Ellie Hodder, Artistic Director, holds a Bachelor of Music Degree from Crane School of Music, an advanced teaching certificate from New York State, and a Master of Fine Arts Degree with a concentration in composition from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. She begins a new role as Director of Music Ministries at Murray Hills Christian Church in Beaverton after 15 years as Director of Handbells at First Unitarian Church, Portland. Ellie is the founder of the Pacific NW Handbell Directors Forum and the Pacific NW Youth Handbell Festival. Ellie is the Founding clinician for Coppers Classic, an all-ringing event designed for intermediate, coppers level handbell musicians. She currently serves as the Area 10 Handbell Musicians of America Membership Coordinator and is a frequent clinician at events throughout the country.

John Allan

Vanessa Blake – My love affair with music began at the age of six, when I begged for piano lessons. Over the years, I picked up other instruments, and ultimately received degrees in instrumental music education. My need for a couple of extra music credits led me to a handbell ensemble. I was hooked and vowed to join one again one day. That opportunity came by way of a co-worker, who was a member of Pacific Ringers. I joined the group in January 2019. It’s been a fun ride, one I plan to stay on for the rest of my life.

Sandy Castles – Music truths – I have been ringing handbells since I was in junior high (YIKES! calculator says 50 years now!) Old rusty history says I was a mediocre percussionist from 5th-12th grade – which is probably why I like bells so much. If I resumed practicing, I could say I play a recorder (Alto) and I sing in my church choir.

Jessica Connor started playing with Pacific Ringers last Spring of 2022. Coming from a church handbell background starting in 2001 at Salem First United Methodist, she has played through college, seminary, and her early career as a pastor. Joining Pacific Ringers has been such a joy for her to take a challenging step in her handbell practice and passion!

Maggie Dickerson has been a member of PR since about 2017, coming from the handbell program at the First Unitarian Church of Portland. Currently, she plays handbells at the United Church of Christ in Forest Grove. She has also played for many years as an amateur cellist in community orchestras and small chamber groups and as a fiddler in friend’s kitchens and at community events. Maggie mostly plays music for fun, and she particularly loves handbells for the way they incorporate movement into music-making.

Tim Henderson My love for music began as a toddler. I can remember attending outdoor music concerts with my Mom and her friends as early as 3 years old. During these concerts, I was typically the first on the dance floor and the last to leave. I loved music! During my young years I was a part of the community dance group in Tualatin and I was a member of my high school dance team until I graduated. I also loved to sing in music class and at church (especially next to my grandfather who had the most amazing and inspirational voice.) At 10 I began learning to play flute and played with the Sherwood middle school and high school bands until my sophomore year. I then began working with my church choir director (a music student at Portland State at the time) and performing consistently for special music. I’ve continued to play my flute privately and publicly at every opportunity since. I’ve also continued to sing with the choir, and any other opportunity that presented itself. My first exposure to playing bells was also with my church in my early high school days, but that opportunity waned as I left to begin my career in the United States Coast Guard. After I retired I was introduced to Pacific Ringers and have been playing here for the last two seasons. I continue to also sing with my church and play my flute whenever I can. I look forward to a glorious future of continuing to grow my musical skills.

Emily Jo Jensen – Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Accompanying others and being part of a musical ensemble has always been my preferred performance mode. Being a part of Pacific Ringers continues to afford me that opportunity. Though no longer the “newbie” of the group, I continue to face the challenges of an adult learner. Thank you fellow Pacific Ringers for your patience and encouragement. It is a privilege to be a part of this intergenerational ensemble.

Lynn Kempter – I started playing the flute when I was in the 4th grade and played through high school, college, and then a community band. One day on a whim in 1985 I called the music director at First Unitarian Church about playing in the fairly new adult handbell choir despite not really knowing what a handbell was, much less how to play it. I stayed with them for 35 years, until joining Pacific Ringers. I love being a part of this ensemble: it is challenging and fun, and wonderful people to be making music with.

Aron Klein – Aron’s ringing career began in 2016 with Stumptown Ringers having never seen or heard a handbell before; his friend was a very effective recruiter. He joined Pacific Ringers in 2022. In today’s concert, you’ll see him ringing low bass bells and high trebles with just a couple of songs between.

When he’s not ringing, Aron can usually be found on his bicycle or in his kitchen cooking breakfast. He is also the Operations Manager at Partnership for Safety & Justice and facilitates conversations about accountability with Oregon Humanities.

Andy Lyttle has been playing percussion since joining the Metropolitan Youth Symphony at age 12 and currently plays with the Oregon Symphonic Band. He enjoys playing with and arranging music for New Life Church’s worship team and does nerdy computer things professionally.

Sharon Ross joined Pacific Ringers in 2014. A lifelong musician playing oboe with the Beaverton Symphony and jazz saxophone occasionally, she was first introduced to bells in the mid ’80s at St Matthew Lutheran Church in Beaverton. She currently plays with a fabulous group at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Portland. Bells occupy a special place in her heart with the close relations it kindles and the special camaraderie it takes for 13 people to play one instrument. Music is fun, best shared, and a hoot when making the bells sing

Jill Sanders – Jill became a ringer during the pandemic as a way to hang out with her brother and make music during those times. Her first introduction to bells was supporting her daughters in one of Ellie’s ensembles, but now that the daughters are grown and the brother has moved away, she’s a ringer in her own right. Other musical adventures are as a singer in Aurora Chorus and learning the fiddle for a blue grass garage band.

Leeann Wade – I have been in musical groups most of my life. I was in a handbell choir in OKC, as well as choral groups, but handbells were my passion. Upon moving to the Portland area, a friend, Ednamae, texted me that if I ever had a chance to ring with Ellie Hodder to do it. I finally had the opportunity and joined Pacific Ringers. It has changed my life. The camaraderie of fellow ringers and their support through difficult pieces is amazing. Ringing with others brings me joy. My grandchildren and family are always number one making handbells a very close second.

Colin Wolcott played handbells as a kid and now, 20+ years later, understands that playing music represents a meaningful hedge against long-term cognitive decline. Plus, it’s fun. From the way he’s writing this, you probably won’t be surprised to hear he’s educated as a scientist, and previously worked in the biomedical field. Now, he’s an OMSI volunteer, a published writer, and pleased to be a member of Pacific Ringers.

Alumni: Dan Anajovich, Karen Bartley, Melinda Beyers, Kim Bible, Sarah Bouwkamp, Patty Boyd, Eidan Bray, Melinda Chandos, Kate Coates, Lyzi Diamond, Joanne Dixon, Jenni Embury, Chris Farlow, Anne Gire, Ellen Good, Kelli Oates Griffith, Betty Harter, Marisa Johnson, Nancy Johnson, Susan Johnson, Pat Klum, Barb Lary, Marisa Johnson, Debra Mikkelsen, Letty Phillips, Ann Pomazal, Elena Pomazal, Nathan Sanders, Kristin Sellers, Allison Titus, Nadine Whitfield