Musicians of Bells of the Cascades

About

Matthew Compton

Vancouver, WA

Matthew Compton is Bells of the Cascades’ music director. A Colorado Springs native, he has been composing, arranging, and conducting music for handbells since 2007 when he was in the eighth grade. He had his first composition published at the age of fifteen, making him one of the youngest published handbell composers. Matthew has numerous compositions and arrangements in print or in the publishing process (Sonology, Hope, From the Top, Lorenz, Jeffers).

An avid performer, player and student of handbell music, Matthew is known for his high-energy original compositions and arrangements, and beautiful harmonies.

In addition to being a guest clinician at handbell festivals across the country, his music is used frequently at local and national handbell festivals, like the Bay View Week of Handbells, Distinctly Bronze East and West, and the International Handbell Symposium. He has been the recipient of the Donald E. Allured Composition Award.

His music has been performed across the world by many elite groups, including The Agape RingersPikes Peak Youth Ringers, Hong Kong Youth Handbell Ensemble, and the Alleluia Ringers of Concordia University Wisconsin.

Matthew graduated in 2016 from Concordia University Wisconsin with a degree in music and a focus on composition and conducting. In his spare time, Matthew can be found streaming a variety of games and music performances on Twitch, going hiking, or enjoying any number of movies, anime, or TV shows!

Josh Billings

Vancouver, WA

Josh Billings moved to Vancouver from the Twin Cities in January 2021. He has been involved in music since second grade when he started taking piano lessons. He played in the inaugural chime choir at his home church before playing in the handbell choir. He then continued to play in the handbell ensemble of Concordia University St. Paul for four years. He graduated with a degree in K-12 Vocal Music Education in the spring of 2016. After a year off from playing bells, he became a member of Bells of the Lakes based in Minneapolis before moving and then joining Bells of the Cascades.

Josh is now a board member of BOC. Josh currently works at Loomis in Portland and is the pianist at Salmon Creek United Methodist Church in Vancouver. He always enjoys playing the piano, going for hikes, or just hanging out with friends.

Beth Davidson

Oregon City, OR

Beth Davidson started ringing handbells in Duluth, MN, in 1972 and has rung nearly every year since. She discovered the joy of solo ringing in 1993, after attending her first national festival. She rang with Bells of the Cascades for a few years in the late ’90s before leaving to concentrate on her work with David Jordan in the duet team of Handbells Unlimited! She was a cofounder of “Solo/Ensemble Extravaganza,” the first national workshop for small group and solo ringing. Beth is married and has three grown daughters, three step-children, and seven beautiful grandchildren. By day you will find her baking and decorating cookies for her custom cookie business, GeeBee’s Cookies. Check out her cookies on Facebook and Instagram.

Ben Froeschle

Portland, OR

Ben Froeschle began playing handbells starting in middle school when they joined the Calvary Episcopal Church handbell choir in Columbia, Missouri. They continued ringing in college at St. Olaf College for all four years, and toured with both the St. Olaf Choir and the St. Olaf Handbell Choir. Ben then joined Bells of the Cascades right after college when they moved to the Portland metro area.

Ben is currently in a masters program for social work at Portland State University.

Cindy Gronbach

Portland, OR

Cindy Gronbach began her handbell career while searching for a new church choir with which to sing. She started ringing at Savage Memorial Presbyterian Church in 1985. In 1989, she took a conducting class at an AGEHR festival, has been directing Savage’s bell choir since 1993, and has been directing the bell choir at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church since 2014. She is an accomplished solo ringer and has taught several handbell technique classes. Cindy has been ringing with Bells of the Cascades since 1991—the longest-serving member, and the only member who has been on every BOC cruise!

In addition to serving on BOC’s membership, cruise, and fundraising committees, Cindy grooms and boards dogs, and volunteers for the Oregon Humane Society. She also hand-crafts greeting cards. She enjoys spending time with her long-haired Dachshund and long-haired Chihuahua, and being in the yard watching the antics of her chickens, but never both at the same time. She developed an interest in canning and making homemade treats, so harvest season often finds her in her kitchen chopping and peeling vegetables and fruit to can. Her favorites are almost anything pickled! Her dream is to have a yard full of vegetables and flowers, but alas, thus far that has only been a dream.

Alisa Hampton

Cornelius, OR

Alisa Hampton picked up her first set of handbells in junior high at the Methodist Church in Brecksville, OH. She joined the Sunset Presbyterian Church bell choir of Beaverton, OR in 1992 with her best friend, and was hooked. She then played at Valley Presbyterian Church, also in Beaverton, where she ventured into solo and duet ensembles. When she moved to Forest Grove, OR, her love of handbells prompted her to help found a new bell choir at Forest Grove United Methodist Church, and she joined Bells of the Cascades in January of 2015. Alisa also plays the piano and dabbles in writing compositions for bells and the church’s vocal choir. Her four children are also very musical and don’t mind her being an official ding-a-ling.

