Meet Our Ringers
Take a moment to meet the ringers that make up the Bells of the Desert community handbell choir!
Bells of the Desert formed in September of 2009 with 18 members. Our ringers have many years of experience in Tri-City area church handbell choirs.
Anna Hahn - President
Music has always been a passion for me! I started playing piano after receiving a toy organ for Christmas as a child. My first handbell experience was over 36 years ago when I played in the Wesley Ringers handbell choir at Central United Protestant Church in Richland during my high school years. Many years ago, I joined the Agape Ringers at Kennewick 1st Presbyterian Church and continue to play there under Kitty's inspiring and encouraging direction. I joined the Bells of the Desert about 5 years ago. I love the challenge of working on the higher level music and making music with ringers from so many other handbell choirs. We are blessed to have Cathy Rohrig as our Artistic Director - Cathy brings her extensive knowledge, experience, dedication, and passion to the Bells of the Desert to inspire and challenge us to new heights. It has been an amazing experience and I look forward to a new season of ringing!
I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in private practice in Kennewick. I have been married for 29 years and have two grown children. We love spending time at the ocean whenever we can get away.
Elizabeth Erickson - Vice President
I have played handbells since 1976 when my church bought a set to use. I also play the piano and sing in my church choir and other community performances. I raised three children and have worked with children in some capacity for over 30 years. I have taught Spanish to students in Preschool through High School and am now teach students in a Special Education program. I also tutor at Sylvan Learning Center.
I began playing in Bells of the Desert when it was founded. I find Bells of the Desert to be a good creative outlet. I enjoy the challenge of learning new music and techniques while spending time with other people willing to work hard to produce a quality sound.
Rachel Mellinger - Secretary
I began learning to play handbells in 3rd grade, and have been playing music ever since. I also play clarinet and piano, and have played with many ensembles, including three years with the Whitworth University Wind Symphony. I currently sing with my church choir, and play with their bell choir. When I am not making music, I can usually be found knitting, reading, or baking.
Lorraine Shelby - Treasurer
Family, church and music are my three passions and the joy of my life. My husband and I have raised two sons and we now have eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. I have sung in choirs, played piano for services and to accompany various soloists and groups within the church and have rung handbells at Richland Baptist Church for many years, having been a member there since I was a child.
I was privileged to be a founding member of Bells of the Desert, but had to take about a year off. I rejoined the group in January, 2012 and look forward to many new experiences and challenges as we work to perfect our musicality as a group.
Music has always been part of my life. As a child, singing with my mom while doing chores, in church and school choirs, and playing clarinet and piano through high school.
I was introduced to handbells over 25 years ago and quickly fell in love with the "art of handbell ringing." I have played with, and currently direct, Central Carillons at Central United Protestant Church. I also perform with small ensembles and as a handbell soloist.
Over the years, as my church handbell choir became smaller, I longed for the sound of a full five-octave choir and the challenge of playing more difficult music. Out of this longing came Bells of the Desert. I am proud to be a founding member and honored to play alongside so many wonderful musicians.
I am a wife, mother and grandmother. I work full time in the finance office at Central Church. When I'm not working or playing bells I love to do scrapbooking and read. I have been playing bells since I was in middle school. That means I've been playing in a church bell choir for over 40 years! I love the way handbells sound and all the different things you can do with handbells. It is so exciting to have a community bell choir in the Tri-Cities and it's a joy to be part of Bells of the Desert. We work hard and we have a lot of fun!
I am a retired teacher-librarian. Reading and books are my first love, although playing and listening to many types of music is my second love. I have been a bell ringer for Bells of the Desert since it was founded and have been in my church bell choir for over 20 years. I love the challenge and different types of music that we ring in BotD. I also enjoy sewing, working in my flower garden, and walking along the beautiful Columbia River. My husband and I love to travel and visit with our two children and grandchild.
I have played bells for 20+ years in church choirs. I have sung in choirs since 1st grade, and perform vocal solos when asked. I am a charter member of BOTD. I joined for the fun and challenge of playing higher-level bell music with others who wanted the same. Ringing with some of the best in the area is always a learning and rewarding experience. Bringing high caliber bell music to you, helping others learn about bells and sharing the joy they can bring is what it's all about, not just for me but all of us. It's wonderful to be within a group that shares and cares together!
I am a wife, mother of two and grandmother of four. I am retired with my husband from our business and have less time than ever before. I enjoy reading, riding my Harley, quilting and crafty things. I love to be out on the river fishing but don't do much catching. I love God and appreciate all the blessings He has put in my life, especially the chance to ring bells and share their music.
I retired from the Richland School district after over 20 years as a teacher's aide. I began ringing in 1997 in a beginners basics class starting with "how to hold a bell." I was inspired by my 3 children who learned to ring bells when they were in 4th grade in our children's bell choir. Bells of the Desert challenged me to play more difficult music, participate with more players & share bells with the community.
