James Cady started playing bells in the when he was 13, and has been ringing ever since. James has led a fairly musical life, dabbling in the cello, french horn, and occasionally singing, so when he was introduced to handbells, he fell fast. James has been ringing with Shoreline for all but the first season since its inception, and honestly, he couldn’t think of a more enjoyable way to spend his Wednesday evenings. When he’s not playing bells, James works as a freelance illustrator and web designer in Norwich.
Jean Degan is the Director of Music Ministry at St. Joseph RC Church in Bristol, CT. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Education from the University of Connecticut, a Bachelor of Music degree in organ performance and a Master of Music degree in Liturgical Music from the Hartt School of Music, University of Hartford. Jean discovered handbells in 1993 and has since organized 4 handbell choirs through the church and affiliated school, adding to the three vocal choirs and extensive cantor program. Jean has been a handbell clinician/director throughout New England. She is the past chair of Handbell Musicians of America Area 1. Jean also teaches private piano and pipe organ. She is a recitalist and accompanist on both piano and organ. Jean is very active in the Archdiocese of Hartford recording many CD’s of MusicQuest for the Small Christian Community Office.
Krishna Ersson discovered handbells while studying engineering and math at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. His diverse interests in music, dance, science, and technology and his belief that growth comes through constant challenge fueled a passion for exploring the unique artistic expression made through modern handbell ringing. Before moving away from the Boston area Krishna performed for six years with the Back Bay Ringers, founded the Back Bay Quartet, a handbell ensemble known for their entertaining arrangements and exciting performances, and was principal percussionist with the Metropolitan Wind Symphony. He enjoys attending high-level national ringing events, such as Distinctly Bronze, and was a member of the nationally auditioned Handbell Musicians of America All-Stars ensemble that performed at the 15th International Handbell Symposium in Liverpool, England. Krishna can now be found teaching handbell and percussion techniques at workshops and seminars throughout New England and nationally. He has taught at many Area I Festival Conferences, Directors’ Seminars, and local skill-building workshops, and served as the massed conductor clinician at the 2014 Area I High School RingOut. He served as Chair of the Area I Board of Directors from 2015 to 2019 and was the Chair of the 2019 Area I Festival Conference, the first Area I Festival to be held in Connecticut at the University of Hartford. Although originally from Portland, OR, Krishna now lives in Guilford, CT and leads software development at Butterfly Network, a startup building a handheld ultrasound imager that connects to an iPhone for use in human and veterinary medicine.
Susan Ewing has been ringing handbells since she was 12 years old and joined Shoreline Ringers in 2017. She learned how to ring 4-in-hand shortly after learning to ring handbells and has been hooked on the technique ever since. Her fellow ringers can attest that she will try to teach anyone this technique at any opportunity (no matter how wary they are of having 2 bells in one hand!). In addition to ringing bells, Susan also enjoys knitting and likes the balance of crafts and music with her day job – a scientist at Pfizer.
Cheryl Harger has been directing handbells at the First Congregational Church in Essex since 1999 but has never been a regular ringer until joining the Shoreline Ringers in 2008. Her degree is in Accounting but music has always been a part of her life. Her mother taught piano, so Cheryl began playing at an early age and then took up the clarinet in elementary school. This background proved to be most helpful as she began directing handbells with no formal music education at all. She’s proud of the three choirs she directs at her church: the Grace Notes, the Rainbow Ringers and the Cheerful Chimers and is enjoying this adventure with Shoreline Ringers. She lives in Ivoryton with her husband, two daughters, and numerous foster kittens.
Lauren Larson has been a member of Shoreline Ringers since 2006. Her “real job” is at Electric Boat Corporation. Apparently, science and music do mix. She and Pete Larson are married. She is an accomplished hula hooper and card shuffler, has conversed with orcas in the Pacific Ocean using her flute, and once played chicken with a barracuda. It turned first.
Mobby Larson is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, mostly retired, but serving as supply preacher in local churches. Active in various music ministries since 4th grade (many, many years ago!), she thrives on the fun and the challenge of handbell ringing. She got hooked after driving son Pete to rehearsals (not quite so many years ago), and thinking it looked like a good thing to try. Besides ministry and music, Mobby enjoys reading, writing, designing jewelry and spending time with family. She kept busy during this year of Covid sewing hundreds of masks to donate.
Pete Larson began his handbell career in 1993, under the direction of Jane Nolan, who taught him to love handbells while at St. Luke Lutheran’s Concert Handbell Choir. Having only taken about half a year off from ringing bells since starting, it is the activity to which he is most committed, biology notwithstanding. He currently works as an integration analyst at Progeny Systems in Groton. Pete also has two young children, who can sometimes been seen near the front row of concerts watching daddy (and mommy!) play bells.
