The Capital City Ringers Handbell Ensemble - About Us
Click here for a group photo to meet the ringers and directors.
The Capital City Ringers would love to play for your event: wedding, concert, civic event, corporate function, workshops, special celebrations, etc. We generally book performances 1 year in advance, so contact us now!
The Capital City Ringers, Inc., an auditioned community handbell ensemble from Lansing, Michigan, was formed in 1984 to give an opportunity for advanced handbell ringers to grow, learn, and promote the art of handbell ringing by providing a high quality musical experience for diverse audiences. These advanced ringers come from the extended Lansing area. They volunteer their time and talents and are committed to community service projects and concert performances in the Lansing area and beyond. Their fifteen to twenty concerts a year take them to many areas of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and even as far as Disney World, Florida, in the summer of 1991. They also have been the featured group for the opening concert of Handbell Musicians of America Area V Festival Conferences. The Capital City Ringers are known for their musical expression and dynamic interpretation of the music they play. Their goals are achieved through participating in festival conferences, workshops, tours, recordings, and other performance opportunities.
The Capital City Ringers have performed for a variety of local and civic events in the Greater Lansing Area and beyond, such as, Silver Bells in the City, East Lansing Winterbowl and Chili Cook-off, East Lansing Arts Festival, Festival of the Trees, Tuba Bach Chamber Music Festival, and have performed with the Lansing Symphony Orchestra at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts, and the Mason Symphony Orchestra. CCR has also been featured on several concert series and programs, including Handbell Podcast and the Dr. Christmas radio show.
Community service performances at retirement centers in the Greater Lansing area have been made possible by grants from the Arts Council of Greater Lansing and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. CCR acknowledges these organizations for their support. The Capital City Ringers maintain membership in both of these organizations.
The group owns and performs on a full 7 octave set of Malmark English handbells, from C2 to C9, several duplicate bells, a 6-plus octave set of Malmark Choirchimes©, and a variety of auxiliary percussion instruments. CCR will often be accompanied by other instruments, such as drums, bass guitar, keyboard, clarinet, flute, tuba, euphonium, cello, or even a synthesizer.
The Capital City Ringers has a composition that was written especially for them, Réunir, by Dr. William A. Payn, which was commissioned by Lorraine Finison in 1991. This hauntingly beautiful piece displays a multitude of colorful emotions exemplifying the group's musical interpretation and expression. We are proud to mention that Réunir has been selected as a bronze piece for both Eastern and Western AGEHR National Festival Conferences, several area festival conferences, local festivals and conferences, and most recently, the 9th International Handbell Symposium held in Birmingham, England in August of 2000. This is truly a dynamic composition that has international appeal and is known the world over. We are very proud of the success of this piece! Thank you Dr. Payn!
CCR would also like to acknowledge and thank Mt. Hope United Methodist Church in Lansing for graciously providing rehearsal space for the group. Additionally, we thank all of you who support CCR and make it possible for us to bring the unique sound of handbells to the local Lansing area community and beyond.
The Capital City Ringers would love to play for your event: weddings, concerts, civic events, corporate functions, special celebrations, etc.
Come join us! We currently rehearse on Monday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. at Mt. Hope UMC in Lansing, MI. Click here for a map and directions. Our rehearsals are open, so come visit, watch, and listen, or pick up a bell and ring with us!
Audition for CCR! Maybe you would like to audition to be a Capital City Ringer, or perhaps a sub? We are seeking experienced, committed ringers who are looking for a challenging outlet for advanced handbell opportunities while having fun. We currently have two terms per calendar year; Fall and Winter/Spring. Auditions are generally held in August each year, however, from time to time, we have openings in January. If this sounds like your calling, E-mail us or call director Nicole Leppala at (517) 974-6635 for audition information.
E-mail us at email@example.com for booking information, inquiries about the group, audition information, comments, or just to say "Hi!" Or see our 'Contact Us' page for more ways to reach CCR.
