So you want to hire a handbell choir . . .  

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)


1.    How much do you charge for a concert?

Our usual concert fee is $800. We charge an additional $100 travel fee for every 25 miles beyond a 25-mile radius around our rehearsal location, which is Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 30650 Six Mile Rd., Livonia, MI. (So a concert that is 26-50 miles away would be $900; 51-75 miles would be $1000.) We ask for payment the day of the concert.

2.    Do we have to sell tickets?

How you cover the fee is entirely up to you. Some groups sell tickets, others do a freewill offering during the concert, and still others have an endowed concert series of which this concert is a part. While $800 may seem like a lot at first, it really is only 80 people at $10/ticket, and we generally have audiences of more than 100.

3.    What other requirements do you have of a host?

The biggest two requirements are space and time. As a five-octave choir, we play on 39’-42’ of linear table space. Preferred setup is either one or two rows or an inverted “U” shape, but, as can be seen in the photos on this site, we can be quite creative in our ability to fit into a variety of space configurations. We also request the ability to be in the performance space 2-3 hours ahead of the concert time so that we can get set up and adjust our playing for the sound properties of the room. Other than that, we just ask for two rooms for changing. And, of course, we would never turn down cookies!

4.    What would we have to do to publicize a concert?

We will provide you with a group photo, short bios for the group and Artistic Director, our logo, and a flyer template for you to use. You know your area and what typically works best, but we recommend hanging posters around the community, publicizing in church bulletins (your own and those of nearby congregations) for a few weeks in advance, including something in the “community events” section of the local newspapers or Websites, sending out Facebook invites, and best of all, getting people excited about the concert so they tell their friends! We also list the concert on our Website and Facebook page and in programs for prior concerts.

5.    How long are your concerts?

Concerts range from 1-1.5 hours in length and may include an intermission. Whenever possible, we also include a “dialogue with DHE” – a time when audience members can ask any questions they might have about bells, the Ensemble, and the like.

6.    What types of music do you play?

Our Artistic Director, Dr. Michael Burkhardt, is gifted at putting together concerts that have a flow and include variety in musical styles. They may include themes based on seasons in the church year, musical periods, or images invoked by the pieces themselves. Most concerts include primarily original works for handbells, but we also play arrangements of hymn tunes, classical works, or popular melodies as appropriate.

7.    How far in advance do you book?

We prefer to have a concert season mostly set by the time rehearsals begin in the fall. That does not mean that we cannot add anything else, but availability of members must be determined first. One thing that makes a handbell choir different than almost any other type of musical ensemble is that each person is responsible for an individual part, there are no two people playing the same thing. This means that if someone is missing, so is the flow of the music. Essentially, the members of the Ensemble are like a keyboard player, with each member responsible for his/her own “set” of the white and black keys.

8.    Will you play for our Christmas dinner/company party/tree-lighting ceremony…? We only need you for 15 minutes, so it should be easier (and therefore cheaper), right?

As you might imagine, Christmas is one of our busiest times in the season – both as an ensemble and because most members are also church musicians. We generally cannot fill requests for concerts on short notice at that time of year, and week-night events are rarely possible because of competing commitments. As for the short time to play, the amount of practice, equipment, and setup required do not depend on the length of the “gig.” As another handbell group was rumored to say, “The fee is for us to show up and unload the equipment truck. The concert is free.”

9.    Alright, I got it. I can do all this, how do I book a concert????

That’s the easy part! Just email the business managers, Nancy Kindraka and Shelly Walldorff at info@detroithandbellensemble.org.