Bells of the Lakes was founded in 1996 to promote musical excellence through the medium of handbells. It also provides an opportunity for highly skilled English handbell ringers to perform advanced level music. Membership is by audition and is community wide. The conductor, William H. Mathis, Minister of Music and Fine Arts at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis, is a nationally known conductor and arranger of handbell and choral music.
Bells of the Lakes performs public concerts, records demonstration CDs of newly published handbell music and organizes local educational events. The ensemble commissions original compositions for handbells from known and emerging composers and offers premiere performances of new musical arrangements for English handbells. They have produced and recorded three compact discs. The first, BELLS OF THE LAKES, features classical and contemporary handbell music ranging from “Pie Jesu” from the Fauré Requiem to “Georgia on my Mind” by Hoagy Carmichael. RING THE BELLS OF CHRISTMAS features familiar arrangements of Christmas repertoire.
The third CD, BELLS OF THE LAKES CELEBRATES 10 YEARS, features favorite pieces from our first decade. Highlights include a Handel Sonata with oboist John Snow of the Minnesota Orchestra, “Classical Gas” by Mason Williams, and “Waiting for the Robert E. Lee” with BOTL’s own Nancy Einertson on accordion. Each CD is for sale for $15.00 at concerts and from our website.
Bells of the Lakes performed at the International Symposium of English Handbell Ringers in Birmingham, England in 2000. The group was also a featured concert ensemble at Pinnacle, a symposium of community handbell ensembles, in Orlando, Florida in 2002. In July, 2006, Bells of the Lakes performed the closing concert at the AGEHR Directors’ Seminar in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
To fulfill its commitment to education, Bells of the Lakes organizes two major educational events each year. Bells of the Lakes BellFest! is a one day massed ringing event for over thirty handbell ensembles. Held each winter, it features nationally known and local guest conductors. The Seminar for Beginning Handbell Ringers and Directors is a summer event featuring classes to encourage and educate new handbell ensemble directors and ringers.
Bells of the Lakes is a fully qualified charity under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and as such accepts tax deductible donations.
The Musical Director
William H. Mathis is Minister of Music and Fine Arts at the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis. In addition to his work at church, Bill is an active clinician in both the choral and handbell fields, giving special emphasis to teaching rehearsal technique and musicianship. He has been the conductor of AGEHR’s National Festivals and Directors’ Seminar, as well as many events at the local and regional levels. Bill is the founding music director of Bells of the Lakes. His compositions are found in the catalogs of thirteen publishers, and his 3-volume series of books on the creative use of handbells in worship (After the Prelude) is published by Choristers Guild.