In 2006, the Stafford Regional Handbell Society, at the time known as the 2:49 ringers, began to grow in a small, poorly ventilated rehearsal room in a church in Stafford. Two music teachers and a group of 8 kids in grades 3-5 started making music on a 3 octave set of handbells rescued from a local high school band program. With no mallets, no music, no foam, and , often, no air conditioning, the little group persisted until they played their first concert in April of that year. Because the group was comprised of one set of 3 siblings, one set of 2 siblings, the director's son and two other ringers, there were about 15 people in attendance at the evening's concert.
But from acorns, oaks grow, and through the next few years, Musical Director Phillip Lanier and the Programming Director, Neesa Hart, persisted and continued offering handbell classes for children and teens in the Stafford area. Soon, the group expanded to two ensembles, and eventually three, and then four, and then, parents of students wanted to play and the Society's first adult ensemble was added in the fall of 2009.
With growth came the need for more bells -- both expanded octaves and additional sets to allow multiple groups to rehearse at the same time. All that gear and all those rehearsals were using up church classroom space and one very overstuffed closet. Faced with an ever expanding need for rehearsal flexibility and storage, the Society moved into its current facility, a permanent rehearsal studio on September of 2011. The studio features three teaching spaces and a performance theater, and has become a worthy home for the Society's many handbell offerings and concerts.
The Society performs in a range of venues and strives to bring truly unique experiences to the community. Through the use of celebrity narrators, themed concerts, creative staging and other theatrical tools, we put musicality and excellence first, but build events that introduce new audiences to the wonderful music of handbells. Our groups are award-winning and nationally recognized for their excellence in performance and musicianship. We are a community of musicians who love sharing our art with our greater community of supporters and friends-not-yet-met.