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Rapid City
South Dakota 

BoH 2017






Monica McGowan

Monica S. McGowan took her music education background – Bachelor of Science, Music Education, Chadron State College, Chadron, NE – and found her life’s passion in handbells. Three decades later, Monica has become the consummate handbell musician: accomplished ringer, seasoned director, internationally recognized clinician and conductor and Master Technician. She is in demand as a conductor and clinician for festivals and workshops across the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada. Monica served as Director of Handbells in various denominational churches from Minnesota to Louisiana.  She has held various leadership and educator capacities for the Handbell Musicians of America on both the Area and National levels. During her tenure as the founding Artistic and Music Director of Twin Cities Bronze, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, she led the ensemble to recognition as an internationally acclaimed handbell ensemble known for its professional musical artistry.

      Monica currently serves as the Handbell Coordinator for the International Music Camp, succeeding the program’s founder, Fred Merrett. “Handbell Week” and “Adult Handbell Camp” are held each summer as part of the IMC’s Summer School of Fine Arts at the International Peace Gardens on the border of North Dakota and Manitoba. She opened her business, Ringing Restorations, in January 2004 and through her work in the repair, maintenance and refurbishment of handbells and handchimes, has achieved the title of distinction: Master Technician. Monica brings her extensive training, passion, love, enthusiasm and knowledge for handbells and handchimes to every forum and venue, providing a challenging, successful and fun experience for its participants.

To contact Monica, click HERE

    Rehearsal Director  
    Stephen Branch  

Stephen Branch –
brings a diverse background of performing experiences and educational credits. He is a graduate of Rapid City Stevens High School and has deep roots in the Black Hills region. He began his academic career with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater, from Northwestern College (Orange City, IA) in 1979. He continued study at the University of Colorado (Boulder, CO) where he added a Master of Music degree in Voice Performance in 1986 and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Voice Performance and Pedagogy in 1993.

Branch has performed with Opera Colorado (Denver, CO), Colorado Lyric Theater Festival (Boulder, CO), The Goodman Theater and Opera San Benedetto (Chicago, IL), Cedar Rapids Symphony (Cedar Rapids, IA), San Diego Opera (San Diego, CA), Moonlight Theater (Vista, CA), the Black Hills Symphony (Rapid City, SD) and a variety of dinner theaters along Colorado's front-range.

Steve held faculty positions at South Dakota State University, University Nebraska at Kearney, San Diego Christian College (El Cajon, CA) and is currently adjunct faculty at John Witherspoon College (Rapid City, SD). Prior to this, he held music and worship arts positions at Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, IL, Kearney Evangelical Free Church, Kearney, NE, and Emmanuel Episcopal Church here in Rapid City.

Steve is currently the choir director at the First Congregational Church in Rapid City. He resides in Rapid City with Nanette, his wife of more than 37 years. They enjoy hiking, the outdoors in general and planning their next get together with their grandchildren.

copyright 2007-2017
Bells of the Hills Inc.
  To read about all former directors, click HERE