The Detroit Handbell Ensemble will open its 2019-20 season by co-hosting the Eaton Rapids Handbell Festival November 2 at the First United Methodist Church of Eaton Rapids, Michigan. Under the direction of Brenda Austin and Kyle Webber, participants from nine church ensembles and DHE will perform a closing festival concert open to the public at 2:30pm.
Austin, DHE artistic director and the director of music at the Eaton Rapids church, founded the annual festival with Webber in 2012. Webber is the director of music ministries at Nardin Park United Methodist Church in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and a national board member of the Handbell Musicians of America.
Also a published handbell composer and arranger, Austin said she created the Festival to provide a mass-ringing environment for groups who desire additional opportunities to grow their handbell ringing skills. “The Eaton Rapids Handbell Festival has been a wonderful day for us to learn from each other,” she said. “As ringers gather from various churches, we learn new techniques in a low-pressure, positive environment. Ringers are also able to attend classes to hone their techniques. At the concert, we are able to share what we’ve learned and hear a few solo performances.”
During the day-long festival, the 100+ handbell ringing participants will rehearse in mass ringing sessions and attend technique workshops led by DHE members.
Music education is an important component of the DHE mission, DHE Board Chair Nancy Plumley said. "DHE is dedicated to promoting handbell music through concerts and educational events held throughout the local community,” Plumley added. “From the very young to the young-at-heart, handbells and handchimes offer great opportunities for musical development and camaraderie.”
The FUMER Church is located at 600 South Main Street in Eaton Rapids, Michigan.