2014 World’s Greatest Handbell Competition* Results

Posted By Derek Nance on Jul 25, 2014 | 4 comments

After spending hours watching over all the submissions and deliberating, we have the results for the first ever World’s Greatest Handbell Competition.  A big thank you to everyone who sent in videos!  We got far more submissions this year than we were expecting.  Also, a big thanks to Tim Waugh and PL Grove for helping us judge the competition.  Here are the results:


1st Place – Kinjo Gakuin University Handbell Choir

This group, based out of Japan, blew all the judges away with their mastery of technique and musicality.  Here is their winning performance of “Grande Valse brillante Op 18” by Chopin, arranged by Toshikazu Yoshida.

2nd Place – Embellish Handbell Ensemble

Embellish Handbell Ensemble’s beautiful performance of Sandra Eithun’s “Savior of Nations, Come” shows off the groups incredible skills.

3rd Place – Atlanta Concert Ringers

To add to the awesome videos that were submitted, the Atlanta Concert Ringers sent in the this lovely performance of “Catalonian Carol” arranged by Julie Turner.


1st Place – Embellish Handbell Ensemble

The judges were impressed not only with Embellish’s musical skills, but also the inventive Petit & Fritsen bells woven into the piece.

2nd Place – Bell Appeal

Combining bells with vocals and drums, Bell Appeal shows the versatility of our instrument.  In many places during this arrangement of “Settle Down” the bells take a back seat to the vocals, providing a foundation for the group.

3rd Place – Concert Bells of Fort Worth

In addition to using both chimes and handbells backed up by piano, this arrangement of “Introduction and Royal March of the Lion” from Saint-Saens Carnival of the Animals by Karen Thompson has some incredibly complicated bell assignments to make the fast runs possible.

Best Youth Ensemble

1st Place – The Dorthy Shaw Bell Choir

The judges had a hard time picking between the two fabulous youth ensembles who sent in videos for the competition, but in the end all of us were impressed with the clean runs and articulation performed during this arrangement of the Nutcracker Suite by the Dorthy Shaw Bell Choir.

2nd Place – Ring It!

Tackling a challenging piece by William Payn, Ring It! proved their performance skills.  This advanced youth group in Virginia is one to keep your eye on.

Best Small Ensemble

1st Place – Glissando Bells

All three of our winners in the Small Ensemble category had very unique approaches to the challenge of ringing with six or fewer ringers.  Glissando’s five ringers cover an impressive range during this arrangement of “Over the Rainbow” while still keeping the piece lyrical.

2nd Place – Nancy Kirkner

Performing with pianist Janet Anderson, Nancy Kirkner delivers a gorgeous performance of “Nocturne in A Minor” by Karen Lakey Buckwalter.

A subset of the Purdue Bells, Off the Table Quartet here performs their own arrangement of music by John Williams.

Viewer’s Choice

Voting for Viewer’s Choice was done by “liking” videos on YouTube.  There was some tough competition, but the results were pretty clear.

1st Place – The Dorthy Shaw Bell Choir

Performing with out tables or a conductor, the youngsters in the Dorthy Shaw Bell Choir wowed the internet audience with their rendition of “Brazil” by Ary Barroso arranged by Jack Noble White.

2nd Place – Kinjo Gakuin University Handbell Choir

The internet gave Kinjo Gakuin University Handbell Choir’s performance of Chopin’s “Grande Valse brillante Op 18” an impressive 50 likes, placing it in second behind the Dorthy Shaw video, but well ahead of the other competition.  Arranged by Toshikazu Yoshida, who is also conducting, here is their performance.

3rd Place – Embellish Handbell Ensemble

About 20 seconds into Embellish Handbell Ensemble’s video you’ll see why everyone liked this video.  They took a pretty standard handbell piece and made something that was compelling to watch from beginning to end.  Written by Michael Mazzatenta, here is “Rhythm Dance”.

Honorable Mention

An honorable mention has to go out to Andrew Scher for his gutsy, one man performance of “All That’s Known” from Spring Awakening.  We have never seen anyone attempt to sing while playing the accompaniment on bells alone.  While it didn’t fit into any of the categories above, we all really enjoyed the performance.

There you have it!  All these performances show off the wide range and versatility of handbells.  What was your favorite performance from the videos above?  Let us know in the comments below.  And start thinking now about what pieces your group would like to submit to the 2015 World’s Greatest Handbell Competition.  Information for that will start going out in January.

*In 2014.  Maybe someone will start a better one next year?