Hastings College Handbell Choir going on tour November 1-5

The Hastings College Handbell Choir is going on tour this fall, performing nine times in eight locations over a five-day period.

The tour begins November 1 in Holdrege, Nebraska; then moves to Imperial, Nebraska; Holyoke, Colorado; Sterling, Colorado; Fort Morgan, Colorado; Boulder, Colorado; North Platte, Nebraska; and concludes with a November 5 performance on campus in Hastings, Nebraska.

See the full schedule below.

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 at that institution 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, 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 now in its 92 season. 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 will be a variety of secular and sacred music, including compositions by Kevin McChesney, Arnold Sherman, Jason Krug and Cathy Moklebust.

Performance Locations, Dates and Times

For more information on each performance, contact the performance venues listed below, or the Hastings College Music Department at 402.461.7448. All church performances are free and open to the public.

Please contact the high schools for information regarding admittance to their programs.

November 1, 7:30 p.m.
First Presbyterian Church
1103 Sheridan St.
Holdrege, Nebraska

November 2, 9:00 a.m.
Chase County High School
520 E 9th St.
Imperial, Nebraska

November 2, 2:00 p.m.
Holyoke High School
545 E Hale St.
Holyoke, Colorado

November 2, 7:00 p.m.
First Presbyterian Church
130 S 4th St.
Sterling, Colorado

November 3, 9:00 a.m.
Sterling High School
407 W Broadway St.
Sterling, Colorado

November 3, 2:30 p.m.
Fort Morgan High School
709 E Riverview Ave.
Fort Morgan, Colorado

November 3, 7:30 p.m.
St. Andrews Presbyterian Church
3700 Baseline Rd.
Boulder, Colorado

November 5, 10:00 a.m.
First Presbyterian Church
1901 W Leota St.
North Platte, Nebraska

November 5, 7:30 p.m.
Fuhr Hall of Music, Hastings College
723 E. 9th St.
Hastings, Nebraska


Activities with the Hastings College Handbell Choir since 2005 have included eight tours, two workshops with Kevin McChesney, a workshop with KC Congdon, two invited performances to the Nebraska Music Educators Conference, performances for the Nebraska Handbell Committee Workshops, four performances with the Hastings Symphony Orchestra, and numerous churches in Nebraska and Colorado. In August 2015 Dr. Jensen inaugurated a yearly commissioning of new works by acclaimed handbells composers beginning with Kevin McChesney. A work commissioned from Jason W. Krug was featured in May 2017, and in 2018 the ensemble will premiere a work by Brian Childers.


Hastings College is a private, four-year institution located in Hastings, Nebraska, that focuses on student academic and extracurricular achievement. With more than 60 majors and 15 pre-professional programs, Hastings College has been named among “Great Schools, Great Prices” by U.S. News & World Report and a “Best in the Midwest” by The Princeton Review. For more, go to hastings.edu.

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