Larry and Carla – Group Spotlight

Posted By Derek Nance on Sep 1, 2013 |


A bit of Larry and Carla‘s history:
“We’d both been playing handbells since 1987 – me in England, and Larry in California – nearly 6,000 miles apart. We got to know each other on Facebook Chat, and then met in person for the very first time in Chicago O’Hare Airport… and went to the Bay View Week of Handbells together. That was back in 2010.

After that, it was a whole year until we saw each other again, but we talked for at least 6 hours a day on Skype… and we met again at Bay View 2011, and that’s where we got engaged!

Then, we went through the US visa process, and I finally moved to California in August 2012, and the first place we went was Bay View 2012! Then we got married, and we had the most amazing handbell-filled wedding! We had Michele Sharik and Linda Krantz to play solos for us, and a bell choir of 14 amazing ringers, who played 9 pieces during the wedding.”

When Carla Sue lived in England, she used to ring with Gay and Alan (the ones who played “Titanic” on Britain’s Got Talent. Look it up on YouTube!).

“I met them at South East Region Bell Orchestra (SERBO), which is a group of around 40 handbell ringers from the south of England, and we had a great time playing as a trio for a few years before I left England. We represented the UK at the Estonian Handbell Festival in 2011, which was hard work, but we had the chance to meet Kiriku, who were representing Japan, and we loved their performances.” (From an interview with Carla Sue)

More Thoughts From Larry and Carla

Who are your influences?

“Great musicians and great performers, because they give us examples to follow… but, just as much, those who enjoy their contributions to the art away from the spotlights, because they are the backbone and substance of every note we ring, every phrase we turn, and every smile we share.”

What makes Larry and Carla unique?

“I think what makes us unique is probably the whole “long-distance relationship” thing. We met because of our love of handbells, but couldn’t actually ring together on a regular basis until I moved to California. So we’ve been making the most of it, and doing lots of ringing, in churches, and for charity events, and a couple of exciting places, like San Francisco Zoo and next to the Macy’s Customer Services desk – to distract the customers who were bringing things back to complain about them!”

Random fact?

“Larry’s probably best-known for his bass bell skills. He wrote a book “The Bass Ringer’s Notebook“, and is the “artistic figurehead” of Low Ding Zone, which is the world’s first bass-only handbell ensemble. So, now he has the chance to ring treble bells as well (with Carla)!”

Inspiration International

Today’s Handbell Choir Monday is a different one, because we’re featuring Larry and Carla, and also Inspiration International… The reason for this is that they both participate in this amazing project, which deserves all the support they can get.

“Inspiration International” grew from the community work of “Inspiration”, an initiative of the Finchampstead Handbell Ringers in Berkshire, UK. Our mission is to enrich the lives of the young and elderly in the Berkshire community, by taking handbell music into the lives and homes of those who sometimes feel forgotten by society. We provide musical entertainment with a smile, encouraging audience participation with singing along, a chance to try ringing our bells, and friendly conversation.

Most care homes have no budget for outside stimulation. We entertain, integrate and encourage the elderly to participate in our musical sessions by ringing small coloured bells to make music, and singing along. We love to see how the music of handbells can create such a positive response from our audience!

More Than Just A Duet

Larry and Carla, through their Facebook page, help people by giving them advice on long-distance relationships, but mostly, in my opinion, they help them by being an inspiration. They never gave up on each other, they would talk hours and hours a day (some people that live together don’t even talk that much), and they waited a long time until they could be together at last. So, more than inspiring those that are going through the same thing they went through, Larry and Carla serve as an example for couples everywhere: Enjoy each other, cherish each other, love each other. And they add the cherry on top: They share their love for handbells with people that don’t even know what they are!

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Tiara Roman for sharing her Handbell Choir Wednesday spotlights with the blog!  You can check out more groups on her I Love Handbells Facebook page.  If you want your group to be featured, send an email to ilovehandbells3@gmail.com.