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Home > Articles > Handbell Ringers of Sun City

Handbell Ringers of Sun City
Laurie Lackey

Fifty years. Half a century. Golden Anniversary.

In 1967, a group of handbell ringers in the Phoenix area organized a community handbell group. Fifty years later, the Handbell Ringers of Sun City are still going strong! Libbie Randels is the current director and contact person for the group. With 26 ringers in the group, they are a double 5-octave choir. They own three 5-octave sets of Schulmerich bells and two 5-octave sets of Malmark chimes. Practices are from 9 am to 11:30 am on Fridays from September through April at the Fairway Recreation Center in Sun City.

They present two annual performances; one at Christmas and one in the Spring. In addition, they have attended 12th night in Las Vegas, performed at one of the first National Conferences in California, participated in Area 11 festivals in Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado and even had some members travel to Bayview, Michigan for Week of Handbells.

They are very active within the community; performing for several Christmases at the Arizona Botanical Gardens’ Las Noches de las Luminarias, hosting the Arizona Spring Ring for three years as well as multiple workshops to teach ringing techniques, providing music for the 50th Anniversary of Sun City, playing for various clubs and organizations in Sun City and throughout the greater Phoenix area and utilizing small groups of ringers to share the beauty of handbell music with senior retirement centers, churches, and schools and at social events and dinners.

The ensemble has commissioned two pieces: “Strolling in the Park” by Larry Sue, premiered in 2014, and “Desert Joy” by Michael Mazzatenta, celebrating their 50th Anniversary. They have performed “In Memorium”, Mazzatenta’s composition written to honor the Hotshots who perished in the 2013 Granite Mountain fire. Also in their repertoire are titles by handbell pioneers Don Allured, Betty Garee, and Francis Callahan all the way to newer composers like Michael Mazzatenta and Jason Krug. The group plays up to and through level 4 music. Noted clinicians that they have rung under include Tammy Waldrop, Bill Payne, Monica McGowan, Doug Benton, Hart Morris and Debbie Rice.

Doug Benton’s message to HRSC makes note that “in fact, HRSC is the oldest handbell choir in AZ! I had the honor of being your first Festival Conductor in the 70’s.”

The youngest ringer in the Handbell Ringers of Sun City is 64 years old, the oldest is 84 and some of the ringers have been ringing with HRSC for over twenty years. One ringer even has the distinction of ringing with the group for 28 years. Now that’s dedication! It’s obvious that one of the main reasons this ensemble is celebrating their 50th Anniversary is the camaraderie and sense of family. That, combined with a shared love of music in general and handbell music in particular, is a winning recipe for another 50 years of ringing in Sun City.

Congratulations to the Handbell Ringers of Sun City on 50 years of ringing!

If you live in the area or are travelling nearby, plan to attend the concert on Sunday, October 22 at 3 pm at the American Lutheran Church (17200 N. Del Webb Blvd., Sun City, AZ).  A reception will follow.  Please RSVP to Michele Southerland at  If you are unable to attend but would like to send a congratulatory message for the HRSC scrapbook, email that to Michele also.

To connect with HRSC, visit the Sun City Recreation webpage, follow Libbie on her Facebook page or contact her at