Director, Al Reese
Al Reese has served as the Musical Director of the Virginia Handbell Consort since January 2008. Al is a retired Army musician, having served over twenty-one years in various Army bands as a trumpet player.
Al has participated in numerous Handbell Musicians of America Festivals, Conferences, and Handbell Exploration events, where he has rung in Advanced Performance Choirs and All-Star choirs.
He has served as a clinician and Massed Conductor at local and Area and National events and was selected Associate Conductor for Distinctly Bronze East in 2015. He is accredited to teach Conducting and Music Theory for the Handbell Musicians of America Certification program.
Al is a published composer and holds a Master of Church Music Degree with concentration in Handbells from Concordia University, Wisconsin where he studied with William Payn, John Behnke, and Arnold Sherman. He is currently an adjunct instructor of music at Norfolk State University and the Music Director and Organist at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Suffolk, VA.
Macy was born and raised in Lexington VA. She married a Lexington native, Dan Coffey, and together raised two sons, Brittigan and Talmadge, both currently living in Montana. Macy grew up in the Lexington Presbyterian Church and rang handbells with the Lam Handbell Choir for 32 years. After 33+ years working at Washington and Lee University, Macy and her husband have retired to Cape Charles VA. Macy enjoys time with her husband and dogs, taking walks, sea glass hunting, and loves to cook. Most of all, Macy enjoys a simple life with simple pleasures. She is low maintenance with easy upkeep.
Having been involved in music since childhood, Lynn has sung in a variety of groups, and played flute in bands, orchestras, and other community groups across the country. She began ringing bells at Chestnut Memorial UMC in 1990 and joined VHC in 2004. While raising three sons, Lynn and her husband Ernie moved frequently, thanks to his 27-year Air Force meteorology career. They are Virginians by choice and new Williamsburg residents, having recently moved from Yorktown where they lived for 30 years. Their family has expanded to include three daughters-in-law, six grandsons, and one granddaughter. Lynn has many interests including quilting, knitting, reading, and beach combing. In addition to VHC, Lynn is a member of Tapestry Handbell Quartet.
Joyce Easter joined VHC in January 2002. Joyce's musical interests began in the fifth grade with the flute. She added the oboe in junior high school, bassoon in high school, and began solo ringing and directing during graduate school. Joyce holds a doctoral degree in Biochemistry and is a Chemistry Professor at Virginia Wesleyan College. Joyce is a New Jersey native, but has moved around the country living in New York, North Carolina, and Illinois before settling down in Virginia Beach with her husband Loran.
Deana started ringing with VHC in 2006. She began her musical journey with piano at age seven and has been ringing handbells since 1976. She previously directed handbell choirs at Trinity Lutheran Church in Newport News and is also a solo ringer. Deana is the mother of three children and grandmother of twelve, and spent her days for over twenty eight years at True Value Hardware in Grafton. The store recently was purchased by Ace Hardware and Deana is now its manager. At other times you can find Deana curled up with a good book!
Cindy Lewis lives in Virginia Beach and works as a sales representative for a local screen printing and embroidery company. Cindy started ringing with her church choir before joining VHC in 1996 and enjoys subbing with various church choirs throughout the area. She regularly rings with the Dan Lovelace Memorial Ringers at Community UMC in Va. Beach and has had the honor of participating in Distinctly Bronze East and the Area III All-Star Choirs. Cindy is a charter member of VHC.
Tammera Missel has always loved music. She started playing piano as a young girl and picked up the clarinet in the 6th grade (only because the band director would not let her start on oboe!). She finally switched to oboe in the 7th grade and continued through her junior year of college, while also playing baritone in marching band. She first started ringing handchimes in middle school at FUMC Kerrville, Texas, and was invited to join the adult handbell choir in 9th grade. After a break from music while serving our country in the U.S. Navy and having a child, she joined one of the handbell choirs at FUMC Round Rock, Texas and continued to grow as a musician. Tammera holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice, and recently was accepted to Liberty University to pursue MA in Music and Worship Studies. When she is not engaged in school work, she enjoys being a stay at home mother, Navy wife, and playing oboe.
