Our Story

 

     On September 22, 1996, an announcement appeared in the local newspaper stating, "handbell group looks for ringers". Forty people answered the call to audition. Founder Tex Minter chose 18 ringers who became charter members for the new Virginia Handbell Consort. The ensemble started with ambitious goals that included a full schedule of 9 Christmas concerts and took the huge step of purchasing a 5-octave set of Schulmerich Bells and a 3-octave set of chimes. Twenty-eight concerts were performed in the first year and lots of fundraisers were held in order to pay for this initial investment. 

 

 Today, VHC owns:

  • 6 octaves of Schulmerich bells

  • 4 additional octaves of Schulmerich bells

  • 3 octaves of Petit and Fritsen bells

  • 7 octaves of Malmark and Schulmerich chimes

  • Percussion equipment that includes wind chimes, wood blocks, triangles, cymbals, etc.

 

In the twenty five years VHC has been a performing ensemble, 253 pieces of music have been performed and 75 ringers have been members.

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Tex Minter, Founding Director

1996-2002

 

VHC Highlights in these years:

December, 1997

       Performed a concert at The Kennedy Center as part of the Millennium Stage concert series

Spring, 1998

       Featured ensemble at Area III, Handbell Musicians of America Festival

December, 1999

       Accompanied the Virginia Symphony Pops in a rendition of "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus"

CD

       “Snowflakes in Bronze”       

Marjorie Setnicky, Director

2002-2005

 

​VHC Highlights in these years:

Spring, 2003

         Featured ensemble at Area III, Handbell Musicians of America Festival

July, 2004

         Performed at The Handbell Musicians of America’s 50th Anniversary Celebration

CDs

         “Ringing in the Holidays”

         “Celebrating the American Spirit”

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            Norman Elton, Interim Director

2005-2006

Norman agreed to step in as director when the position became vacant. Though his term behind the baton was short, his commitment and dedication enabled VHC to continue bringing music of the highest caliber to our audiences.

Agnes French, Director

2006-2008

VHC Highlights in these years:

December, 2006

       Performed 3 pieces as part of a Christmas concert for 1500 people at the Ferguson Center

June, 2007

       Visited the National Cathedral tower and rang bells

CD

       “On This Day”

Commissioned Music

        “Breakaway”, Hart Morris

        “Rise Up Shepard and Follow”, Cynthia Dobrinski

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Al Reese, Music Director

2008-present

VHC Highlights So Far!

May, 2010

       Performed benefit concert for Menchville House

June, 2013

       Performed a concert and taught workshops at Area II Festival, Oswego, NY

August, 2015

        Demonstration choir, Area III Director’s Seminar

April, 2016

        Premiered Virginia Arts Festival’s Carillon

CDs

       “Journey”

       “Jingle Those Bells”

Music written by Al Reese and performed by VHC

        “Duke, Glenn and Woody” [published]

        “A Winter Scene” [published]

        “Jingle Those Bells”

        “A Christmas Festival”

        “Commotion”

        “Bronze Tango”

        “All Through the Night” (Ar Hyd Y Nos)

        “The Shepherd’s Dream” [published]

        "St. James Infirmary Blues"

        "Go Tell It On the Mountain"

Workshops Attended

       Synergy, 2015

       Synergy, 2016

Workshops Hosted by VHC

       Hands on Handbells – a workshop for local ringers

       Read and Ring – annual sight-reading session

       Back to Bells – September, 2016