Meet The Capital City Ringers. . . Fall 2014
"I don't know him but his face sure rings a bell..." - Click on a ringer's face to jump to their bio.
Not pictured: Nicole Leppala, CCR Music Director 2015; Eileen Ellis. Eileen's photo and bio are here.
Nicole Leppala - In addition to becoming the Capital City Ringers' Music Director in 2015, Nicole is the Music Director at Hope Lutheran Church in DeWitt Michigan where she has had the privilege of serving since 2000. Nicole’s experience in conducting and teaching the technique and art of handbell playing started in 1998 when she was recruited as a last minute ringer for a church service. Nicole received a certification in Lutheran Musician Enrichment through the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in 2004. Many of Nicole’s accomplishments as a musician, clinician and conductor are directly related to advanced music study through the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Nicole has served as President of the Lansing Area Ministry of Bells, and strives to encourage and teach handbell congregations how to promote music in the church through handbell ringing. Working throughout the area as a clinician and guest conductor teaching ringing techniques and musicianship in ringing, has introduced Nicole to many great people.
An avid musician since childhood, Nicole plays French horn, Trumpet, Piano and Organ. She has been the Assistant Director for the DeWitt Community Concert Band since 2014 and principle French horn player since 1994.
"Handbell ringing is a social act of communication from the musicians to the people. The visual and technical aspects of handbell ringing adds splendor to what the music means to convey. This unique form of musical presentation transforms the written music from something dead into something alive! It is through this act of communication that handbell musicians do not just do music for the people; instead they work to share themselves through the music they present."
Meet the Ringers. . .
*Corlie Eldred - a.k.a. Bell Amie. Corlie comes to us from Williamston, MI, where she has been involved in music ministry at Williamston United Methodist Church for nearly 40 years, and currently serves as organist, and director of the handbell choir, "Joyful Noise". Other musical activities include teaching piano and accompanying students at area festivals and recitals, and learning to play the hammered dulcimer. Having raised three sons, Corlie and her husband Keith now enjoy any chance they get to spend time with their grandchidlren. They also enjoy traveling to places near and far, and weekends often find them competing in dog shows and agility trials with their three setters. On nice days, Corlie's favorite things to do are walking with her human or canine buddies, or working in her flower gardens. Corlie has particpated four times in the Bay View Week of Hanbdells, and recently participated for the second time in Distinctly Bronze East. She joined CCR in 2008.
Eileen Ellis - a.k.a. Chiming In, joined CCR in September 2008. Eileen has served 16 years as treasurer of CCR's sister organization, the Lansing Area Ministry of Bells, and has directed handbell choirs at South Church for over 30 years, in addition to being one of two organists. Eileen is a health care consultant with Health Management Associates, specializing in health care reimbursement and delivery systems. She has one grown daughter, Shelley, who lives in New Hampshire with husband, Gary, and their daughter, Miya.
Kim Finison - a.k.a. Dr. Bell, primarily rings bass bells and bass chimes, but often plays a variety of percussion instruments, trap set, bass guitar, or keyboard. Kim joined CCR in 1989, and with his wife, Lorraine, commissioned a piece ('Blue Tango' by Cathy Moklebust) in 2013 to celebrate their 25th season in CCR. He currently serves as the equipment manager and web master for CCR, and in his spare time (what ever that is!) enjoys computers, photography, and working on sick handbells and bringing them back to health (hence the nickname). Kim has been a clinician (bell maintenance and bass bell techniques) at various handbell events in Area 5 of the Handbell Musicians of America. He also is a retired 13 year verteran of the Deep Pit Bass Bells at the Bay View Week of Handbells. Kim has served as CCR's Bass Section leader for several years before turning the reins over to Rick Hobrla. He is married to Lorraine Finison, whom he met in CCR, and father to CCR ringer Lindsay Finison and (former CCR ringer) Andrea Finison Palomba, and enjoys being "Grandpops" to his 3 grandchildren. In 2001 Kim and Lorraine visited the Malmark factory in Plumsteadville, PA and were given a comprehensive personal tour by former Malmark vice-president, Willard Markey. Before leaving, Kim got to ring the G-0 and A-0 bells - (yes, that's G-ZERO and A-ZERO) - the largest playable handbells in the world.
