Meet the Director: Jessica Kite, Concordia Handbell Choir and Concordia Ringers

Published by Amy Crawford 1 month ago on Wed, Apr 17, 2024 1:03 PM

With two auditioned handbell ensembles and 45 years of ringing history, Concordia University, Nebraska has one of the largest collegiate handbell programs in the Midwest. Concordia Handbell Choir and Concordia Ringers are each made up of 14 ringers. 

Directed by Concordia Nebraska alumnus Jessica Kite ‘02, these auditioned ensembles perform with a combination of Schulmerich and Malmark handbells and handchimes ranging from G1 to C9. They also utilize two octaves of Schulmerich Silver Melody Bells and Malmark Cymbells.  

“The use of silver, bronze and aluminum instruments allows the ensemble to play a full range of advanced repertoire featuring a variety of bell timbres and techniques,” said Kite. 

Not only does Kite serve as the director of handbell choirs for the university music department, she is also adjunct professor of the Music Across the Curriculum course for the university’s education department. This course focuses on how to integrate music in the elementary classroom. 

“Concordia Nebraska is a special place to work because we are able to integrate the Gospel message into the work that we do,” she said. “Specifically in handbells, we are able to share the Gospel through the variety of music that we play. I appreciate being part of a music department that cares about excellence and helping our students develop their abilities to the glory of God.” 

Kite has a bachelor of science in education with concentrations in K-12 vocal music and elementary education from Concordia Nebraska and master of music degree in music education from University of Nebraska - Lincoln. She has worked at the university since 2006. In addition, she serves on the state committee for Handbell Musicians of America and serves as a clinician for handbell workshops. 

“Directing handbells was not something I planned to do, but God has blessed me richly through my many years at Concordia,” she said. “It is a joy to get to know the university students and help Concordia’s handbell program grow.” 

Concordia Nebraska’s two handbell ensembles are open to music majors and non-music majors who have a passion for ringing. Both ensembles rehearse twice per week. Concordia Handbell Choir has performed for the Capitol Tree Lighting in Lincoln, Nebraska and for programs on NET Radio. Concordia Handbell Choir has recorded one album titled “Faithful.” Both handbell ensembles play for church services, campus chapels, workshops and perform regular concerts. 

 “I enjoy getting to create exciting music with the college students,” said Kite. “It is fun to introduce students to handbells who have never rung before and work with experienced ringers to play more difficult music. I enjoy doing some creative things in our performances and sharing how much fun it can be to make music with handbells. It is wonderful seeing hymn texts come alive through the handbell arrangements we play and being able to share that with students and audiences.” 

Kite and her husband have two daughters. She enjoys walking, baking, creative projects and spending time with family. Kite also teaches piano lessons to about two dozen piano students outside of her work at the university.  

“I enjoy working with beginning piano students and helping them discover piano music they love,” she said. “I enjoy arranging simple hymns for my piano students as a hobby as well. Whether at the elementary level or the collegiate level, I am blessed to be able to make music with students in a variety of ways!” 

Concordia Nebraska handbell ensemble concert information is updated frequently on Facebook. A variety of music ensemble experiences are available for new and returning students at Concordia Nebraska. Are you interested in glorifying God and sharing the gospel through music? Apply today