AREA 1 Festival/Conference 2023 FACULTY

Faculty and classes are still subject to change.  Page last updated 2/1/2023.

MARYLIN BECKER (she/her) is the Director of Handbell Ministry at Hancock United Church of Christ in Lexington.  Hancock has a long established and vital bell program that welcomes community participation.  Marilyn brings her background as a choral conductor, teacher, and organist to the bell program, and will commonly sneak in some music theory lessons to bell rehearsals.  She has a degree from New England Conservatory in piano performance, and a Masters of Sacred Music from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ. She has taught private lessons as well, and in addition to her long career as a church musician, has taught in a performing art high school, and worked as an accompanist for community choirs. Her daughters are both string players, so she has been able to learn all the major repertoire for violin and cello!  Marilyn loves to work with musicians of all ages and abilities, and finds bell ringing to be a great medium for building community through music making.DIANE BURKE (she/her) was inspired to take up bellringing by her mom over 30 years ago, and began her ringing career with the Sudbury Bellringers of Memorial Congregational Church in Sudbury MA. She is a charter member of the Merrimack Valley Ringers, an auditioned community choir with whom she still currently rings. Diane is the director of the Joyful Ringers at First Church Congregational in Marlboro MA, the Lincoln Ringers of First Parish in Lincoln MA, and the Sudbury Bellringers. She has assisted 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-creator of the Acton MA Fall Skill-Building/Rep Reading workshop, and has either taught or directed there each year since its inception. Diane is currently on the Board of the Merrimack Valley Ringers, and has served as the Area 1 Board Secretary for 2 terms. When not ringing or directing, Diane competes in ballroom dancing, sings gospel music, supports a menagerie of outdoor critters, and is a passionate fan of NFL football.

SUSAN CAPESTRO (she/her) earned degrees from Ithaca College and Northwestern. She conducts the Jubilee Ringers, at First Church of Christ, Congregational, in Bedford, MA. Susan is an eclectic clinician and award-winning composer who has toured with African musicians, performed with swing bands and symphony players and contributed articles to magazines.

HOLLY CERULLO (she/her) 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 school 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 attended 18 Festival Conferences in Area 1, several National and International events, led many handbell workshops in Area 1, and was the Chair of the Chime Loaner Program from 2009-2019. Having retired in 2004 after 35 years of teaching middle school, she now has more time for gardening, travel, missions, and of course, handbell events.

SUE CHAMBERLIN (she/her) was introduced to handbells at a Christmas dinner in 1980 and has been ringing, directing, and teaching handbells since then.  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.

BILL DEGAN (he/his) 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 at 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 is also a retired high school physics teacher.

JEAN DEGAN (she/her)has been using her degrees in Music Education, Organ Performance and Liturgical Music working in Catholic Churches for the past 40+ years.  She has had as many as 5 handbell choirs and 3 vocal choirs at one time while playing all the weekend Masses and working with 12 volunteer cantors.  She works in the parish school directing 2 handbell choirs for the 8th grade music class.

Jean has been Chair of Area 1 as well as chair of a Festival Conference.  She has also worked on many committees for the area as well as the National organization.  Jean presently rings with Shoreline Ringers.

SUSAN EWING (she/her) has been ringing handbells for over 25 years, starting in middle school with a church choir. She has been ringing with Shoreline Ringers since 2017 and loves playing in different positions and the teamwork involved in making the difficult passages sound musical. She can now ring almost any position and doesn’t have a favorite – though she does appreciate playing in positions where one can use four in hand instead of a weave to make a tricky passage work. Outside of bells, she enjoys crafts, woodworking and the outdoors.

GRIFF GALL (he/him) is the founding artistic director of the Back Bay Ringers, a community handbell ensemble in Boston, Mass.  He has presented workshops in handbell pedagogy, conducting, and Orff Schulwerk at local and national handbell and music education conferences, and is co-author of “Ring, Dance, Play, first experiences with Choirchimes and Orff Schulwerk” published by GIA.