As a charter member of VHC, Ann Morgan brings more than twenty-five years of ringing experience to the group. She also rings with Tapestry Handbell Quartet. A native of Newport News, she now lives in Portsmouth with her husband, Arthur. When not ringing handbells, she enjoys quiltmaking and baseball. Go Os!
Debbie Robertson has been part of handbells for many years, starting with the bell choir at her home church in Suffolk, where she still enjoys ringing. VHC offers even more growth and appreciation for the instrument. She loves music and enjoys playing flute as well as bells. Debbie is a retired teacher and reading specialist who worked with the Suffolk Public School system for thirty-nine rewarding years. She is married and the mother of four (two sons, two daughters). The family keeps growing and now includes a granddaughter and grandson (whom she adores and loves to spoil!). The opportunity to ring with VHC is exciting and challenging. The experience of being with such a talented group of musicians is truly rewarding and sharing this music with others is a blessing. Debbie is also a member of Tapestry Handbell Quartet
Richard has been ringing handbells since his college days beginning in 1987. His musical experience began in 1978 when he started learning to play the trombone, which he still plays every week in the Sanctuary Orchestra at Bethel Baptist Church in Yorktown. Richard enjoys listening to organ music, handbell ensembles, and wind ensembles. He also “picks” at the piano, and is an avid bowler. He has a BA in elementary education from Christopher Newport University and a master’s in elementary education from Regent University. Richard is a second-grade teacher at Machen Elementary School in Hampton, and has also taught first, fourth, and fifth grades. He lives in Poquoson with his wife Debbie, their daughter Beth, and two cats.
Amber has recently returned to VHC, after performing with Tintinabulations, Northern Nevada's premier handbell ensemble. Her husband recently retired from the Navy, but while on active duty, took her to live in many exciting locations and she was able to work as a school librarian where ever they were stationed. Amber has musical twin sons who attend GSA, and she now spends all her "spare" time helping out with their various musical activities. During her own musical lifetime Amber has played trumpet, french horn, marimba, euphonium, autoharp for multiple settings, and has recently added ukulele to her skill set. She also directed her church choir for 8 years. Handbells became her passion in 2008 and have slowly taken over her life.
David is the newest member of VHC, joining the group in June 2019. Born and raised in Suffolk, VA, David has been ringing handbells for over 30 years with his church handbell choir, the Joyful Ringers at Bethlehem Christian Church. He started directing the group last November. He has been interested in music for much of his life, learning to play the piano and drums as a teenager. In addition to handbells, David has also performed with his church’s Praise Band, was a member of the Audio-Visual Team, and has DJ’d for school dances, weddings, and other special events. David is an IT Specialist at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, where he has worked for 32 years. He and his wife have two college age children and playing handbells has been a family activity for them. In his spare time, David enjoys kayaking, biking, and traveling, and he and his family have visited all 50 states and 12 foreign countries.
Karen Simons is a charter member of VHC. She moved to the Virginia Beach area in 1991 to take a job at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. It was at this time she was first introduced to handbells. Karen grew up with music as part of her life learning to play the piano (she claims "poorly"), the viola ("not bad"), and singing ("you be the judge"), so learning to ring handbells was a challenge she couldn't resist. She has been ringing for twenty years and can't think of a better way to express yourself in music. Karen also rings with St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Suffolk. As a member of the VHC, Karen has led classes in change ringing and bell techniques for various VHC sponsored clinics and mini-festivals. She currently resides in Chesapeake, Virginia with an assortment of rescued dogs and cats that sometimes fail to appreciate the melodious sounds of bells as she practices!
Welcome back alum Jess Wyatt!
Donna Writesel joined VHC in September 2009. She has been interested in music since her first piano lesson at age six. Born in Portsmouth, VA, she started playing handbells as a youth at her church. She attended TCC with a major in piano and a minor in voice. Donna attends Community UMC where she is the director of the Dan Lovelace Memorial Ringers, The Joyful Noise Ringers, and the Children's Chime Choir. When not directing bells, she enjoys singing in the choir. She lives in Virginia Beach and has one son Tyler, who is currently a commercial truck driver for Bay West. Donna works as an product specialist for a local fiber optics company.