When Tintab was asked by Jenny Caulhorn, the executive director of Handbell Musicians of America, to audition for the 17th annual International Handbell Symposium, we were surprised, thrilled and completely humbled! To be considered one of only two handbell ensembles to represent the United States at the International Handbell Symposium was beyond comprehension for us. Having to consider not only the block of time involved at the symposium, but also travel from Reno to Vancouver and back, not to mention the cost of gas, lodging and food, the decision for us was huge! Realizing we may never have an opportunity to participate in another International Handbell Symposium, the answer was clear. .. we had to do it!

Amazingly to us, our audition was accepted! We were on our way to Vancouver! With our Spring/Summer concert series we put our fund raising efforts into full swing. Requests for time off from work were submitted and granted. Traveling to another country, passports were checked for validity, and those in need made certain to apply for a passport with time to spare. Secret individual ‘spending money’ stashes were established for the trip.

Suddenly the time was here – it was time to head to Vancouver! Meeting after work, we loaded all equipment (bells, chimes, mallets, singing sticks, music folders, music stands, pads, plus additional instruments – cello, drums, trumpet, ukulele and violin) into vehicles hauling equipment. We piled into them and, with our pillows and snacks, headed north. Our 917 mile road trip from Reno to Vancouver took us out of Nevada, through a corner of California and onward through Oregon and Washington – lovely (Facebook updates being made enroute)! We were fortunate to perform two concerts during our northward journey where we were warmly received by family, friends and friends made anew. Our Seattle concert allowed us the opportunity to meet and rehearse with Seattle based Bells of the Sound the pieces we would be performing together at IHS as co-representatives of the United States.

Arriving in Vancouver early we were able to take a day for relaxation and sightseeing through the beautiful surrounding area. Taking advantage of the opportunity, we unloaded our equipment the night before the symposium was scheduled to begin. The next morning we ventured to the Vancouver Convention Center – a striking building perched at the waters’ edge with glorious views. After registering and receiving our ID tags and lanyards, daily schedules and ‘swag’ bags, we were escorted into a gargantuan room that would house almost 800 of us for the next five days.

The opening ceremonies were impressive – with the welcoming warmth of staff and personnel a constant throughout our adventure. The ceremonies included a processional of flags representing all participating countries (with Tintab’s own Derek Nance carring the flag of the United States). The next five days were seemingly jam packed (a handbell ringer’s heaven) with ringing, ringing, ringing, mini concerts and a variety of classes from which to choose. The first evening we found ourselves in the midst of an event scheduled to offer the opportunity to meet ringers from all countries represented. It was a fun mixer, affording the opportunity to make for a more relaxed atmosphere throughout our time together over the next few days. While there, we were treated to two wonderful banquets which were both lovely and beyond compare.

Tintab performed for the massed group on the very first day of performances. Our reception was over the top with enthusiasm, to the point of a couple of young ladies from Hong Kong seeking out our director, Barb Walsh, taking pictures with her, wanting to come work with her, wanting to learn to conduct like her, wanting to bleach their hair blonde – the ultimate of compliments!

The opportunity to work with directors from around the world, many who had written/arranged the piece they conducted, was beyond words and incredibly inspiring. To work with constant translations of what was being said to us by directors was a fantastic experience. The opportunity to witness and appreciate differing ringing styles (the graceful and lovely ‘off the table’ style of Great Britain and Australia, and the tight, technical ringing of Japan) were just some of the eye opening, awe inspiring attributes of being a part of the big picture. To make new acquaintances and friends from around the world, proudly represent our country, and be respected for such, says so much and we couldn’t have been any prouder to be selected. Yet another opportunity for us, as a group, to bond more closely and grow stronger in unity. Our being a part of IHS afforded us the opportunity of sweet, unforgettable memories for each and every one of us – and suddenly it was time to head home.

— Barb Cote, Tintabulations