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Larry Sue, Handbell Arranger, Phase II *

Mr. Sue upon request wrote the handbell accompaniment arrangement heard on the last verse of Just A Closer Walk with Thee. That is because no handbell music for that hymn could be found that was:

Mr. Sue is a published handbell composer/arranger, and is the author of The Bass Ringer’s Notebook, Second Edition.(1) He has been a church musician for most of his life.

He became a handbell musician in 1987 in a workshop music conference. He subsequently became a bass-ringing specialist when the five-octave bell choir at his church became shorthanded.  He received a long-term assignment of -

“CD4, and anything to the left that you can manage.”

For those not familiar with handbell size and ringing position descriptions, a CD4 ringing position is assigned to the C and D bells at the bottom of octave 4. The reference to anything (position) to the left that you can manage, was referring to the bell ringing positions for bells going down the scale (getting larger and heavier), i.e., down into octave 3, and if they had any, then those from octave 2 as well.

Note. In the dropdown local menu above you can access the page for Handbell Sizes'. Keep in mind, that table of handbell sizes does not show the additional bells for half-steps between whole steps. Handbells use the sharp (#) designation for those half-steps. Thus, a bell labeled as an F# bell has the same pitch as a Gb bell. (Flat (b ) labeling is not used for designating bell pitches, i.e., all half-step bell pitches between whole note pitches are expressed as #'s.)

He then spent sixteen years with the Valley Ringers (Cupertino, CA) and eight years with Son Ringers (Mountain View, CA). He also performed with Bay Bells, one of the longest-running community handbell ensembles on the West Coast. He directed the Alleluia Ringers at Los Altos United Methodist Church, Los Altos, CA until the summer of 2016.

As the founder, leader, and composer/arranger of Low Ding Zone, the World’s First Bass-Only Handbell Ensemble, he was their Artistic Figurehead for eight years.  He proved the upper staff isn’t absolutely essential to the world of handbells.

His experience also includes performing at Distinctly Bronze West (2) and the Bay View Week of Handbells,(3) plus many other more local handbell events, as well as occasional forays into the area of bass handbell solos.

His festival conducting experiences include the:

He frequently provides instruction as a bass handbell clinician. “On the outside,” he works full time as a software engineer, with sidelines in music teaching and piano tuning, and has been running his music publishing company, Choraegus, since 1995.

Larry and Carla were married in 2012. (Carla is one of the best ringers from England. They met at a Bay View Week of Handbells.)

In 2016 they moved to Holland, Michigan. They started a new adventure there by embarking on creating new arrangements for just eight bells, which they play together. Their repertoire of handbells for two extends across the entire spectrum of hymns, classical music, Christmas carols, and folk music. They continue to be surprised at just how many musical selections can be played using just eight notes. (4, 5)

For those not familiar with the handbell playing technique known as four-in-hand ringing, in the above picture, each are holding two bells in each hand, and each bell is held perpendicular to the other in that hand. (Thus, four bells by one person.) Because of the way handbell ringing mechanisms are made, by turning their wrist a different way when they swing the two bells in that hand, only one of the two bells will ring. Thus, between the two of them, they can play eight individual notes as needed without putting down and picking up any of the other bells shown on the table in front of them.

After moving to Holland, Michigan in 2016, Larry subsequently become a member of the Kalamazoo Ringers, where he enjoys being part of the bass section.

Larry and Carla are available to teach classes and workshops in various handbell techniques, and to perform their 8-bell arrangements for two-ringers at concerts, weddings, corporate events, memorial services, church services, and other events in Michigan and beyond. They may be reached via email at: Larry-and-Carla-eMail.

 


Footnotes

* Information on this page was assembled from materials found on https://www.choraegus.com, in exchanges with Mr. Sue, searches of the internet, and is used with permission from Mr. Sue.

1 Bass Ringer’s Notebook, Second Edition, 2017, https://www.choraegus.com/ring/bass-ringers-notebook/

2 Distinctly Bronze West is a production of the Handbell Musicians Association.  It provides the opportunity to perform on the largest handbell sets available.

DISTINCTLY BRONZE is the Handbell Musicians Association's premier massed ringing event for advanced handbell musicians. Two events are held each year; once on the east coast and once on the west,

3 Bay View Week of Handbells “The Bay View Week of Handbells exists to give advanced ringers an opportunity to prepare a concert to be performed at a high professional level.”  Founded in 1978, The Bay View Week of Handbells has become a destination for advanced handbell ringers from throughout the world. It takes place in northern Michigan on the picturesque shores of Lake Michigan. Ringers are assigned positions in ten choirs, using sets of handbells and chime instruments ranging from five to eight octaves.

4 List of songs Larry and Carla Sue have arranged for 8-bells that can be played together, see https://www.choraegus.com/ring/eight-bell-music/.

5 Current performance repertoire of eight handbells, see Larry and Carla Performance repertoire.

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