Experience the uniquely beautiful music

of one of America's finest handbell choirs

Meet MACH

Auditions

Nick Bonaccio Debi Robey Kris Lee Caitlin Ristow Jackie Hansen David Crowcroft Cara Argus Kristi Menninga Ashley Crutcher Rachel Bain Karen Paschke Jaime Henderson Kathie Brohaugh Alice Teter Alvin Menninga Diane Kohrs Sara Junio Nick Bonaccio

Music Director and percussionist Nick Bonaccio joined the Madison Symphony Orchestra in September of 2015 at the age of 23, while pursuing a master's degree at DePaul University in Chicago. He has performed with the Madison Opera, Milwaukee Symphony, Rockford Symphony, Vermont Symphony, Broadway Across America, and the Clocks in Motion percussion quartet. During his first season with the MSO, Nick was also an associate member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.

Nick is the Director of Handbell Ensembles at Bethany United Methodist Church in Madison, where he directs the talented ringers of the Bethany Carillons and Bethany Children's Bells. In January of 2017, he was appointed Music Director of the Madison Area Concert Handbells, just in time to celebrate its 20th Anniversary season.

Passionate about vintage percussion instrument restoration, Nick has worked for two of the most well-known names in the industry, Fall Creek Marimbas and Century Mallet Instrument Service, where he helped bring antique mallet instruments from a state of disrepair to concert-hall quality for clients worldwide. Nick completely restored his personal 1920's Deagan 870 xylophone from the golden age of vaudeville novelty music.

In addition to restoration projects, Nick produces a variety of percussion instruments and mallets of his own design used by musicians as far away as Amman, Jordan. His bronze symphonic triangles have been tested by members of the Cleveland Orchestra and Rochester Philharmonic; and are featured in Drew Worden's triangle sextet "Escape." As a composer, his piece Variations on a Balkan Rhythm has sold copies throughout the United States and Europe, and has been recorded by Chicago percussion soloist Peter Ferry.  back to top

Cara Argus [2017] started regularly playing handbells in 2006 when her family switched to a new church with 2 handbell choirs. After playing for 6 years she took a break while attending UW-Madison to receive her bachelor's degree in microbiology while also being a member of the mellophone section in UW-Madison's marching band. Cara currently works as a research specialist in DNA sequencing for the Thomson Lab at the Morgridge Institute for Research. When she isn't ringing Cara enjoys playing ice-hockey, playing ultimate frisbee, running, and helping take care of the goats, llama, sheep, dogs, and cats on her family's hobby farm. Cara is glad to be back ringing.  back to top

Rachel Bain [1999] is the daughter of two musicians, so it is no surprise that she has music in her blood. She began playing handbells in grade school and has been ringing ever since. When she's not behind a bell table, Rachel works in the UW-Madison Department of Chemistry as an Instructional Technology Specialist and directs the chime choir at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, where she is also a member of the church's brass group, orchestra and bell choir. Her list of favorite activities includes spending time with her family, doing crafty things, and baking desserts for MACH rehearsal potlucks. back to top

Kathie Brohaugh [2013] began her music career in 4th grade with piano and 5th grade with clarinet. At summer band camp in middle school, she took a course in handbells. Although they used toy handbells, her interest was piqued. She proceeded to play in choirs in high school and college. She joined MACH in Spring 2013. Kathie currently resides in Middleton with her husband. She works at UW-Madison in the Mathematics department as a graduate student advisor. In her spare time, she enjoys tutoring high school math students. back to top

David Crowcroft [1999], a native of Macomb, Illinois, began ringing handbells in 1991 at the Wesley United Methodist Church in Urbana, IL. He continued to ring at St. Paul's UMC in Ithaca, NY, while a physics graduate student. Following graduation, he moved to Madison, where he joined the handbell choir at Bethany UMC. David is a member of the Server Systems team at Epic, a medical software company in Verona. In his spare time, his interests include travel, politics, baseball and conversing in Spanish. David has enjoyed ringing in MACH since January 1999. back to top

Ashley Crutcher [2017] has always been musical, playing a variety of instruments. Her introduction to handbells was in high school when her school briefly added a choir to win more points in Solo & Ensemble. When not ringing, she's either at work as a UX Designer for InterVarsity, knitting with a cat on her lap, working out, or hanging out with her husband and their two dogs. back to top

Jackie Hansen [2003] began playing bells in junior high and has been ringing pretty consistently ever since. She joined MACH in Fall 2003 and now is scared to realize she is one of the "experienced" members of the group. She and her husband live in rural Marshall (and has the 2nd longest commute to rehearsal) where they are active in animal rescue. Jackie works as a manager at American Family Insurance and also enjoys camping, running with her dogs, and attending UW Volleyball games. back to top