Barbara Hughes

Vancouver, WA

Barb Hughes started playing piano and flute as a child and continued both into early adulthood. She played handbells for two years as a teenager at Church of the Covenant in Cleveland, OH and performed with that group at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. in 1965. Then she went about the rest of her life. In May of 2017, handbells called to her again and she joined the Salmon Creek United Methodist Church Exultation Ringers in Vancouver, WA, directed by Matthew Compton. With Matt’s encouragement, she auditioned and was accepted into Bells of the Cascades in August of 2017.

Barb works to maintain this website and send out emails on behalf of BOC, and is a current member of the BOC Board. With our web consultant, she is developing a new website to launch our upcoming 35th Anniversary season. She is a retired book editor, can recognize two spaces after a period from a mile away, collects frog figurines, and lives with her partner Mark and two cats. She adores her two daughters, one son-in-law, and two grandchildren, all of whom live entirely too far away!

Debbie Ivanov

Beaverton, OR

Debbie Ivanov is the only current member of Bells of the Cascades who is also a founding member. In fact, she is one of two co-founders! (However, she is not the longest lasting member; Cindy Gronbach gets that honor!) Between working and raising a family, Debbie took several breaks from ringing. But now she is actively ringing and serving on the Board of BOC and is the current Secretary. Currently working in administration at Kaiser Permanente, Debbie also directs the handbell choir at Tualatin Presbyterian Church. Besides handbells, her hobbies include her grandchildren, crocheting, and gardening.

Mary Markham

Portland, OR

Born and raised in Northeast Portland, Mar Markham began playing their first instrument (flute) in the 6th grade. Later, while playing baritone saxophone at Concordia University Portland, Mar learned that handbell choirs existed and joined the university’s ensemble in 2017. As a former dance team coach and choreographer, Mar’s favorite instrument by far is handbells because it combines both worlds of musicianship and movement. Mar joined Bells of the Cascades in Fall 2021, rang in Velocity Handbell Ensemble for a season, then returned to BOC in Fall 2023!

Having earned a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work in 2019 and a Master’s Degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs in 2021, Mar now works as a Disability Resource Specialist at Clackamas Community College. When they’re not ringing, you might find Mar hanging around the social dancing scene at Portland Lindy Society events, or spending quality time with their pets!

Joey Ostrand

Ridgefield, WA

Joey has been playing hand chimes and bells for about twenty years, and he joined Bells of the Cascades in 2018. He appreciates the support and influence that his home church has given him to really start and build his musical career. Joey serves a couple churches (including his home congregation) in a musical vocation, serving as handbell and/or choir director. Joey also serves as a full-time music teacher at a local Christian junior/senior high school.

Arthur Pascual

Vancouver, WA

Arthur Pascual is a recent transplant from Reno, Nevada, where he first started ringing. Fairly new to handbells, it took nearly ten years for a friend to convince him to try it out. Originally playing percussion in local orchestras and bands in Reno, he eventually gave in to the temptation and started ringing with a local community group, Tintabulations. There, his fascination led to becoming a handbell lifer. Since moving to Vancouver, Arthur has continued his love and passion for music by joining Bells of the Cascades.

Outside of handbells, Arthur is an online math teacher and a baker at a cookie store. Furthermore, he has traveled and worked around the world, visiting more than 40 countries, and residing in five of them to pursue his passion for teaching. His biggest goal in life is to hit all the continents (still has Antarctica), to run a marathon, and eventually earn his Doctorate. But for now, he is just enjoying the greenery here in the Pacific Northwest.

Nancy Patton

Tigard, OR

Nancy Patton started ringing handbells in the ’90s, when her mother encouraged her to give it a try. She had no idea what a handbell was, had never touched or seen one, but in her usual way, was determined to please her mom. And her mom was right—handbells are really fun to play, which is still true after all these years. Nancy never mastered a musical instrument in her youth so ringing handbells as a “group instrument” is a great joy for her! Now she considers herself a musician and honors her mother through her love of handbells.

Since 2002, Nancy has been a member of Bells of the Cascades. During that time, she’s been President, VP, and Secretary on the board. These days, Nancy oversees equipment, which is a perfect fit for her love of details and organization. And there’s a lot of equipment. When not ringing bells, Nancy works as a sales engineer for a legal software company in Portland, which mixes her high-tech background with her law degree. Nancy loves living in the Pacific Northwest, relocating to Portland from the San Francisco Bay Area over twenty years ago.

