Founded in 1998 by their director/composer, Paul W. Allen, RiverBells is a professional-quality, community English handbell ensemble sponsored in part by the Elk Grove Unified School District, and located in the south Sacramento area. RiverBells consists of about fifteen ringers, several of whom are directors of other handbell ensembles. The group performs with six octaves of Schulmerich handbells and six octaves of Malmark choir chimes.
RiverBells is an exceptional group of advanced musicians performing a widely varied selection of difficult music. Many of the ringers are experienced in small ensemble work, and there are also several accomplished solo ringers. In addition, many RiverBells members are proficient on other musical instruments and are often called upon for selections requiring accompaniment.
RiverBells was incorporated as a nonprofit California corporation in 2003 and is recognized as a charitable, educational organization. Their primary objectives and purposes include:
- Providing instruction in English handbell and handchime techniques;
- Providing instruction in performance expectations as they relate to the presentation of English handbells and handchimes before live audiences;
- Providing public performances in English handbell and handchime ringing;
- Sponsoring special events involving the education, exploration and performance of established and emerging ringing techniques by Sacramento area ringers, handbell choirs, ensembles and soloists.
In accordance with their corporate goals and objectives, RiverBells sponsors workshops and clinics to help other handbell ensembles and individual ringers develop their skills and techniques. RiverBells has hosted well-received workshops featuring Valerie Stephenson and Tim Waugh, both nationally recognized handbell clinicians, conductors, and composers.
Additionally, RiverBells personnel offer their services to individual handbell groups in northern California for customized workshops and training sessions. These workshops can be specifically designed to meet clients’ goals to bring enhanced confidence and “musicality” to their performances and fees are negotiable.