CHRIS HAZEL (he/him), a resident of Lowell, Massachusetts, has studied and played percussion since his Jr. High days in the early 80’s.  He’s studied percussion with Jim Lattini, Jeff Fischer, and Nancy Smith.  With an early background in marching percussion and drum set work, he earned his BA in Music Theory at UNH in the mid 90’s and has since focused heavily on orchestral performance.  Currently, Mr. Hazel is the principal timpanist with the The Brookline Symphony Orchestra and a percussionist for the Bay Colony Brass.  For more than 20 years he has performed with many other groups including the Metro West Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Pro Musica, The Refugee Orchestra Project, the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra, the Seacoast Community Chamber Orchestra, the Dudley House Orchestra, the Lowell House Opera, and the Mercury Symphony, as well as numerous other engagements in musical theater and choral groups.  Aside from freelancing as widely as his schedule allows, he currently earns his living at a large engineering firm in Boston as a data analyst.

KAREN JAMES (she/her) of 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 ringing 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, with 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 has 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.

KATHY KONKLE (she/her) and ALLYSON PRINTZ (she/her) ring at First Church of Christ, Congregational in Bedford.  They have way too many sewing odds and ends and are glad to share them for t-shirt artistic interpretation.

EMLEE C. KOHLER (she/her) has been ringing handbells for 45 years.  She discovered her passion for bass bells in 1977, ignoring the old adage “Never ring bells bigger than your head.” Since moving to New Hampshire in the mid ‘90s, Emlee has rung with a number of church groups, the Raleigh Ringers in Virtuoso, several all-star choirs, and at both Bay View and Carnegie Hall. She was a founding member of the Granite State Ringers. Emlee is currently ringing with the Back Bay Ringers in Boston MA, and still prefers to ring bells bigger than her head. When she’s not ringing, she knits, solves logic puzzles, and is raising two Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppies – who ironically don’t seem to be able to ring a bell when they need to go out.

LAUREN LARSON (she/her) plays high treble, even if she can’t sing it. She loves the challenge of reading/ringing octaves, complex melody lines, and making all those extra bells behave. Her experience ringing treble and in a quartet with Shoreline Ringers since 2006 has allowed her to pick up some tricks of the trade over the years. She works as an engineer and project manager during the day, plays bells with her husband Pete, raises two cool kids, and makes time for herself for exercise and side projects.

PETE LARSON (he/him) 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 be seen near the front row of concerts watching daddy (and mommy!) play bells.

DEBRA LEBRUN (she/her) received her B. Mus. from Syracuse University and her M.M. in Organ Performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign.  Originally from Massachusetts, Debra moved to Roanoke to become the Director of Music and Worship at Raleigh Court United Methodist Church after serving for 24 years at the Congregational Church of Littleton in Massachusetts.  At Raleigh Court UMC she plays the organ, and directs the church’s singing choirs, handbell choirs, and instrumental groups. Debra also directs the Mill Mountain Ringers, a community handbell choir in Roanoke, VA.  Debra has been performing as a solo ringer for about 12 years after performing in ensembles and in a duet team for many years. Her handbell ringing has taken her around the country and the world performing in concert tours and at handbell festivals, including six International Handbell Symposiums. Debra served for many years on the Area 1 HMA board, has organized and served as a clinician at many handbell events, and currently is on the Area 3 board.

SUE LEE (she/her) first rang in the late 1970s, and was soon asked to direct the handbells choirs at a previous church, at a time when repertoire was quite limited. When she changed churches 25 years ago, Sue founded the Handbell ministries at St. Matthew’s UMC, Acton, MA, starting with 3 octaves of bells and chimes, now directing her 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 in Elementary Education and becoming a fourth grade teacher, now retired. Her other interests are playing her trumpet, baroque recorders, quilting, reading, pickle ball, or just enjoying time with family and friends. Sue has enjoyed ringing with the Merrimack Valley Ringers for 14 years.

KAREN E. LEONARD  (she/her) is the founding and 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 54th year as Minister of Music at West Chelmsford United Methodist Church in North Chelmsford, MA where she directs a graded choral and handbell program 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, two lovely daughters-in-law, and two awesome grandchildren.”

