The Great River Ringers

About Us

Who are the Great River Ringers?
Go to MUSICIANS

MUSICIANS

First and foremost, we are all musicians who love making music. Most of us are also active musicians in other capacities, including singing, playing, composing, and directing.

Go to HANDBELL PLAYERS

HANDBELL PLAYERS

The Great River Ringers perform on 5 octaves of Schulmerich handbells and 4.5 octaves of Malmark chimes. The equipment and rehearsal space are graciously provided by First Congregational Church of La Crosse.

Go to ENSEMBLE

ENSEMBLE

One of the most unique facets of playing handbells is that our whole group is playing ONE instrument. That requires us to pay close attention to each note and how it relates to the melody, chord, & harmony that it’s a part of.

Great River

“The Great River” is a nickname for the Mississippi River. While we live on both sides of the Great River, the group is based in La Crosse, Wisconsin, right on the Mississippi.

Want to book us for a concert at your venue? Are you a skilled handbell musician interested in joining the Great River Ringers?

Great River Ringers

September 2017

MEMBERS

CHARMAINE UPHAUS

Ringer, Gardener, Traveler
Charmaine has been ringing handbells for over 30 years in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. She has done some solo and ensemble performing. She volunteers for several organization. In her spare time she enjoys gardening, cooking, travel and doing counted cross-stitch.

EMILY SPEROPULOS

Ringer, Juggler, Hatmaker
Emily has played handbells for 8 non-consecutive years since 2005, including with the Christmas Ringers in the 2007 Christmas at Luther performance. After moving to La Crosse in 2011, she joined the bell choir at First Lutheran in Onalaska. Emily also enjoys playing clarinet, gardening, reading, and chilling with her husband and dog.

JEANNE SWANSON

Ringer, Cellist, Balloon Artist
Originally from La Crosse, Jeanne played in a community group in Las Vegas for 13 years. Returning to her “roots”, she not only enjoys ringing with GRR, but is an avid Mah Jongg player, kayaker, and gives tours at the International Crane Foundation during the summer months.

Patti Dockendorff

Ringer, Whistler, Storyteller
I caught the handbell bug over 15 years ago, and have rung ever since in my church bell choir and with the Great River Ringers. Retired from my occupation as an accountant, I provide granny day care to two adorable grandkids. I also enjoy gardening, walking, hiking and biking.

SANDRA PASCHE

Ringer, Animal Lover, Obsessed with Purple
Sandra has been ringing with the handbell choir and playing duets at Faith Lutheran Church, St. Charles MN since 2003. She’s employed as a personal banker/crop insurance agent and city clerk. She and her husband, Mike, enjoy traveling, camping, and spoiling their cat and 3 dogs.

SANDRA TROENDLE

Ringer, Baker, Mountain Hiker
Sandra is a founding member of the Faith Lutheran Bell Choir in St. Charles, MN established in 1998. Her favorite part of playing bells is performing duets with good friend, Sandra Pasche. Outside of work and bells, Sandra enjoys “playing” with her grandchild, sewing, and traveling.

SCOTT PFITZINGER

Ringer, Composer, Homebrewer
Scott has been playing, composing for, and/or directing handbells since 1991. He has been composer-in-residence for Embellish and Circle City Ringers before moving to La Crosse in January 2017. He is a librarian at UW-L and is active in the Society for Creative Anachronism.

SHERRY SAWLE

Ringer, Horn Player, Chainsaw Sculptor
Sherry started THE Bells about three years ago. She also currently plays French Horn in two community bands. Sherry has a pet-sitting service and is honored to assist the Great Ringer Ringers with bell ringing because according to the movie It’s A Wonderful Life, “every time a bell rings an Angel gets its wings”.

SUE KELLER

Ringer, Comedienne, Herbalist
Sue is new to Great River Ringers, but not to hand bells and music in general. Currently retired from ministry and teaching, Sue enjoys the challenges provided by this group. Sue is married to Ed. They have a black rescue cat named Leah. Sue was born and raised in Southern Wisconsin.

TOM UPHAUS

Ringer, Gardener, Music Lover
Tom began ringing bells over 50 years ago while a student at Elmhurst College (IL), and has since played with various church bell groups in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. He is a retired pastor who enjoys gardening, travel, attending symphony and band concerts, and listening to classical music.

TREVOR DUPEY

Ringer, Organist, Spelunker
Trevor began ringing in his high school handbell choir in 1990. They would perform secular music at the school concerts and participate at competitions playing classical orchestral pieces arranged for bells. Currently he is an Organist and Handbell Director in La Crosse.

VICKIE UNFERTH

Ringer, Baker, Gardener
Vickie Unferth began playing bells in 2000 in Okemos, Michigan. She moved back to La Crosse in 2009 and now plays at Wesley UMC and 1st Congregational UCC. Vickie works as director of international student services at Viterbo University. Other passions are the environment and neighborhood associations.

SUE RETZLAFF

Director, Ringer, Photoshop Wizard
Sue began ringing as a sub and now finds herself ringing in two bell choirs and directing two others. She loves music and also plays flute in two community bands. Other fun things: family, photography, Photoshop, reading.

JACKIE TILLOTSON

On Loan to Germany
Jackie has been ringing handbells for various church hand bell choirs throughout the United States, Germany and Belgium since 1991. Her dream is that one day she and her daughter will perform a level 4 handbell duet. She is currently in Germany.

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