Lindsay Finison - a.k.a. Bell Diva. Lindsay, joining CCR fall of 2004, says, "I grew up watching my dad (Kim Finison) ring with the Capital City Ringers. It is a great honor to now be ringing with the group that I grew up with and admired." Lindsay has been ringing bells since she was in the 3rd grade and now rings with the adult handbell choir at Mayflower Congregational Church, where she earned her bell nickname. Along with bells, Lindsay started piano lessons in the 3rd grade. Later, in band, she played baritone, clarinet, French horn, and trombone (jazz band). As you can tell, music is a huge part of her life. Lindsay re-joins CCR after taking a couple of years off after the birth of her daughter, Stella.
* Lorraine Finison - a.k.a. the Bell Goddess. Lorraine is the
Corresponding Secretary and Treasurer for CCR and is the senior ringer,
having just started her 26th year with the ensemble. An accomplished 4IH
(and 6IH) ringer, she has been with CCR since 1988. Lorraine serves as
the Michigan District 1 Leader for Area 5 of the Handbell Musicians of
America and is on the board of the Lansing Area Ministry of Bells, where
she has been Secretary since 1992. She has also been a clinician at
various handbell events. Lorraine worked at the Michigan Department of
State's Bureau of Regulatory Services as a Department Specialist for 32
years, retiring on Jan. 1, 2011. She has a BS degree in Criminal Justice
from Grand Valley State University and a Masters degree in Corrections
Administration from Michigan State University. Lorraine is married to
Kim Finison, and is stepmother to Kris Finison, Lindsay Finison and Andrea Finison Palomba (all current or former CCR members) and grandmother of three.
Dave Hafey - a.k.a. Sergeant Bellko. Dave began ringing handbells in 1987 at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. In 1995 Dave moved to Laingsburg, Michigan and helped found the First Congregational Church's Covenant Ringers handbell choir. Now, Dave is the director of the handbell choir and the Chancel Choir. Dave also is a member of the Laingsburg Community Singers. Dave was in the U.S. Air Force for over 22 years as an Air Traffic Control manager and currently working as the network systems specialist for the Michigan Catholic Conference in Lansing.
Christi Harris - currently on sabatical.
Marty Herman - a.k.a. SMarty Bell, joined CCR January 2013 as a battery (middle bell) ringer. She has been ringing since 1994 and currently rings in and co-directs the handbell choirs at Shepherd of the Lakes Lutheran and First Presbyterian churches in Brighton. She rang with Classical Bells of Detroit from 2003 to 2009. Marty has worked at StayDry Basement Waterproofing in Lansing for the past five years. Her family includes husband Marvin, to whom she has been married 33 years, grown son Andy and daughter Lauren, and teenage daughter Taylor. In her spare time, she loves gardening.
* Rick Hobrla - a.k.a. Lord of the Ring. Rick joined CCR in the fall of 2001. He began ringing handbells with the St. Gerard Church handbell choir in 1996 in order to atone for at least some of the sins he committed during his younger years. Rick's day job is working as an Environmental Engineer for the Office of the Great Lakes. He claims to get his musical talent from his two kids; son, Travis, and daughter, Meredith. He is lucky to be married to wife, Debby (as she sometimes reminds him), but she wishes he would give up bells and do something "useful" with his time... like cleaning the basement or knitting booties for their Yorkie, Callie.
Marcia Hollopeter - a.k.a. ? Marcia began ringing in 1985 when she subbed for an absent ringer one night in her then 12 year daughters' handbell choir and has been ringing ever since. She has rung with the adult bell choir at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Rochester, MI since 1986. Having moved to Mason, MI in 2006, her ringing at St. Paul's has diminished somewhat, but she still rings occasionally when the opportunities arise. Marcia also played with the Rochester Ringers community bell choir from 2004-2006 and with the Cranbrook, Christ Church Cranbrook in Bloomfield, MI from 2003-2006. She currently rings with First UMC in Mason. Marcia is married to husband, Mark, and they have 3 children. When not ringing, Marcia enjoys spending time with her grandkids, quilting, and teaching occasionally at Quilt-n-Friends in Sterling Heights. She also enjoys reading, gardening, camping, and walking through the woods, along with the never-ending challenge of re-modeling their house near Mason.
