The Bethany College Handbell Ensemble is an auditioned ensemble open to students across campus. The purpose of this ensemble is to learn and perfect ringing techniques, to improve ensemble playing, and to explore new and exciting repertoire. The knowledge gained from this ensemble will help to prepare students to serve as handbell directors and ringers in their community.
The group performs at the annual Jultide concert, the Christmas Vespers service, as well as area churches. In addition, the Bethany College Handbell Ensemble has performed concerts in Minneapolis, Kansas and Colby, Kansas. The ensemble has twice been selected to perform at the KMEA conference in Wichita, Kansas.
The Bethany College Genesis Ringers is a companion group to the Bethany College Handbell Ensemble. Open to all students, particularly to students who have had little or no ringing experience, this group focuses on the varied techniques of handbell ringing and ensemble playing. The group performs at chapel services and at the Bethany College Handbell Ensemble/Genesis Ringers concert in the spring.
History of Handbells at Bethany
The history of the Bethany College handbell program can be traced back to 1989 when Dr. Eugene Holdsworth visited the Malmark factory in Pennsylvania. A substantial gift given by family and friends of Elsie Thrasher Baber, Myrtle Nelson, and James Fowlin allowed the college to purchase the first three octave set of handbells along with cases, pads and tables.
The fourth octave with pads, tables and accessories was presented by members of the Bethany College Class of 1954 on the occasion of their 40th anniversary in 1994.
The fifth octave set was presented in 1995 in memory of Greta Nelson Carlson by her husband, The Rev. Dr. James L. Carslon, class of 1954, and family.
A two octave set of choir chimes was added in 2007 in honor of Dr. Melody Steed by Thomas Pavlechko.
Eunice Tarum served as the first handbell director for a performance in 1989, returning to full directorship in 1994 until the spring of 2001. A well known handbell director and ringer in the Kansas community, Mrs. Tarum has continued to serve as an invaluable resource to the Bethany Handbell Ensemble to the present day.
In addition, several students have led the Bethany College Handbell Ensemble including Chris Peck, Nara Newcomer, Scott Bley and Audrey Yosai. Under their leadership and the subsequent leadership of Dr. Melody Steed, the program at Bethany College has grown to include two groups, the Bethany College Handbell Ensemble and the Genesis Ringers, led by student directors.
The groups perform at the annual Jultide concert, the Christmas Vespers service, as well as area churches. In addition, the Bethany College Handbell Ensemble has performed concerts in Minneapolis, Kansas, and Colby, Kansas. The ensemble has twice been selected to perform at the KMEA conference in Wichita, Kansas.
Melody Turnquist-Steed is an assistant professor of music at Bethany College. Her responsibilities include teaching organ and music theory, as well as serving as the chapel organist and coordinator of sacred music.
A native Iowan, Steed received her bachelor’s degree in organ performance from the University of Northern Iowa and her master’s from the University of Cincinnati. Steed received her doctorate degree from the University of Southern California. She has studied organ with Marilou Kratzenstein, Jesse Eschbach, Roberta Gary and Cherry Rhodes.
Prior to her appointment at Bethany, Steed served as the organist at the prestigious Westwood United Methodist Church where she presided at the Shaffer Memorial Organ.
An active recitalist, she has been a featured performer at regional and national conventions of the American Guild of Organists. In January 2006, she was a featured soloist for the National Public Radio program Pipe Dreams Live!, performing Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in A Minor, BWV 551.
Along with trumpeter Keith Benjamin, she performs in the trumpet/organ duo, Clarion. The duo has recorded two compact discs Clarion, New Music for Trumpet and Organ (1994), and New Vintage (2001). Steed has performed as an organ soloist and as a member of Clarion in both Hungary and Romania.