Springfield Festival Clinicians & Performers

Why, oh why, have I chosen these people? Monica McGowan, and Cathy Moklebust? Perhaps I like the letter “M?”

Monica McGowan is the Godmother of Handbells. I hired her to conduct a Festival/ Conference in 2009 in Orono, Maine, and she was a powerhouse of awesome. First, she is a teacher; second, she is a musician; third, she is a Goddess of the baton. You will be smarter, more musical, and more in touch with the divine after dealing with Monica. She was, until recently, the Artistic and Musical Director of Twin Cities Bronze, and is an absolute expert on the topic of Schulmerich Handbells. Also, she lives on a ranch.

Cathy Moklebust is the most passionate person I have ever met. Her original compositions for handbells have rocketed our instrument into the 21st century, and given a reason and meaning for all of our classes in musicality and technicality. She was my immediate choice to write the Cheryl Abney commission, and she will make you ring at a level you didn’t know was possible. And she can sing in Norwegian. Also, she lives on a beautiful farm in Eagle Grove, Iowa.

Bringing these two people to conduct and teach is a major part of the expense of running a Festival/Conference, so it is not a decision to be taken lightly. I give you my word that these two people represent what is the best in our instrument, in our Guild, and in our world today. Do yourself and your choir a favor, and register soon for Ring in the Land of Lincoln, the Handbell Musicians of America 2016 Festival/Conference of Area 8.

Patrick Gagnon ~ Area 8 Chair


Cathy Moklebust_ 091CATHY MOKLEBUST has developed and directed handbell music programs since 1983, and has played bells since childhood. With her dynamic, positive approach and skilled conducting, she is in national demand as a handbell clinician and festival conductor. As one of today’s most popular handbell music composers, she has numerous published compositions and arrangements to her credit, many of them reaching best seller status. She has been commissioned to write music for festivals and other events, as well as for many individual handbell ensembles, including nine for the Raleigh Ringers.

Cathy has been the recipient of the Donald E. Allured Composition Award, the “Composer of the Year” award from Jeffers Handbell Supply, and has won an ASCAP Writer’s Award every year since 2001.

Ms. Moklebust is an active percussionist, and has performed as principal or section percussionist with several professional and community bands and orchestras throughout the upper Midwest, currently playing with the Karl L. King Municipal Band of Fort Dodge, IA since 1997. Cathy has played in and conducted church and community handbell ensembles in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa, most recently founding the North Central Iowa Handbell Ensemble. Since 1989, she has worked in the music retail and publishing industry, and currently operates Moklebust Music Services, a music editing and engraving service with her husband.

Cathy earned both her B.A. (Music/Percussion) and M.Ed. (Teacher Education/Music) at South Dakota State University, in her hometown of Brookings, South Dakota. Her handbell education began in 1970 with the Towers Handbell Choir of First Lutheran Church in Brookings, under the direction of Barbara Berntson.

Ms. Moklebust and her husband David reside in rural Eagle Grove, Iowa, on her husband’s 1895 family farm.


monica mcgowanMONICA McGOWAN took her music education background – Bachelor of Science, Music Education, Chadron State College, Chadron, Nebraska – and found her life’s passion in handbells.  Three decades later, Monica has become the consummate handbell musician:  accomplished ringer, seasoned director and internationally recognized clinician and conductor.  She is in demand for festivals and workshops across the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada.  She has served as Director of Handbells in various denominational churches from Minnesota to Louisiana and in various leadership and educator capacities for the Handbells Musicians of America on both the Area and National levels.

As the founding Artistic and Music Director of Twin Cities Bronze of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, Monica led the ensemble to recognition as an internationally acclaimed handbell ensemble known for its professional musical artistry.  She currently serves as the Handbell Coordinator for the International Music Camp, succeeding the program’s founder, Fred Merrett.  “Handbell Week” and “Adult Handbell Camp” are held each summer as part of the IMC’s Summer School of Fine Arts at the International Peace Gardens on the border of North Dakota and Manitoba.  She opened her business, Ringing Restorations, in January 2004 and has achieved the title of distinction, Master Technician, in the repair and maintenance of handbells and handchimes.

Monica brings her extensive training, passion, knowledge and enthusiasm for handbells and handchimes to every forum and venue, providing a challenging, successful and fun experience for its participants.


Performances by Rezound! and Bells in Motion.

Rezound! Handbell Ensemble is an auditioned community ensemble with members from throughout the greater Kansas City metro.

  In addition to a year-round concert schedule in the Kansas City region, Rezound! has enjoyed successful tours throughout the Midwest and has collaborated with area choral groups and other handbell choirs in a variety of concert settings. The ensemble also performs with the Kansas City Symphony and Symphony Chorus on their annual Christmas Festival concerts and has presented concerts at Area 8 Festivals and at Pinnacle 2015 in Dallas.

Rezound! members share a passion for creating exceptional music and promoting the art of this versatile instrument. The group performs a wide variety of musical styles, from classical and sacred to jazz and show tunes, with a lively and unique sound that integrates the varied timbres of the different handbell instrumentation.


BellsinMotionBells in Motion is a progressive handbell ensemble based in Springfield, IL. Formed in 1997, the members of the group join by audition and hail from Illinois, Missouri, Texas and Wisconsin. They have performed at many notable venues and festivals in the US, Canada, and Europe, continually bringing audiences to their feet.

The ensemble combines seven octaves of bronze and aluminum handbells and chimes, string bass, drums and other musical instruments. They perform music ranging from jazz to classical, big band to blues, Broadway to rock, and sacred to original compositions written especially for this thrilling group of performers and their instrument.

Bells in Motion electrifies the stage and features the spirited sounds of jazz for which they are known in favorites like It Don’t Mean a Thing, Georgia On My Mind and their signature piece, In the Mood.

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