Area 12 Composition Contest 2024

Area 12 is happy to announce that the winner of our 2024 Composition Contest is “Retrofuture” by Ron Mallory. This winning composition will be published and be included in the repertoire list for the 2024 Area 12 Youth Conference, Bellz: The Next Generation, September 27-28 at Concordia University Irvine, CA. Congratulations to Ron!

We had a total of 13 submissions from 12 composers – all excellent submissions. As chair of the committee, I was very excited to see so many pieces submitted for our consideration. I truly encourage all of these composers to keep writing, and get their pieces to publishers – I want to play those pieces!

Tessique Houston
Chair, Area 12 2024 Composition Contest

The Composition Contest has returned! The winning composition will be performed at the Area 12 Fall 2024 Youth Conference, in Southern California.

The Handbell Musicians of America Area 12 Composition Contest strives to expand the handbell repertoire with interesting and accessible compositions, while providing a tool for learning and enjoyment at the Area 12 conference.


Composition contest applicants are not required to be a member of Handbell Musicians of America (the Guild), nor are they required to reside in Area 12 (California, Guam, Hawaii, and Nevada), but Guild and Area 12 members will be allotted additional points in the adjudication process (see below).

Composition Guidelines

Should be suitable for massed ringing at approximately 3-7 minutes in length.


Applicants may submit compositions of any level of difficulty. The adjudication process has allowed for pieces with the broadest appeal and largest audience to be scored higher. Keep in mind the following concepts for divisional mass ringing (under the current Guild difficulty level system):

Combined Massed including all divisions: For 2 octaves with significant optional notes for 3, 4, 5, or more octaves or for 3 octaves with significant optional notes for 4, 5 or more octaves or for 3-5 octaves; difficulty level range 2 or 3.
This event is geared toward youth, most likely in the 8th through 12th grade range.
It is expected that the youth will learn the piece over the course of the 2-day event.

Composition thematic types may include:

Original compositions with or without additional secondary instruments.
Arrangements with or without additional secondary instruments.


Arrangers of copyrighted music must include in their submission documentation certifying that permission to make the arrangement and permission to publish the piece has been granted by the copyright holder.
Must cite the publication date of the original score from which the arrangement was made if the original work is now in the public domain, or
Must cite an authority which has declared the tune from which the arrangement was made is an anonymous or folk melody that is in the public domain and therefore freely available.


The winning composition contest entry shall be considered for publication. Area 12 will offer to assist with publication if the applicant does not have a publishing authority they wish to work with.

 Adjudication Criteria

An anonymous panel will adjudicate all compositions based on the following criteria:

Musicality (60 points)

  • Interest – is the composition novel or interesting, and does it enhance the general handbell repertoire?
  • Artistry – does the composition possess an inherent beauty of musical sound?
  • Construction – is the composition musically well constructed?

Technical Merit (25 points)

  • Appropriateness – is it a good composition for instruction in a mass youth setting?
  • Accessibility – will choirs be able to identify with the composition and want to play it outside of the conference?
  • Playability – can the composition be played with relative ease, while still providing adequate challenge and interest?

Discretionary (5 points)

  • Points may be given according to a judge’s fondness for a particular composition.

Area 12 Affiliation (5 points)

  • Five points will be awarded to composers who reside within Area 12.

Guild Affiliation (5 points)

  • Five points will be awarded to composers who are members of Handbell Musicians of America or are associated with an organizational member in good standing.


One $1,500.00 prize shall be awarded to the winning composition. Should the adjudication panel deem no piece acceptable, no prize shall be awarded. The panel, at their discretion, may cite Honorable Mentions (without a cash award).


The winning composition will be announced via Area 12 social media, newsletter, and website by March 31, 2024, and performed at the Handbell Musicians of America Area 12 Youth conference to be held  in the Fall of 2024. Area 12 reserves the rights to the premiere performance of the winning composition.


All entries must be received no later than January 31, 2024.

Composition contest submissions:

  • Should be unpublished and not under consideration for publication.
  • Must follow the guidelines in the Handbell Musicians of America Notation Guide so as to be graded using the current National Difficulty Level System and standardized notation.
  • Submissions shall include a copy of the score and an audio recording of the piece.
  • Score shall include no identifying marks on copies of the composition itself (such as the applicant’s name).
  •  Handbells are the preferred instrument for the audio recording. It should be understood that a different timbre (such as piano or synthesizer) could affect the perception of the piece.
  • Electronic copies via email are preferred; however, mailed submissions will be accepted. Please include an email address and phone number for future correspondence.
  • Shall be sent to the Composition Contest Chair (Area 12 Past-Chair) as noted below.
  • Must be received by the deadline for entries.
  • Submission material (manuscripts, files, and recordings) will not be returned and non-winning submissions will be destroyed following the conclusion of the contest.

E-mail entries and inquiries to: [email protected].

Send an email to the Past-Chair for mail-in instructions.

Applicants will receive email confirmation of their submission within 72 hours of receipt. If confirmation is not received, please contact the past chair at the above email address immediately. If your submission is sent on the last day of acceptance, please contact the Past-Chair immediately to confirm receipt.

 Summary of Rules

  • Composition Contest applicants need not be a member of Handbell Musicians of America.
  • Only one composition will be chosen.
  • Composition may be for Division A, B, C (when conference is divided into divisions), or Combined Mass, but Combined Mass is preferred.
  • All compositions may or may not add additional secondary instruments.
  • The winning Composition Contest entry shall be considered for publication.
  • If the adjudication panel deems no piece acceptable, no prize shall be awarded.
  • All compositions must be received no later than January 31, 2024.

Have questions? Send an e-mail to [email protected].