• Vancouver-header-BCPlace.jpg

About IHS 2016

Originating in 1988, the International Handbell Symposium is the opportunity for handbell ringers and directors from around the world to come together and share a first-class musical experience that goes beyond the boundaries of language. The symposium is held every two years, the location rotating between the seven current member countries: Australasia, Canada, Great Britain, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and the United States.

Ringers from these countries and more meet with the shared goal of fostering better communication between ringers of the member nations, maintaining high musical standards of ringing and performance, and encouraging continued interaction between countries. The event features rehearsals and performances by as many as 1,000 ringers at one time under the batons of top handbell conductors from around the world. In addition, a series of concerts featuring individual choirs from each country are offered throughout the event as well as classes focusing on handbell techniques, cultural awareness, repertoire, and much more.



SOUNDINGS: The Music of Our Lands and Our Lives

The 17th International Handbell Symposium, which will be held in Vancouver, Canada from July 26-30th, has been titled SOUNDINGS: Music of our Lands and Our Lives, and the theme of the event is evident in this phrase’s layers of meaning.

The clear reference to the sounding of a bell, representing the music we create, is focussed by the subtitle to bring to mind the music and the sounds that represent not only who we are as people, but also the places we are from. This idea is particularly focussed by Canada's rich aboriginal history and culture, combined with Vancouver's reputation for leadership in sustainability and environmentalism. Honouring the ancestors of this land, including the aboriginal ways of knowing and being within an environment, has encouraged us to explore the many complementary ways that First Peoples cultures and environmental sustainability intertwine and connect within community. We look forward to other nations sharing the sounds of their lands and lives of their peoples at IHS 2016.

The alternative meanings for the English term ‘sound’ and ‘sounding’ also reflect various aspects of the theme for the 2016 Symposium. A ‘sound’ is also a term used to describe a body of water, often one which lies between the mainland and an island. This connects the theme of the Symposium again to the environment, but also to our host city of Vancouver, BC which is situated on Canada’s Pacific coast. ‘Sounding’ is also a nautical term for measuring the depth of water – an appropriate reference for our community as we gather to deepen and explore our ties as musicians from around the globe!

We are thrilled to welcome one and all to Vancouver in 2016 – how exciting to be together again with colleagues and friends, old and new!