Welcome to Sonos Handbell Ensemble!   Artistic Director: James Meredith

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Thanks, Sonos, for raising the level of our little family radio show from the comic to the cosmic to the something beyond.

-- Garrison Keillor
Host, A Prairie Home Companion

You guys actually impress us in a way that takes us out of ourselves as symphonic musicians. We see something at a whole other level and, frankly think, if you could ever have an orchestra at that level of intensity and be at that level of detail, you'd be doing very, very well. This is why Sonos is so impressive every time I see you guys do something. It was great when we had you with the symphony. It was great to see you at Garrison Keillor. We really don't expect that level of concentration and achievement out of anything, much less a handbell choir!

-- Maestro Michael Morgan
Music Director, Oakland East Bay Symphony

Olympians of handbell ringers.

-- Joyce Johnson Hamilton
Music Director, Diablo Symphony

Widely considered the best handbell group in the US.

-- Sarah Cahill
East Bay Express

The Oakland East Bay Symphony gave concert goers a rare treat Friday evening ... in a bold stroke of programming, the Symphony premiered the only known major work written specifically for handbells and orchestra. Sonos Handbell Ensemble ... joined conductor Michael Morgan ... in William Ludtke's bracing, immensely likable "Suite for Handbells and Orchestra" ... the sounds were enchanting and the piece enthusiastically received. Watching the talented Sonos perform added a great deal to the enjoyment of the piece. It's clear that playing a handbell requires a great deal more than knowing which bell to pick up and when to shake it. The ringers deftly snap their wrists, creating a consistent single ring that somehow lands precisely on the correct beat. It's mesmerizing and immediately engaging. Much to the delight of the audience, the ensemble demonstrated its considerable skills with an encore: The "Trepak" from "The Nutcracker."

-- Roger Kim
The Oakland Tribune

The world premiere of William Ludtke's "Suite for Handbells and Orchestra" ... found 12 members of the Sonos Handbell Ensemble arrayed at the back of the stage ringing away as if they were exorcising demons. Watching the soloists brandish their instruments, attack them with felt-covered mallets and damp them on cue was a fascinating experience ... the encore, without orchestra, of a bit from Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" ballet, was, as led by the group's music director, James Meredith, critically disarming.

-- Allan Ulrich
San Francisco Examiner

The Oakland East Bay Symphony's season opener in Calvin Simmons Theater Friday night included William Ludtke's "Suite for Handbells and Orchestra", an attractive and, for many, ear-opening work. The Oakland concert, under music director Michael Morgan, was both fun and impressive. For at least one listener, the whole notion of the handbell ensemble was a new one, and -- once the images of Christmastime malls dispersed -- a delightful discovery. The variety of sonorities that the bells produce is surprising, and the ease and precision with which the players combine their individual notes into long melodies is remarkable. Ludtke's six-movement suite ... exploited those possibilities nicely.

-- Joshua Kosman
San Francisco Chronicle

William Ludtke's "Suite for Handbells and Orchestra" ... presented a whimsical series of sonically novel vignettes ... (it) contained many successful expressive effects, from the bracing bittersweet jangles with which it began to the all-bell Vivace, in which a baritone ostinato supported sparkling soprano melodies played with watchwork precision. The audience's response was enthusiastic, but it was delirious after Sonos played, as an encore, the "Trepak" from the "Nutcracker Suite".

-- Rocky Leplin
The Montclarion

The musicianship...is solid, and the musical values regarding repertoire and its execution are invariably of the highest order. So is the sound. [Reviewing Christmas with Sonos Handbell Ensemble]

-- David Vernier

Your group is quite simply, spectacular! The program was fun to watch and marvelous to hear ... The audience was, as I was also, thrilled by the amazing coordination of the players, the rich sonorities, and the execution of highly musical performance. Sonos' performance was such a sellout with this audience, who clearly loved every second of it - including dozens of young children - and who hollered for more, that we invite you back next year and beyond!

-- Alexandra Ivanoff
Noontime Concerts, San Francisco

Your music added a splendid visual and aural dimension ... I am particularly impressed by the range - the amazing range - of colors, dynamics and moods that you coax from the bells; somehow you have achieved that rare combination of virtuosity and musicality - all present with style, wit and professionalism!

-- Magen Solomon, Music Director
Oakland Symphony Chorus
San Francisco Choral Artists

The concert was the most beautiful handbell music I have every heard. I have heard lots, having been a leader of handbell choirs for 20 years. Your technique and precision are outstanding, but most memorable was the tone quality that you somehow have managed to obtain -- it is ethereal -- it sounds like one instrument played by one person instead of 58 bells played by 12 people. I hope to hear you many times again .. I would go many miles for the privilege.

-- Ilene Holmgren, Past President
Mu Phi Epsilon International
Music Sorority, Berkeley Alumni
Berkeley, California

I was truly impressed by the musical range your group displayed. The playing was sensuous and exuberant. The audience was captivated with sounds they did not know existed, and the visual impact was hypnotizing. All in all, it was a musical feast for the senses and one that we shall not soon forget.

-- Frederick de Boer, Director,
Friends of Music Concert Series
Transfiguration Episcopal Church
San Mateo, California

After your performance, the art of handbell ringing has a new following! The audience went wild with your program. You play with musical sensitivity and yet, when flair is called for, you rise to the challenge. Your teamwork is unsurpassed. You have our unqualified recommendation.

-- First Concert & Speaker Series
Las Vegas, Nevada

Your group was fabulous ... What talents you have in your ranks. I absolutely loved the more avant-garde selections.

-- Valerie Stephenson, English Handbell Ringing and Music Education Specialist.
New Orleans, Louisiana

It always says something about a group when you keep the attention of the adults as well as the children during your performance.

-- Captain Linda Pittock, Salvation Army
San Francisco, California

The comment most often heard was "I didn't realize that you could make that kind of music on handbells". You have raised our sights to a new level.

-- Richard Coulter, Past President
American Guild of English Handbell Ringers

Your technique was impeccable. Your dynamics, perhaps the hardest to achieve on handbells, were thrilling. The choice of music gave a new understanding of how bells fit into the wide world of music.

-- Nancy Jessup, Handbell Specialist
Concordia College, Irvine, California

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