Michelle Ridley - a.k.a. Shell Bell, is excited to have joined CCR for the 2014 fall term.. She started ringing in 2010 when St. David’s Episcopal acquired a two-octave set of handbells. She still plays in the St. David’s handbell choir and also plays duets with a fellow ringer. Michelle works at Assessment Rehabilitation Management (ARM) as the Billing Manager and teaches water aerobics for Prime Time at the Hannah Community Center. She graduated from MSU with a Business degree and from Thomas M. Cooley Law School. She also enjoys playing the flute and singing in the St. David’s choir. When not involved with music, Michelle enjoys spending time with her horses and dogs. She also raises chickens to sell free-range eggs.
Gary Masters - a.k.a. Snowbell, is a four-seasons enthusiast. Gary is a certified ski instructor and has taught donwhill skiing for over 35 years. He also enjoys spending time in Petoskey during the summer where he enjoys water skiing and boating on Crooked Lake. Gary has hosted ringers participating in the Week of Handbells at Bay View in August, many of whom are current or former CCR members. Gary loves to travel with his bride of 42 years, especially in early Septemebr for their anniversary, most recently visiting Branson, MO and Eureka Springs, AR. Gary and Jill have three children, Chris (Liz), a partner with Dorin Mayhew, Jeff (Kristi), a drug representative with Bausch & Lomb, and Laura (Bob), a nurse with Metro Health in Grand Rapids. Gary and JIll love spending time with their two grandchildren and hope one day to convince them to become handbell ringers. Gary has been a member of CCR since January of 1998.
Laura Sparks - a.k.a. Belladonna, returned to CCR this fall after a ten-year absence, starting her fifth stint in the group! She started ringing at Plymouth Congregational in 1990 and currently rings there. Laura has taught at Morrice Area Schools since 1979 in many capacities (band director, choir director, current events, reading, study skills), and currently teaches middle high social studies and English. For the last three years, she has been involved with MSU in training student teachers. She has a bachelor's degree in Music from MSU (where she played trumpet in the Spartan Marching Band) and a master's degree in the Art of Teaching from Marygrove College. Her family includes husband Dave, to whom she has been married 34 years, grown son Adam and daughter Stephanie, and 20-year-old Shawn. Her hobbies include reading, current events, gardening, sports fan, playing flute and piano. One summer, in her MUCH younger days (as she puts it), she backpacked about 400 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Shannon Spasova - a.k.a. The Swingin' Ringer. Shannon started playing bells at age 8 as a preacher's kid in Ohio. She learned 4-in-hand and the weave first in high school at Monroe Street UMC in Toledo. At Oberlin College she participated in a winter term project that allowed her to practice 5 hours a day 5 days a week for a whole month and resulted in the creation of the bell quartet "Krazy Dave and the Swingin' Ringers." During graduate school she played in Madison Area Concert Handbells in Madison, WI, and then played with St. John's United Church of Canada while living in Nova
Scotia for several years. In 2013 she was honored to join CCR! Shannon is an Assistant Professor of Russian at Michigan State University and works for the Center for Language Teaching Advancement. She also enjoys folk music, especially Russian folk music, and has a collection of Russian folk instruments that includes a Russian-style accordion and 3 balalaikas!
