Founded by Mary Kay Parrish in 1982, the University Ringers have had a history of bringing handbell music to audiences all over the United States and Europe. Under Parrish’s leadership, the group received the highest award presented by the Handbell Musicians of America (established in 1954 as the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers, or AGEHR), designated as “Exemplary” in the first edition of AGEHR’s “Handbells in Education” publication.
Dr. Lee Hinson, professor of church music, began directing the ensemble in 2007. In recent years they have performed in Missouri and Illinois, in addition to churches in Oklahoma, as well as high-profile performances on campus such as the annual Hanging of the Green. One of the current goals of the group is not just ringing music in concert, but to introduce creative handbell playing to student participants and audiences.
Students join the ensemble by audition. However, previous handbell experience is not necessary to participate. Some minimal music reading ability is needed, especially the ability to count rhythms. Auditions are held every fall at the beginning of the semester, or as needed to fill positions. Rehearsals are from 5:00 to 5:50 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday.