Members

VENITA MacGORMAN

MUSIC DIRECTOR

With a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Texas Christian University and Master of Music Education degree from the University of Oklahoma, Venita has been directing handbells for over 30 years. She has served on the Board of Directors of Area 9 of the Handbell Musicians of America (HMA) in several capacities. She has been the massed ringing conductor for the Santa Fe Christmas Handbell Festival, the Arkansas State Handbell Festival, several Area 9 Young Ringers Festivals in addition to leading HMA workshops at the local, state, area, and national levels. With her daughter, Erin, she has authored “Basic Training for Bells” and “Basic Training 2: Rhythm Training for Ringers”, handbell method books published by Choristers Guild. Married to Don, who works for the National Severe Storms Laboratory, they have two married daughters, two granddaughters and two step-grandsons. But their Norman household is dominated by their cats Strider and Arwen and their love of all things Tolkien, “Star Trek” and “Harry Potter.” Just recently retired from her position as a church music director, Venita looks forward to new adventures directing OCHE.

CYNTHIA ADAIR

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Cynthia, retired music educator & parent educator, has played and conducted handbells for 18+ years. She currently fills her days watching her two young granddaughters. She is also actively involved in the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI-OK) as a trainer/presenter.

KATHY AUSTIN

FOUNDING MEMBER

Kathy has been ringing bells for many years. She has played music she could never have imagined as a part of OCHE. Recently retired from teaching, Kathy has moved into the role of full-time grandmother and is enjoying every minute with her grandchildren.

MELISSA BIRNEY

MUSIC LIBRARIAN

Melissa's interest in handbells was piqued as a wee babe watching her mother direct the church bell choir. Melissa later joined that same choir in junior high. When not behind the table, she cares for dogs and cats as a vet assistant in Edmond.

PAT BIRNEY

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Pat began ringing handbells as a charter member of her church choir in California. After moving to Oklahoma, she discovered OCHE and has been a member for over 2 years. Pat spends her time enjoying her family and traveling.

SARA CAGE

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Playing music has been a part of Sara’s life since late elementary school.  She spent middle school and high school ringing in her church handbell choir and playing flute in various ensembles. These musical talents allowed her to travel in high school and college with the groups as they performed across the country. She directs a handbell choir at her church, and enjoys sharing her knowledge gained through years of experience behind the table with the members of her choir. Her spare time is spent volunteering at her daughters’ school, going to movies with her family, and reading.

BROOKE CALHOUN

Brooke began ringing handbells about ten years ago as a founding member of her church handbell choir.  She continues to ring with her church choir and joined OCHE in the fall of 2011.

GINNY GANDY-GUEDES

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Ginny is a lifelong lover of bells. She started in primary school ringing chimes, and rang bells regularly through college. After a long hiatus she has returned to the table, and has enjoyed being welcomed into the OCHE family. Ginny works at OU and also owns her own leathercrafting business. When she isn't ringing, she is playing board games and fly fishing with her spouse and two spoiled dogs.

JIMMY HELM

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Jimmy began ringing handbells with his church in 2014, and this is his first season with OCHE. Music has been a part of his life since junior high, playing clarinet, bass clarinet and contrabass clarinet. An award-winning journalist, Jimmy now works in the nonprofit sector in public relations. When not ringing, he's enjoying life with his wife and two sons.

SHEILA KRUSE

By day Sheila is a meek and mild-mannered high school French teacher, but by night she becomes a bell-ringing extraordinaire! Originally from Wisconsin, Sheila has been a part of various bell choirs off and on since high school and only recently got back into ringing. This is her third season playing with OCHE, and she loves the Christmas music the best! When she's not spreading holiday cheer through ringing, Sheila also enjoys reading, playing with her kittens, and training for the odd marathon.

GRETCHEN NEEL

Gretchen enjoys playing bells, gardening, cooking, traveling, her daughters, and her grandson. For several years, Gretchen has enjoyed playing with OCHE. Daytime employment finds Gretchen working as a researcher for an abstract and title company. She looks forward to introducing her grandson to bells.

RUTH NICHOLS

FOUNDING MEMBER

Ruth is a retired teacher. She has played handbells for over thirty-five years and directed children, youth, and adult bell choirs for over thirty years. Ruth is a founding member of OCHE. Retirement years have been full of spoiling three granddaughters, volunteering in the church music library, playing clarinet in the church orchestra, and serving as treasurer for the Oklahoma City Teacher's Union.

CHERYL SCOTT

FOUNDING MEMBER

Curiosity caused Cheryl to respond to her church’s announcement for adult bell ringers. More than 13 years later, she can’t imagine a week without the healing joy of ringing handbells with her church's bell choir and as a founding member of OCHE. Understanding the importance of nurturing young bell players has led her to teach/mentor children and youth in her church. Recently retired from her career with a worldwide telecommunications company, Cheryl is spending more time with her family and friends. Her passions (other than music) are scuba diving, traveling, exploring God’s beautiful world, and sharing these with her grandchildren.

KIM SHEELY

JUDY TORLUEMKE

FOUNDING MEMBER

Having very little hands on ringing experience, Judy took a giant leap of faith while attending the 2007 CORD Handbell Festival in OKC as a substitute ringer. At the end of the festival, a young lady was recruiting handbell ringers for intermediate and advanced community choirs she was organizing and Judy signed up for what turned out to be an opportunity of a lifetime. Those ensembles, Bronze Tapestry and OKC Ringtones, became what is now Oklahoma City Handbell Ensemble. Currently, Judy rings in three handbell choirs, and when not ringing, she enjoys spending time with her seven grandchildren and taking RV trips with her husband.

MARCI WAGUESPACK

Marci loves all the ringing opportunities with OCHE: from the Salvation Army kettles, to the nursing homes, to the schools, to “Saturdays with Santa,” to concerts all over the state, and the OKC Civic Center. Marci has been an ecumenical ringer playing with Lutheran, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, and United Methodist handbell choirs. She loves being a grandmother (with two grandchildren now playing in a chime choir), singing with her church choir, teaching pre-school Sunday School, and working as a laboratory manager in a local clinical practice.

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Meet our amazing ringers, director, and percussionists. We are all truly proud to be a group of artists with more than 155 combined years of experience playing one instrument for audiences of all ages!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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