CADE MURRAY (he/him) is the executive director of Back Bay Ringers in Boston. Cade began ringing handbells in 1989 at the First United Methodist Church in Winter Park, FL, both as an ensemble ringer and a solo ringer. Since then he has rung with a number of groups, including Bay Bells in the San Francisco area, and joined Back Bay Ringers in 2010. Cade graduated from MIT with a degree in Materials Science and Engineering and worked in the semiconductor industry for years before deciding to stay home and homeschool his two daughters. Cade has combined his love of music, science, and education on several occasions by giving talks on the physics and acoustics of bells, at high schools and other venues. He currently resides in Cambridge, where he also serves on the board of the Cambridge Forum, and as Vice-Chair of First Parish in Cambridge Unitarian Universalist.

JANE NOLAN (she/her) is the music director at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Gales Ferry, CT and the director of Bells of Fire and Shoreline Ringers, two community Handbell ensembles in southeastern CT. She has been directing handbells for over 30 years and has directed the High School Ring Out, a number of spring rings and workshops, the Area 1 Youth Festival, the Boston Handbell Festival and the Area 1 Winter Workshop.

Shoreline Ringers, her advanced community handbell ensemble, has performed at Carnegie Hall, on WSFB Channel 3 in Hartford for the Scott Haney Christmas Show, with the U.S. Coast Guard Band for their Christmas concerts, and this last July as the opening concert for Handbell Musicians of America National Seminar in Phoenix, AZ.

Jane’s degree is in music education from Skidmore College and she has studied handbells with Don Allured at the Hartt School of music. She enjoys doing hand chime programs with the local elementary schools in her area and teaches private piano lessons. She served as the membership chair of Area 1 for over 15 years and was awarded the Area 1 Margaret H. Shurcliff Leadership Award in 2021.

EVIE SESSIONS (she/her) started ringing handbells in 1995 with the Klipnocky Klangers in Oneonta, NY. She rang with several bronze-level choirs through the years before moving to Boston and finding a home with the Merrimack Valley Ringers in 2013. She works as a program administrator and teaches professional writing at Brandeis University. When she’s not ringing, Evie enjoys hiking and indoor gardening.

JENNIFER STACK (she/her) is the Chair Elect for Area 1 and also serves as our Chime Loan Chair. In addition to her duties on the Area 1 board, she is a part of the HMA education committee and is dedicated to getting bells out of closets and into the hands of ringers young and old. She runs an adult and youth choir at her church as well as an afterschool program at the school where she teaches PreK during the day. When not ringing or directing(ha!), she loves knitting and hanging out with her husband Mike and tuxedo cat Bronx at home. She’s also the author of several children’s books and a handful of knitting patterns. 

KIMBERLEE STREPKA (she/her) 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). Kim holds music education degrees from the Hartt School of Music, the University of Massachusetts, and Boston University. She is the Head of School at United Christian Academy in Newport, VT, where she has been directing the school’s advanced handbell ensemble, the Bronze Ambassadors, for more than 20 years. The Bronze Ambassadors have made appearances at local, regional, and national HMA events, as well as performed multiple concerts with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. Kim is also a published handbell arranger bringing the orchestral and choral music of Dan Goeller to the handbell community.

JOYCE TERRY (she/her) was a founding member of Anacrusis Handbell Ensemble, a group that played with two to six ringers on over 5 octaves of bells and four octaves of chimes. Anacrusis has performed and taught at Area festivals and performed at Pinnacle in Nashville, Tennessee. Joyce was a member for over 20 years. Joyce is also the founder and director of Chesapeake Bronze which has morphed from a full handbell ensemble to a small ensemble over the past 19 years. She became aware of solo ringing a year after discovering handbells and performed her first solo, a medley of four pieces, by the end of her second year of ringing. After that she was hooked on solo and small ensemble ringing. Joyce has taught at Area II and III festivals as well as a number of local workshops in Maryland and Virginia. She has been fortunate to tour internationally with Bells in Motion and Distinctly Bronze, performing throughout Europe. Joyce has the singular distinction of being the only ringer to attend all Distinctly Bronze events on both coasts since its inception in 1999. In addition, she is a past Area III board member. In her spare time, Joyce is a CPA and has worked in that capacity with non-profit organizations for over 35 years.

JOY TOLL-CHANDLER (she/her) has been playing and directing handbells 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. Joy is learning more about solo and ensemble ringing, and loves the challenge of composing music for handbell choirs. She has two pieces published by AGEHR. She is also accredited as a faculty instructor for Level 1 Handbell Certification Theory and Conducting.

