Alex Guebert '11 is becoming a national name in handbell composition and conducting — a field he studied intensively at Concordia Irvine.
“It was important for me to be at a college that had a strong bell program, and those are not very common,” Guebert says. “That’s one of the main reasons I chose to go to Concordia.”
He excelled at CUI, and handbells director Dr. Geisler asked him to direct pieces in their performances.
It was important for me to be at a college that had a strong bell program, and those are not very common. That’s one of the main reasons I chose to go to Concordia.
“To experience bells as a ringer and a director was invaluable for me,” Guebert says.
Geisler also commissioned Guebert to write a piece for their European tour, which they performed to a generous reception in Hungary.
What keeps Guebert coming back to the instrument is “the team aspect, the reliance on others,” he says. “In band, you’re playing your own instrument. If you weren’t there, maybe nobody would know. With handbells, everybody’s crucial.”
In the past five years, nearly a dozen of his original pieces and arrangements have been published by national publishers, with more on the way.
“I’m starting to see YouTube videos of my pieces by choirs I’ve never heard of,” he says. “It’s humbling and rewarding.”
He won two national composition contests and earned a master’s degree in music composition. Guebert likes to find fresh approaches using interesting harmonies and rhythms in his original pieces.
It feels like coming full circle for me because it was so formative in my own life. To have the experience and trust to direct that group is a real joy to me. I really love the students.
“I want to do things that maybe the handbell world hasn’t see much of,” he says.
Studying orchestral percussion at Concordia informs his handbell compositions today.
“The level of rhythmic accuracy you have to have to play handbells is unlike any instrument, including percussion,” he says.
Guebert directs groups at area churches, and this fall begins a new role at Concordia — as director of Concert Handbells, his musical alma mater.
“It feels like coming full circle for me because it was so formative in my own life,” he says. “To have the experience and trust to direct that group is a real joy to me. I really love the students.”