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OGEHR Trillium Grant 

Handchime Loan Project - Full Workshop & Performance Video

The Ontario Guild of English Handbell Ringers with a Resilient Communities Fund grant of $41,300 will rebuild and recover from the impacts of COVID-19 by OGEHR holding an exciting one day virtual festival to encourage membership renewal, and provide equipment to all involved in the project to ensure that they may participate.

Did we do that?

A resounding ... YES!

OGEHR Trillium Grant 

Handchime Loan Project - Releasing the Project

Media Release - January 13, 2024

Students “chiming in” thanks to $41,300 OTF grant that delivered a unique music program

London, ON: On Saturday, MPP Terrence Kernaghan met with representatives from the Ontario Guild of English Handbell Ringers (OGEHR) as they were doing a workshop for students from a number of schools learning how to play hand chimes. This workshop was part of a larger program that’s taken place in six areas of the province thanks to a $41,300 Resilient Communities Fund grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) that was awarded in 2022. Over the course of nearly two years, young people were given the opportunity to join in either through virtual workshops and take part with in-person performances.

"I'm thrilled to learn that the Ontario Guild of English Handbell Ringers received this well-deserved grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation's Resilient Communities Fund,” said Terence Kernaghan, MPP for London North Centre. “This grant has helped them host an exciting hybrid in-person and virtual program that has benefitted young people and our wonderful broader arts community in London, as well as other communities across the province. Congratulations OGEHR!" 

Nearly all of the groups involved in this initiative were students. There are very few handbell and hand chime programs in schools, so the project provided young people with an incredibly unique opportunity to learn something new. Funds from the grant were used to buy a series of chimes and sheet music for the learning sessions, as well as renting performance spaces in six communities, and helping with online licenses and some staffing costs. Experienced handbell musicians took part in teaching young people how to play these uncommon instruments in six communities across the province over the course of the grant.

“It is fantastic that our lives seem to finally be getting back to normal, and that our kids can again enjoy the experiences that all children should have,” said Rob Cairns, Vice-President, OGEHR.

Videos from the grant project are available on YouTube: Full workshop and performance video (75 minutes) - https://youtu.be/YGJYqnfED_o or you can view a performance video featuring two groups (3 minutes) - https://youtu.be/p2tlyH36Tnk

The Ontario Trillium Foundation’s (OTF) mission is to build healthy and vibrant communities across Ontario. As an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations, last year, OTF invested over $110M into 1,022 community projects and partnerships. Visit otf.ca to learn more.

Below is a video of MPP Kernaghan's remarks and the Joint video 

from two of the participating groups that was shown at the release event.

Lester B. Pearson School for the Arts & St. Brides Handbell Choir

Massed Piece - Water Music

OGEHR Trillium Grant 

Handchime Loan Project - Preparations

In December 2021 the Ontario Trillium Foundation awarded a grant of over $40,000 to OGEHR to help renew our decreased membership due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.  An application was put together to purchase a number of handchime sets, and loan them to non OGEHR groups as an incentive to join OGEHR. We have purchased two-3 Octave sets, three 4-octave sets, and one 5-octave set! After the completion of this project all of these sets will be available to members through our instrument loan program.

The groups are participating in a one day mini-festival on March 4th, 2023. To accommodate getting groups together from across the province the mini-festival will be a hybrid live/virtual event. The members of each group will be in the same location, but the groups will all be connected virtually with each other to perform together. At the mini-festival groups will rehearse and perform a couple of massed pieces. In addition each group will record in advance a performance of their choosing on the loaned instrument. All of these recordings will be put together and presented later in a Trillium Handchime Loan Project concert.

Through the grant we were also able to purchase and gift to the participating groups the copies of the massed pieces. And a very exciting aspect of the program is that each group will have an OGEHR clinician available to help prepare them for the mini-festival!

We are pleased to be able to announce that Stuart Sladden will be the guest conductor for the mini-festival! You may remember Stuart from our last festival. Just as a reminder though, here is a little more info about Stuart:

Dr. Stuart Sladden was born and raised in the Greater Toronto Area. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Toronto (2002), in vocal jazz performance, a Master of Music degree from the University of Manitoba (2012), and a Doctor of Music degree from the University of Alberta (2020), both in choral conducting. He is a freelance musician, appearing as a guest conductor, workshop leader, adjudicator, and clinician mainly throughout Canada. He has worked as a sessional instructor at both the University of Alberta and University of Manitoba teaching courses in aural skills, conducting, and choral literature, and is part of the handbell faculty at the International Music Camp.  