I joined BotD because I love handbells and enjoy the fellowship of ringing with other folks from around the Tri-Cities. Graduated from Willamette University with a degree in Music Education, have a Master of Education Degree and earned a Level III in Orff Schulwerk. I am a retired elementary music teacher from the Kennewick School District having taught for 38 years. At Kennewick First Presbyterian Church, I direct the Agape Ringers and sing in the Chancel Choir.
My love of music began when I was 7 years old when I started taking organ lessons, thanks to my Mom. I am currently an organist at my church and play in our handbell choir. I am a wife, mother of two children and grandmother. My husband and I enjoy traveling and being with our family. We have hosted exchange students for the past eight years. I joined Bells of the Desert to develop and improve my handbell skills.
I am a stay at home mom - homeschooling my three daughters. I am also the coordinator for American Heritage Girls Troop 3130. I enjoy crafts, taking walks and teaching children.
I recently joined the BOTD because I enjoy music and the challenge of playing handbells.
My favorite things are bunnies and music. The rabbits go to rabbit shows, but also to nursing/retirement homes for pet therapy for residents. In addition to handbells, I love playing electric bass and singing in our church praise band.
I am a mother of two musicians, a piano playing clarinetist and a guitar playing violinist. I have enjoyed singing in many different choirs both in and out of church. I am a student of the cello and love playing bells with my church ensemble and with Bells of the Desert. During the day, I am a teacher at a middle school in Pasco. In my free time, I enjoy running, bicycle riding, gardening, sewing, and spending time reading great books!
Music has always been present in my life, having grown up in a household full of musicians. I sing and play guitar with my church's praise team, and play solo handbells in church and in the community. Playing with BotD gives me a chance to experience the teamwork of ringing in a choir. I enjoy the challenge of ringing with the most skilled and ambitious ringers in the area. In addition to music, my soul is fed by my profession as a hospice nurse. When I am not ringing or working, I enjoy taking long walks with my two dogs, playing on the river, and riding Harleys around the countryside.
Emily Wilcox Freeburg
I grew up in a handbell family! My grandmother and mother are both handbell directors in Iowa, where I grew up and got my start ringing. I now have a bell choir of my own at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Richland. I am an elementary music specialist at Marcus Whitman Elementary School, where I teach K-5 general classroom music, choir, orchestra, and a marimba ensemble.
I enjoy biking, running, hot yoga, and jigsaw puzzling in my free time. I'm an active member of the Mid-Columbia Mastersingers chamber and symphonic choirs, as well as a swing dancer of sorts. My husband, Eric, and I enjoy hiking, cooking, and doing home improvements together. We also spend a lot of time with our sweet new puppy, Eilidh, a Golden Retriever.
Eric Wilcox Freeburg
I have been ringing handbells for 5 years, starting back in Boston in 2010 with Emily's handbell choir. I enjoy the challenge that ringing in Bells of the Desert brings and am excited for my second season with the ensemble. I am a post-doctoral research associate at PNNL and received my Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts in 2014. I enjoy woodworking in my off time, as well as home improvement projects.
I have always loved playing handbells, and have been doing so almost weekly since elementary school. I joined BotD because I love the difficulty and beauty of the music. I work as a Software Engineer at the Hanford Site.
Music has always been an important part of my life. I have been in church choirs since I was very little. I have been a Handbell Director at Westside Church for over 20 years. I worked for 10 years as a computer programmer for Battelle Northwest and then Rockwell. I have volunteered in many areas of my church. I currently work part time as an Administrative Assistant for our Youth Pastor.
Music touches my soul. I have been involved in music and performing off and on many years. My mom started me off right be getting me started on piano lessons in late elementary years any my interest and skill set has grown since. I have played wind instruments (mainly clarinet), helped in the percussion section, and been part of marching bands and orchestras through university years. I have also been in choirs. I started playing hand bells in high school at my local church, then again when I moved to the Tri-Cities almost 3 decades ago. My most recent foray has been to join the Bells of the Desert. I attended their Christmas concert in 2015 and was captivated by the skill of the players and the diversity and amazing techniques the songs require. I was hooked and I absolutely love being in the group.
By day I am a home health nurse, mother, wife, dog owner, plant officianato, cross stitcher/quilter and outdoors gal. I also taught at CBC for nearly two decades and love living in a community where I can see the positive impact that living and working with integrity and intentionality makes a difference.
Cathy Rohrig - Artistic Director
A relative newcomer to the Tri-Cities, Cathy is officially retired! She served as Director of Music Ministries at churches in Idaho and New York and taught piano for 35 years. Cathy spent eight years on the board of directors for the northwest region of the Handbell Guild, including a term as Area X Chair.
Wherever we have lived, handbells have provided a way to feel "connected" in the community. Bells of the Desert offers a creative outlet as well as a chance to teach, learn and experience the diverse repertoire for this amazing instrument.