Under the artistic direction of Brenda E. Austin, the Detroit Handbell Ensemble (DHE) is known for its creative and thematic programming and artistic expression. Members of the auditioned choir live throughout southeastern Michigan and enjoy sharing beautiful handbell music with audiences of all ages.
The ensemble, which began in 1991 with founding director Susan Berry, is an auditioned handbell choir that provides both educational and performance opportunities for southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio. Gifted organist and clinician Dr. Michael Burkhardt provided musical direction from 2010 to 2016 and talented handbell music composer Austin became the Artistic Director in Fall 2016.
Past DHE performances include Noel Night in downtown Detroit, a combined concert with Embellish Handbell Ensemble of Grand Rapids, a concert in Pease Auditorium at Eastern Michigan University, and appearances on the concert series of several local churches and libraries. The choir also has provided guest performances with the Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra and the Orchard Lake Philharmonic Orchestra. As part of their 20th anniversary celebration, the group commissioned composer Cathy Moklebust who wrote Campanae Celebrare (Celebrate with Bells) in honor of the occasion. A member of the Handbell Musicians of America (HMA), DHE has participated in and performed for national and area events.
Education always has been instrumental in DHE’s mission and is a part of every concert. For several years, an annual Bell Fest provided an opportunity for other area handbell ensembles to work and perform with DHE, creating an educational experience for all involved! The ensemble also has conducted workshops, held open rehearsals, performed at local elementary schools and sponsored the hearts,hands and voices fine arts program for children in grades 2-7 in Livonia.
The Detroit Handbell Ensemble’s first CD was released the end of 2015 and contains many of the ensemble’s favorite pieces including recently published handbell repertoire, spiritual arrangements and Campanae Celebrare, the commissioned composition by Cathy Moklebust premiered at its 20th anniversary concert. DHE is proud of its final product and believes it is a significant contribution to the body of available handbell recordings.
The Detroit Handbell Ensemble includes members who are musicians, educators and business professionals from across southeastern Michigan. The group rehearses one evening a week during the academic year. For information about how you can become the newest member, please see our website.
DHE performs on five octaves of Malmark handbells (plus a D8) and choirchimes™. The ensemble is grateful to Celebration Lutheran Church in Westland for providing it (and all the equipment!) with a rehearsal home.