Joy is a retired United Methodist pastor, having served churches in ME, VT, and MA. She also spent close to 10 years in FL, where she worked in Music and Worship arts, directing a variety of choral and handbell choirs. Joy and her husband Paul have retired to the coast of Maine, and are enjoying the joys of grandparenting, walking, exploring lighthouses, doing puzzles, and living life “post” (?) covid.

GREG URBAN (he/him) is a handbell musician and arranger based in Salem, MA. Greg has been ringing for 23 years, and currently rings with the Back Back Ringers (Boston, MA), and Sonos Handbell Ensemble (Oakland, CA). When not ringing, Greg arranges pop music for fun (check out Sheet Music Press!), including The Winner Takes It All for FC2023! When not doing bell-related activities, Greg is a trainer and facilitator at Project Adventure, designing team-development programs using a low and high ropes course in Beverly, MA. He enjoys finding new songs to arrange for handbells, his husband’s amazing cooking, and finding new places to hang a hammock.

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, both 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 WALLACE (he/him) of North Stonington, CT, is the Music and Worship Arts Director at the Dunn’s Corners Community Church, Presbyterian, in Westerly, RI where he has spent twenty six 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.

GINA MARIE WILLIAMS (she/her) is the Director of Music and Worship Technology at St. Luke Lutheran Church, Gales Ferry CT leading an extensive music program consisting of five handbell choirs (kindergarten through senior adults) and the vocal choir.  She is a proficient arranger of both handbells and instrumental music with two handbell pieces currently published through “From the Top Publishing”.

An accomplished flutist, she also performs on clarinet, oboe, bassoon, and alto & tenor saxophones.

MARTIN WINTER (he/him) graduated from London School of Economics and Goldsmiths College and had a successful career in high school education. After 17 years as a Vice Principal, he retired in 2017. He was introduced to Handbells in 1980 and his role in the early years was as an all-purpose ringer in a variety of positions. In 2000 the purchase of a 5 octave set of bells allowed him to discover and develop his real ringing passion as a bass ringer. He rings with The Wandle Ringers and HRGB South East Region Bell Orchestra, he has attended every international symposium since 1998, all of the biannual UK Bronze events, and a number of HMA national events. In 1997 when Sandra was invited to conduct in Japan and went to learn Japanese, he had to step in as Director of Sanderstead All Saints Ringers, his church handbell team, a role he continues to this day.  Martin has been a member of HRGB South East region committee for over 25 years and is a past Chair. He was a member of HRGB ‘s National Executive Committee for 16 years and has recently been appointed as the Event Co-ordinator for the 2026 International Symposium to be held in the UK.

SANDRA WINTER (she/her) graduated from Trinity College of Music, London and Goldsmiths’ College, University of London as a music teacher. She has taught all age groups from pre-school and nursery through to adult, and been involved in school, church and community handbell ringing for nearly fifty years. She has directed The Wandle Ringers, a large community group in Surrey, UK, for thirty six years, and is the joint conductor of the Handbell Ringers of Great Britain (HRGB) South East Region Bell Orchestra. She performs concerts, demonstrations and talks to many groups and societies as a solo and duet ringer, including a costumed demonstration of Victorian solo ringing, based on her research into the history of the art in 19th century England. She is a published composer and arranger of handbell music, and regularly takes classes and conducts, both in the UK and at International Symposia, where she has been the HRGB massed ringing conductor in Japan in 1998 & 2010, Korea in 2002 & 2014, and for the planned event in Hong Kong 2020. Sandra was honored to conduct Festival choirs at both the 30th and 40th Anniversary celebrations of the Handbell Ringers of Japan.  Sandra was the National Secretary of HRGB for sixteen years and was conferred Honorary Life Member in 2011. She is a past Chairman and current Secretary of the South East Region. Her ‘day job’ is with Bells of Whitechapel Ltd.

RICK WOOD (he/him) is a retired elementary school teacher of computers and technology with a secret night life in the handbell world as Director of Music for Chime In! Music With a Mission. (The hottest thing going in the little town of Bethlehem on Friday night is handbell rehearsal.) Ringers from Bethlehem have engaged many audiences throughout New England in lively performances and in 2015, Rick led handbell ringers from around New England to Carnegie Hall.