Guest Conductors

Debbie Rice – March18,  2018

Internationally acclaimed conductor, Debbie Rice draws on her vast experience as a professional singer, educator, choral conductor and passion for teaching to encourage high musical standards for the handbell and handchime instrument. Her degrees are in music education, opera and musical theater. She has also studied early music and conducting. Debbie maintains a demanding travel schedule as clinician, adjudicator and conductor. Her international assignments have included Australia, Canada, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Israel, Korea, Japan, The Netherlands, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan and of course the United States. In May 2019 she conducts an international festival tour to Spain.

Currently, as an Adjunct Professor for Concordia University of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada she conducts multiple handbell ensembles, teaches: applied voice, applied solo ringing, academic classes in music education, music theory and serves as assistant conductor for choral ensembles.

Her recent professional experience has included Director of Handbell Ministries: Becks Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, NC; Artistic Director: New River Ringers, Independence, VA and various church programs in Edmonton. Her handbell ensembles have recorded CDs and she has been a featured soloist on CD’s with choral ensembles.

With the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers (rebranded as Handbell Musicians of America in 2011), she chaired numerous committees and held elected offices on the National Board as Area III Chair, National Secretary and National President. In 2014 she was awarded Honorary Life, the Guilds highest honor. Debbie is Past Executive Director of the International Handbell Committee.

June 3, 2018 – Guest Conductor – Dr. William A. Payn

Dottie Tweedie – December 2017

Dottie Tweedie recently retired from the life of a church music director after over 25 years of service to finally enjoy some free Sundays. She came home to New Kent County in 1975 to take over the directing duties at Bethlehem Presbyterian Church in Old Church (Hanover Co.). It was while at Bethlehem that she first encountered handbells when a church member said, “I just heard the most wonderful thing at the church I was visiting last week! We have to get some handbells… here’s $800 to get it started!” Charged with learning everything she could about bells, raising funds and recruiting the first bell choir, Bethlehem acquired their 3 oct. of Schulmerich bells in 1989. She then went on to serve as music director for Redeemer Moravian Church and for Bethany Christian Church.

Dottie is the founding director of The James River Ringers, an auditioned community group based in Richmond, VA. She has taught a variety of classes at Handbell Musicians of America’s Area III Adult Festivals, Directors Seminars and Bravissimo!, and had led JRR’s many Ringer Workshops for beginning and advanced ringers. She also served as the guest conductor for the Genesis track at HMA’s Ocean City Festival in March of 2011. In addition, she supports individual directors and choirs by providing customized workshops. She was instrumental in establishing Bravissimo!, Area III’s event dedicated to community and performing groups, and has twice served as program chair for that event.

In 2016 she handed over JRR’s baton to newly hired Lynn Atkins although she is still active in supporting the group. At the end of 2016 she retired from her real job of working as the office manager for a residential building contractor.

Nick Hanson – October 2017

Nick Hanson received a BA degree from Concordia University, Irvine, CA, as a major in music with concentration in handbells. He is in his twelfth year as the director of handbell ensembles at the Potomac School in McLean, Virginia, teaching instrumental music to 5th – 12th grade students in four handbell ensembles. He is also in his tenth year as the handbell director at Bush Hill Presbyterian Church in Alexandria. 

Nick has served as faculty, clinician, and conductor at handbell events in 13 states, Washington DC, and internationally in Hong Kong and Taiwan. In 2015, Nick was chosen as the first-ever Associate Conductor for Distinctly Bronze, under the mentorship of renowned conductor, Dr. William A. Payn. Also in 2015, Nick conducted the Distinctly Teen ensemble at the Handbell Musicians of America National Seminar in Dallas, Texas. Nick has been invited by the Ministry of Bellz, the premier handbell ensemble of Singapore, as the 2018 guest conductor for the concert “Showtime”. He will also be the co-conductor for the 2018 All-Star Handbell Ensemble at the National Seminar in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has written articles for the national handbell magazine “Overtones”, and has arranged and composed over 40 pieces of handbell music.