Imperial is included on the fall tour of the Hastings College Handbell Choir, which will give a performance at Chase County Schools next Thursday, Nov. 2. Pictured above, the handbell choir will be giving nine performances on the tour starting Nov. 1. (Courtesy photo)

Hastings College Handbell Choir tour includes Imperial

    The Hastings College Handbell Choir is going on tour this fall, performing nine times in eight locations over a five-day period.
    The tour opens Nov. 1 in Holdrege, which will be followed by a performance in Imperial next Thursday, Nov. 2.
    The 9 a.m. performance here will be held at Chase County Schools, and is open to the public.
    According to music teacher Randy Hayes, the handbell choir performance here will be attended by grade 5-8 students, as well as the high school band and chorus members.
    Performing at four high schools and four churches in western Nebraska and Colorado during the tour, the handbell ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Byron Jensen, brings more than 60 bells, 60 chimes and an array of other instruments, including strings and percussion.
    Performances of the 21-member Handbell Choir will also include Millennial Vibe, a five-voice a capella group making their debut this semester at Hastings College. Members of both groups are primarily from Nebraska and Colorado.
    The Hastings College Handbell Choir was added to the Hastings College music curriculum when Jensen began teaching there in August 2003. A year later, five octaves of Schulmerich bells, chimes and other equipment were purchased, with some lower and upper handbells added later.
    The group meets twice weekly and includes students pursuing a variety of undergraduate degrees. Many students have never rung bells before attending Hastings College.
    The intent of the Hastings College Handbell Choir is to be an outstanding musical ensemble dedicated to students’ learning of music and performance technique, Director Jensen said, while also encouraging them to value community-based musical service.
    Many alumni are currently playing in or conducting handbell choirs, and a few are providing similar duties in auditioned community or professional ensembles.
    Jensen chairs the Department of Music where he teaches courses in music education and music history. He also serves as the Conductor/Artistic Director of the Hastings Symphony Orchestra, a semi-professional orchestra. His handbell experience began in 1990 with a job at Ottawa University in Kansas.
    “My first thought,” said Jensen, “was how perfunctory directing a handbell choir was going to be. But in truth, those instruments changed my life as a musician and educator, and no doubt transformed my personal faith journey and enhanced my role as a husband and father.”   
    All programs on the tour will include a variety of secular and sacred music, including compositions by Kevin McChesney, Arnold Sherman, Jason Krug and Cathy Moklebust, he said.
    After the Imperial performance, the handbell choir will perform in Holyoke,, Sterling, Fort Morgan and Boulder, Colo., before returning to Nebraska for a North Platte performance and a final one Nov. 5 on the Hasting College campus.

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