Aggie Steiner - a.k.a. Syllabell, began ringing in 2008 at Mt. Hope UMC, and immediately became a huge fan of CCR. So, she auditioned for the group in 2010, joined in the winter of 2011, and has been incredibly challenged since. Aggie was born in Poland and moved to the U.S. with her family when she was eight. After learning English, she couldn't stop, so she learned German and French, too, and eventually went to MSU for degrees in International Relations and Forensic Chemistry. Those come in very handy now that
she's a stay-at-home mom when she needs to negotiate with her lovely preschool-aged daughter Kate or identify mystery stains. Her college fencing experience hasn't come in handy yet, but that is where she met her husband Paul. Aggie enjoys reading, gardening, sewing and knitting, volunteers with an animal rescue group, and has written several to-date unpublished novels.
Stu Talsma - a.k.a Toll Road. Stu joined CCR in January 2012,
ringing in the bass section. He started ringing in junior high in the
youth bell choir at South (Baptist) Church and has rung in the adult
bell choir directed by CCR member Eileen Ellis for many years. He also works in the multi-media room during Sunday services. Stu currently works as an analyst for the Michigan Dept. of State’s Bureau of Elections, and previously worked for 12 years in the Michigan Dept. of Technology and five years in the Michigan Dept. of Transportation. When he isn’t ringing bells, Stu is an avid reader of history and is a collector of books. He also enjoys travel and music.
Rich Weingartner - a.k.a. The Voice of CCR. Rich, our fabulous narrator, Friend, and roadie extraordinare, is a displaced Yooper, brought to the area by his job. He graduated from Central Michigan University in 2000 and obtained a job as a computer programmer/analyst in East Lansing. Rich has been in his church's handbell choir since he moved to the area, so it was natural that he started attending CCR concerts when invited by a former ringer of CCR. At one of the concerts he (as requested) filled out the volunteer form during intermission, indicating he would be willing to be the narrator for a concert. Well, that form turned into narrating a few local concerts, then into the local concerts and Michigan tour concerts, and finally, in the summer of 2014, he joined CCR on their tour out East. So, be careful what you put on the form! He is grateful to be a small part of CCR and, who knows?, maybe one day will pick up the bells with CCR and ring. Outside of CCR and work, Rich is involved in other volunteer work at Faith Lutheran Church in Okemos, WKAR and QuizBusters, and Riverwalk Theatre in downtown Lansing.
* Denotes section leaders: Rick - bass, Lorraine - treble, Corlie - Battery
|Jessi Wortley Adler
Lisa Biasi Beals
Katie Wharton Boes
Nancy Dawson Clark
Kate Wright Davinroy
Rev. Kathy Kursch
Andrea Finison Palomba
Jean Ann Stacey
Jodi Johns Sullivant
Meet CCR Founder and Director for the First 31 Years
Jane C. Wright - a.k.a. Ma Bell, founded the Capital City Community Ringers in 1984 when she discovered a need for advanced ringers and directors to ring more frequently and to ring more challenging and varied music than what their church handbell choirs could offer. Jane is the Director of Worship and Fine Arts at Westwood United Methodist Church in Kalamazoo. She holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Central Michigan University and a Master of Choral Conducting degree from Michigan State University. Jane has been in the stream of music education and conducting since 1973 and has taught public and private music education, band, choir, and handbells. She served as Director of Music Ministries at Mt. Hope UMC for 19 years. Jane founded the Lansing Area Ministry of Bells (LAMB), which promotes the art of handbell ringing through local festivals and workshops. She is a clinician for early conductors and handbell ringers. Jane has had the privilege of serving 4 years as Secretary on the Area V Board of the Handbell Musicians of America (formerly AGEHR), and has been a clinician for various handbell events, all of which have given her the opportunity to get to know a lot of "great people." Jane says, "Handbell ringing in America today is a very exciting medium in which to perform, and has gone beyond justifying or comparing itself with choral and instrumental ensembles. Handbells can be as musical and as expressive as we make them and the process can be delightful, especially if one enjoys the hard work it takes to strive for musical perfection. The sound is both beautiful and unique and there is great joy in the journey!"
Audition for CCR! Maybe you would like to audition to be a Capital City Ringer, or perhaps a sub? If this sounds like your calling, E-mail us or call Music Director, Nicole Leppala for audition information.