Kat Riley

Portland, OR

Kat Riley has always considered herself a church musician. She has been a guitarist, bass guitarist, and singer in many praise bands and it was through church choir that she was introduced to handbells. Always ready to try something new, she joined Lake Carillon at Lake Oswego United Methodist Church and was hooked. By her reckoning, she has been a part of nine bell choirs, the most recent being Bells of the Cascades. She has also tried solo ringing and played flute and percussion with bell ensembles.

In addition to handbells, Kat volunteers at Lake Oswego Adult Community Center where she has been a van driver and knitting teacher for over 25 years. With a wonderful husband, two adult children, three grandchildren, and an active dog, she uses what little free time remains to travel and knit, knit, knit.

Andrea Schmidt

Vancouver, WA

Andrea Schmidt joined Bells of the Cascades in Fall 2022. She grew up a farm girl in a central Kansas Mennonite community where music was highly valued. She began playing the violin at age 4, piano in grade school, band instruments in junior and senior high school, and finally the pipe organ. Besides singing and playing in the school band and community orchestra, Andrea participated in her church’s youth bell choir. She then attended Wichita State University and obtained a degree in music performance and education.

Over the years of growing up and moving to college in Wichita and eventually to the Pacific Northwest, Andrea has always made it a priority to find a church with a bell choir. When she’s not ringing handbells, she works as a dental assistant in Portland and spends her free time running, cycling, and working out at the gym. She also loves cats and coffee!

Sherry Symington

Portland, OR

My love of music began with piano lessons at age 5, and then I played oboe and english horn through middle and high school. When joining the Westminster Presbyterian Church in the mid 80’s, I was delighted by the handbells. I was soon lucky enough to join the choir and I’ve been a member ever since. When my friend and fellow member of Bells of the the Cascades suggested I sub for her and consider auditioning for the group, I learned how ultimately challenging and exciting bell ringing can be. I am so honored to have been accepted as one of the newest members. My other love has been the traditional Scottish Bagpipes and at an early age started Scottish Highland Dancing, eventually teaching this dance form for 20 years.

When not ringing bells, I work part time as a transportation coordinator for Nike events, a job that has taken me to Paris, New York, LA, and Texas. I live in NE Portland with my four-legged friend Mo, and we love spending time at my cabin on Mt. Hood. I have three beautiful daughters and son-in-laws, along with five wonderful grandchildren. I love to cook and bake and am often asked to cater traditional English teas and create Fiddly Bits for parties. Reading, knitting, and traveling as much as possible round out my time.

Jim Troisi

Lake Oswego, OR

Jim Troisi has rung bells since 1996 when he joined a bell choir to understand how the heck a bell choir can make such beautiful music when everyone only plays a few notes. He’s still trying to figure it out. Jim joined Bells of the Cascades in 2009 and has served as the Bookkeeper and Cruise Committee chair. He currently is the BOC Board President and Treasurer.

Jim also plays in the Covenant Bell Choir at Lake Grove Presbyterian Church in Lake Oswego, OR. Jim’s retired from working many years at IBM as a third line software development manager and now volunteers as a substitute teacher for the Lake Oswego School District. Any free time he has left is spent reading, exercising, and working in his garden.

Martha Wilson

Oak Grove, OR

Martha Wilson has been with Bells of the Cascades since around the year 2000. Though not a member at the time, she did go on the first BOC cruise to Alaska in 1992. She served on the board for ten years. A retired mental health therapist, Martha is in her second career as a real estate agent. She serves as an elder and sings in the church choir of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Portland. She is married to Kris Sparks, a former BOC member. In her free time Martha enjoys traveling, wine tasting, and both baking and cooking, as well as snuggling with her dog, Gracie. If you’re in need of a realtor, please visit my website!

Board of Directors

Bells of the Cascades is a 501(c)3 nonprofit registered in the state of Oregon. Our board members for 2023–24 are:

  • Josh Billings*
  • Ben Froeschle*
  • Barbara Hughes*
  • Debbie Ivanov* / secretary
  • Allison King
  • Jim Troisi* / president and treasurer

* current ringer

We are always looking for new members of the board, including members of the community and non-ringers! If you’re interested in serving on our board, please contact us and let us know!

Associate Members

Bells of the Cascades extends special thanks to our Associate Members!

Associates are people who have an interest in the affairs of Bells of the Cascades, but are not active ringers. These may include spouses or other family members, substitute ringers, members of the community, and more. Our associates do much of our behind-the-scenes work—including serving on committees, ushering at concerts, and other types of assistance as needed. They are our unseen “worker bees.”

Thank you to our current Associate Members:

  • Tom Foley
  • Kris Sparks
  • Brenda Troisi

If you are interested in being an Associate Member of Bells of the Cascades, please contact us.