangements for housing and breakfast. 

Chaperones / Non-Ringing Companions

Participants under age 18 must be chaperoned; one adult (age 21+) chaperone must be present for every 6 ringers under 18. Chaperones will meet briefly at the beginning of F/C to learn expectations and emergency and disciplinary procedures. The Chaperone/Companion registration fees listed above cover housing, all meals from Friday lunch through Sunday lunch, and concert attendance. Those registered at this rate may not participate in classes or ring on the festival floor. Non-ringing companions may also register at the Chaperone/Companion rate. 

All dorms are apartment-style with a refrigerator, and a shared bath for 4-6 people. Most apartments have 2 single rooms and 2 double rooms.

Early Check-in

If you are traveling a long distance and can’t arrive by noon Friday morning, we are offering the option to check-in on Thursday evening.  Thursday dinner and Friday breakfast will not be provided.  Check in with our equipment manager for when and where your equipment may be unloaded. Some equipment may need to remain in your vehicle or dorm room overnight.

* EARLY BIRD Deadline for Deposits is January 31.  Final payment of the remainder of the registration fee will be due in February when you complete your Early Bird Registration.

** SCHOLARSHIPS: If you want to apply for a scholarship and can’t afford the $200 deposit right away, choose the ‘mail in a check’ option before the January 15 deadline, and indicate on your mail-in form that you are applying for a scholarship.


Parking is included in your registration fee. All vehicles will park overnight in the parking garage or the lot next to the Wasleyan Hall dorms.

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Cancellation Policy

Registration cancellation/refund requests must be made via email to registrar.area1@handbellmusicians.org on or before May 1, 2023. You will receive a full refund minus a $20 per-participant processing fee. No refunds can be made for cancellations received after May 1.

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.


Rehearsal Notes

Rehearsal notes are important!  They help manage expectations on both sides of the table.

Click here to download the PDF of massed and tins rehearsal notes from Emily Li. [link to come]

Click Here to download the PDF of coppers and bronze rehearsal notes from Matthew Compton. [link to come]

Festival/Conference Schedule

Schedule is listed on a separate page.

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Course Offerings

Class list available on a separate page.

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Festival/Conference Faculty

Faculty for Festival Conference is listed on a separate page.

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