Jaime Henderson [2011] began music as a toddler in church choirs, adding in piano, French horn, and handbells by the time she was in middle school. Since then she has played and sung in various choirs, both in Texas and now in Madison. When she's not being hockey mom to her young son, Jaime works as an instructional designer, developing online training programs. In her spare time she enjoys camping, biking, and playing video games with her family. back to top

Sara Junio [2010] began playing bells in 1992 and has been ringing or directing ever since. In 2010, she joined the MACH ensemble and enjoys ringing challenges as well as the opportunity to express her musical talents. When she is not ringing, working or spending time with her family in Oconomowoc, WI, she is travelling the back roads on her Harley-Davidson Softail motorcycle. back to top

Diane Kohrs [1997, 2017] has been involved in music her whole life. She bluffed her way into her church handbell choir by pretending to already know how to play, and they let her stay. Eight years later she auditioned for the newly forming MACH and became one of the charter members. She has been on hiatus for a few(!) years and is back for the 20th anniversary. Diane works at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church where she also directs a middle school band, plays in a worship band as well as orchestra, brass and anywhere else they'll let her in. back to top

Kris Lee [2014] first picked up a handbell as a freshman at St. Olaf College as a way of being involved in music without needing to sing or play an instrument. She took a break from handbells until settling in Middleton and eagerly joining St. Luke's bell choir 12 years ago. Now that her nest is emptying, she has more time and is excited to add another day of bell playing to her week by joining MACH. When not ringing, she works as a biostatistician for one of the research groups at UW-Madison looking at eye diseases. She has been involved with Girl Scouts throughout her life and enjoys reading mysteries and doing puzzles. back to top

Alvin Menninga [2016] has been involved with music in many forms his entire life and has been ringing handbells at Asbury Church for many years. He joined MACH in the spring of 2016 and is enjoying ringing with his wife, Kristi. Alvin is an IT Manager at Sentry Insurance and has three adult sons. In his spare time Alvin likes playing basketball, watching sports, and traveling with his family.  back to top

Kristi Menninga [1997] started ringing handbells in 1995 when Asbury Church bought their 5-octave set of bells. Two years later she auditioned for MACH and is one of the remaining charter members. Kristi is a Payroll Assistant for Epic. With all three sons now out of the house, she's doing whatever she wants, whenever she wants! That includes traveling to all UW-Milwaukee swim meets to watch her youngest son compete. Kristi enjoys counted cross-stitch, scrapbooking, reading, and traveling with her family. back to top

Karen Paschke [2002] became fascinated with handbells at the age of three. The director even allowed her to ring one of the smallest bells after a performance. At ten she began to play in her church handbell choir under the same director, and continued until she went to the University of Illinois. She moved to Madison in 2001 and joined MACH in the spring of 2002. She now teaches mathematics at Madison East High School and travels in the summer. This past summer she traveled to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia and Disney World. back to top

Caitlin Ristow [2010] first encountered handbells as a child and it was love at first ring. Over the years she has played in church choirs, with her college's choir, and most recently with MACH. In her spare time she can be found "orphan ringing" at handbell festivals, practicing handbell solos for worship at area WELS churches, and hiking the Ice Age Trail. back to top

Debi Robey [2008] has been ringing for nearly 30 years in both church and community groups in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Wisconsin. She has played at the White House, toured in England and Puerto Rico, and has attended bell festivals from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon, both as a ringer and as a rep for Handbell Services in Dearborn, MI. While deciding what to do "when she grows up," she spends her spare time gardening, biking, doing puzzles, and operating the carousel at the Henry Vilas Zoo.  back to top

Alice Teter [1997] was introduced to handbells in 1986 by a coworker who happened to direct a handbell group. Since moving to Madison to take up a position on the staff of the Journal of Chemical Education from which she is now retired, she has rung either regularly or as a sub in several church groups and was delighted to join MACH when it was first formed. After being on leave for health reasons, she is happy to be back ringing again. back to top

Auditions - now scheduling!

Do you desire to join a fun and talented group of handbell ringers? Are you a director who would also like to do some ringing? Here's the opportunity you've been waiting for! MACH is seeking experienced ringers. Auditions for new members are held by appointment. Some of the things you can expect to demonstrate at the audition are basic handbell techniques, rhythmic coordination, and sight-reading skills.

To set up an appointment to audition for MACH, please contact our president at pres@madisonhandbells.org.

Please note: Ringers who join MACH are encouraged to continue ringing with their current handbell choirs. MACH rehearses weekly on Mondays and sometimes on weekends at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1609 University Avenue in Madison. back to top

"It was as close to heaven as I've ever been."
-- audience member regarding December 1999 concert

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