1966, when Fred A. Merrett introduced
handbells into his high school music program in Winnipeg,
it was a first for Manitoba. Moving to Edmonton in 1973,
he again pioneered as the first teacher to acquire and
utilize handbells in a classroom in that city. There
are presently over 100 sets now being used in Edmonton
schools, and 450 sets throughout the province of Alberta.
Merrett is well known as a composer and arranger of handbell
music, with more than 100 publications. In 1988 he won two
categories of the AGEHR Area II Composition Contest, with
his Merry-Go-Round and Pinafore Patter.
The latter piece was featured and performed at Carnegie Hall
by the Echo Choir of Japan. Merry-Go-Round was the
Canadian mass ringing work for the 4th International Handbell
Symposium held in Korea in 1990, and was used again at the
5th Symposium in Edmonton two years later. Mr. Merrett was
the Canadian Mass Ringing Conductor at both these events.
Fred's Suite of Canadian Folksongs won the Canadian
Handbell Guilds Contest to select the mass ringing number
to represent Canada at the 6th Symposium in 1994 in Australia.
At the 2002 International Symposium in Korea, his arrangement
of Jack Was Every Inch a Sailor was the Canadian
mass ringing piece.
2004, Fred completed 25 years as the coordinator and instructor
at the Handbell Session held annually at the International
Music Camp on the border between North Dakota and Manitoba.
He served as President and Past-President of the Alberta
Guild of English Handbell Ringers during its formative years.
In 1985, Fred was invited to London, Ontario, as Workshop
Clinician and Conductor. During that weekend, the Ontario
Guild of Handbell Ringers was established. The following
year, Fred was a mass ringing conductor/clinician at an International
Handbell Festival held in Vancouver, British Columbia, during
Expo '86, to which over 600 ringers came from the U.S., Japan,
and Canada. In 1991, Mr. Merrett held a workshop in Kelowna,
BC, where the groundwork was laid for the formation of a
guild in that province. The Manitoba Guild was formally established
in April 1996, when Fred was Guest Clinician/Conductor at
a workshop/festival in Brandon.
Merrett served the American Guild as a member of the "Committee
for Handbells in Formal Education" for six years, and
in this connection was on the teaching staff at the Directors'
Convention held in Denver, Colorado in 1990. He frequently
conducts workshops for directors and ringers in schools,
churches, and senior citizen centers in Edmonton and other
parts of Canada and the U.S. He also adjudicated at handbell
festivals on many occasions over the past thirty years. He
is the founder/conductor of the Bronze Harmony Handbell Choir,
a community group which began in the Fall of 1986, and consists
of graduates from his school ringing groups, from the Handbell
Sessions at IMC, teachers who use handbells/handchimes in
their music programs, or other interested adults who love
to ring handbells.
music by Fred A. Merrett