Robin Martelle began ringing when she was twelve years old in Newtown, Pennsylvania. She teaches general music for Groton Public Schools and works at Saint David’s Episcopal Church in Gales Ferry. Robin received her B.S. in Music Education from the University of Hartford and has a Masters Degree in Education from Eastern Connecticut State University. She lives in Ledyard with her husband and 3 children.
Heather Milligan-Day started ringing handbells in the early 1990s at The Presbyterian Church of Stanley, Overland Park, KS, under the direction of Marilyn Lake. She continued into college, ringing at The United Methodist Church in Nevada, MO, before taking a ~20 year hiatus to focus on graduate school and her career. After settling in the New Haven area a few years ago, she attended a holiday concert by the Shoreline Ringers in 2021. She asked about joining and the group agreed to give her a shot! She’s been happily ringing with them ever since.
Jennifer Nicki started ringing handbells at St. Luke Lutheran Church in Gales Ferry, CT at the age of 12. She played under Jane Nolan until heading off to college. After moving out of state for many years, Jennifer returned to her hometown and was excited to join Shoreline Ringers and play under Jane again. She lives in Gales Ferry with her husband, Alex, and two sons, Alexander and Nathaniel. Jen also enjoys her job as a scientist at Pfizer. In her spare time, Jen enjoys hiking, snowboarding and playing video games.
Kristen Russo has been playing handbells since the age of 17. She has rung her way around New England starting with the St. Joseph Handbell Choir in Bristol CT, to the New England Ringers in MA, to Bells of Joy in Rutland VT, and now to the Shoreline Ringers! She is also a vocalist and sings with semi-professional choirs around CT as well as with the St Joseph Adult Choir in Bristol. Kristen spends her days working at Trinity Solar as a Concierge Team Lead. She currently lives in New Britain and directs the Asbury Methodist Church Handbell Choir in Bristol. Kristen has a degree in Music Education and is waiting patiently for the day when the Shoreline Ringers book their first cruise.
Emilie Steinnagel‘s handbell journey began the first day handbells were brought to St. Luke Lutheran Church in Gales Ferry, CT. She was one of the rosy-cheeked children chosen to demonstrate how easily handbells can be learned. When Emilie was in eighth grade, Jane needed one more ringer and roped her into the handbell world for good. Emilie played under Jane’s direction for five years and went on both Bells to Britain tours with the St. Luke Lutheran Church Concert Handbell Choir. While attending Smith College, she was president of the handbell choir and taught a two week beginner handbell class called “How Not to Ring Wrong.” Upon moving to the greater Boston area, Emilie joined the Back Bay Ringers, where she met her husband, Krishna Ersson. She now lives in Guilford, CT with Krishna and their children Kyan and Lilah. Emilie is the Referral Navigator at Women and Family Life Center where she supports women in accessing resources to mitigate life crises and transitions.
Laura Waite began ringing bells in her high school’s bell choir in Coatesville, Pennsylvania at the age of 15. She received her B.S. in Music Education from West Chester University and has a Masters Degree in Music Education from University of Connecticut. Laura teaches general/vocal music at Catherine Kolnaski Magnet School in Groton. She enjoys gardening and decorating her house when she’s not doing something musical. She currently lives in Gales Ferry with her husband Rob and her two children Kasey and Lucas and one fur baby, Beau.
Andy Wallace, of North Stonington, CT, is the Music Director at the Dunn’s Corners Community Church, Presbyterian, in Westerly, RI where he has spent twenty three years directing the choral and handbell programs. Andy has been ringing handbells in choirs and ensembles since 1991, is active as a solo ringer and as a clinician throughout Area 1. He is a middle school history teacher in West Greenwich, RI, and has received several outstanding teaching awards including the prestigious Milken National Educator Award, the “Oscars” of education.
Sue Wilber of Hamden, CT has been involved with handbells since 1988 and currently serves as Director of the Revelation Ringers and the Psalm Ringers at First Congregational Church in Watertown, CT; she also rings with the bell choir at her home church, Spring Glen Church, in Hamden, CT where she began a children’s handchime choir in 1988. Sue recently concluded a two-year term serving as Chair of Area 1 of Handbell Musicians of America, which comprises all of New England and the Canadian Maritime Provinces. Always looking for a challenge, she began doing solo and ensemble ringing in 1993 and has presented solo handbell concerts in Ocean Park, Maine for several years each summer as part of their “Wednesday Evening at Jordan” series. When not working with handbells, Sue enjoys playing the organ and serves as a substitute organist at many churches throughout Connecticut.
A lifelong Connecticut resident, Sue is the proud mother of three children (all of whom are handbell ringers) and one granddaughter. A graduate of Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA with a degree in biology, she has worked for many years in the banking and financial services industry, and is currently a Universal Banker at Webster Bank in East Haven, CT.