Over the past twenty-five years, Stuart has enjoyed working with a variety of traditional, jazz, and church choirs as both a singer and conductor. In Winnipeg, he conducts a number of ensembles, including the Joie de Vivre Community Choir and the Rochester Ringers, was recently appointed as the new Director of Music in Worship at Westminster United Church, and is a singer with one of Winnipeg’s professional choral ensembles, the Winnipeg Singers.

Stuart began playing and conducting handbells in 2008, at Eden United Church, which is located in Mississauga, and since then has been involved with a number of handbell ensembles as both a ringer and conductor. Some of these ensembles include Eden Bells, Bells aPeel, and the Bronze Foundation in Toronto, Westworth Chapel Bells and Rochester Ringers in Winnipeg, and Jubiloso Bells of Concordia and the Robertson-Wesley Ringers in Edmonton. Stuart has been the guest conductor at provincial handbell festivals across Canada, has presented at, and been a guest conductor for, Canada’s national symposium, the Ringing Link (Winnipeg, 2014), was the Canadian representative conductor at the 17th International Handbell Symposium held in Vancouver during the summer of 2016, and was the guest conductor at OGEHR’s Peace by Piece festival held in London in 2019.

Along with his teaching and performing, Stuart is passionate about building relationship and community through music. He has been the chair of ChoralFest, one of the largest stand-alone, non-competitive choral festivals in Manitoba, has served on the Manitoba Music Educators Association board, serves on the board of the Foundation for Choral Music in Manitoba, and is the current Past-President of the Manitoba Choral Association. He is very excited to be participating in OGHER’s new handchime initiative, 'virtually’ returning to the province where the love of hanbells began for him.

I always say to my students, “You never know until you ask”. We looked into and asked for a grant to help revitalize OGEHR. It was surprising and exciting to have the grant come through! It has provided a new opportunity for us to engage new members and will provide a benefit to all members in the future. 

June - The Chimes Arrive

The chimes were delivered to my school and my students helped unpack them. We loaded them up and they are now safely at home.

June - Program Applications

In June we advertised and took applications for the loan program. We were looking for new groups to join OGEHR to increase our membership. The benefits for participants in the program were: 

        • The loan of one set of handchimes (3, 4 or 5 octaves) for 1 year 
        • The loan of foam for the handchimes for 1 year
        • A full set of two pieces of music suitable for handchimes
        • A clinician who will work with the ensemble 4 times during the loan period
        • Participation in a virtual handchime concert on March 4, 2023 and at their groups regular location
        • Rental of the A/V equipment for the March 4, 2023 concert
        • Access to a Master conductor for the March 4, 2023 concert
        • Access to the online mini concert that they are performing in
        • As members of OGEHR the participants will have access to all member benefitsincluding the Music Lending Library 

At the end of June we contacted the successful candidates.

Congratulations to all the successful groups and welcome to OGEHR!

Currently we still have one opening! Please contact Rob Cairns president@ogehr.ca if you are interested in applying.

Update - Grade 8 student from Lester B. Pearson School for the Arts from London, Ontario have joined the project, filling the final spot. 


July - Purchasing Chime Pads

It is actually quite a task to purchase enough from for 6 hand chime sets! Every piece of 2' foam that was 30" by 72" was purchased from the London Lens Mills store. That was enough for 30 of the 58 required 30" by 36" pieces we needed. All of the 30" by 30" pieces were also purchased but that meant gluing a 6" piece of foam on the 30" piece to get the correct size. After all that we still only had 45 of the 58 pieces needed!

The Final Pads arrive!

Maddy Lang purchased most of the 2" foam from the Lens Mills in Cambridge and brought it to London. We now had enough for 58 pads!

July - Covering the Chime Pads

We were able to purchase fabric to cover the chime pads for $2 a metre, so we go to work on sewing covers. Maddy used to run a sewing camp and still has 14 machines. She brought 4 to London, one of my ringers wth sewing skills came in, I got some of my kids and we went to work!


Maddy masterminded everything. Kathy sewed all the covers for our handbells, so she knew what she was doing. PJ (left and Elliot (right) were in charge of cutting the fabric.

Sarah is not familiar with sewing chime pad covers, but she was in charge of the sewing for our elephant puppet when we did our school show in May!

What's Next?

If you're not having fun, you are not doing it right!

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