History of the IHS

A Brief History of the International Handbell Symposium by Sun-Joo Shin – Executive Secretary of the Handbell Ringers of Japan

The history of the International Handbell Symposium dates back to August 1982 when David R Davidson (then president of the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers AGEHR) attended the National Handbell Workshop hosted by the Handbell Ringers of Japan (HRJ). During his visit as guest clinician, a need for an international gathering of handbell ringers was suggested. He, together with Kazuo Ohta (board member HRJ) and Sun-Joo Shin (then deputy secretary HRJ) decided to create the International Handbell Symposium where handbell ringers from all over the world can gather to participate and exchange cultures through the ‘art of handbell ringing’.

The principal purpose for the International Handbell Symposium was to promote the flourishing of communication between nations, the spreading of handbells as art, and to extend the spirit of world peace through music.

The first International Handbell Symposium was held from 13th to 17 August, 1984 at the Humboldt State University, Arcata, California. It has been held every two years since then. The first round of events were in Gotemba, Japan in 1986, Exeter, England in 1988, Seoul, Korea in 1990, Edmonton, Canada in 1992 and Adelaide, Australia in 1994. The event has attracted some 600-800 participants from all over the world.

The original spirit and intention continues as people seek to enhance international relationships through their love of this unique musical instrument, handbells

Symposia Locations

1984 Arcata,California, USA

1986 Gotemba,Japan

1988 Exeter,England, UK

1990 Seoul,Korea

1992 Edmonton, Alberta, CA

1994 Adelaide,South Australia, AU

1996 Albuquerque,New Mexico, USA

1998 Chiba, Japan

2000 Birmingham,England, UK

2002 Busan, Korea

2004 Toronto,Ontario,CA

2006 Brisbane,Queensland, AU

2008  Orlando,Florida, USA

2010 Osaka, Japan

2012 Liverpool, England, UK

2014 Jeju, Korea

2016 Vancouver,British Columbia, CA

2018 Australia

2020 Hong Kong

2022 United States of America

2024 Japan