Members

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!

 
 

Jimmy

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.

Sara

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Ginny

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CYNTHIA ADAIR

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Cynthia, retired muic 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.

 

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.

 

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 has founded and directed a handbell choir at a local church, but finds her true passion to be behind the table as part of the ringing ensemble. Her spare time is spent volunteering at her daughters’ school, going to movies with her family, and training her shepherd mix to be a therapy dog.

 

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.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

JIMMY HELMS

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.

 

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.

 

CHERYL SCOTT

FOUNDING MEMBER

Curiosity caused Cheryl to respond to her church’s announcement for adult bell ringers. 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.

 

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.

 

JUDY TORK

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 choirs, 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 my seven grandchildren and taking RV trips with her husband.

 

MARCI WAGUESPACK

Marci has been an ecumenical ringer playing with Lutheran, Presbyterian, and United Methodist handbell choirs over the past twenty years. She loves being a grandmother, teaching Sunday School, and working as a laboratory manager in a local clinical practice.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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