Opus Members

Rich Colla

Richard J. Colla-Artistic Director

     Richard J. Colla is artistic director and conductor of the Opus Handbell Ensemble. He is also the full-time Minister of Music and Worship at Trinity United Presbyterian Church in Modesto where he has directed a variety of vocal and instrumental ensembles since 1990. Richard joined the Modesto Junior College music faculty on a part-time basis in the Spring of 2003. He currently directs the Concert Choir, Masterworks Chorus and Chamber Singers and teaches An Introduction to American Popular Music. He has also taught Music Appreciation and Music Fundamentals. Richard has also served as a member of the voice faculty at California State University, Stanislaus and is an active adjudicator and lecturer. He has presented lectures on a variety of topics including vocal technique and literature, choral literature and methods, as well as handbell techniques. He and his wife, Ginger, also conduct joint workshops in vocal techniques.
     Richard is very active as a bass-baritone soloist and has appeared extensively in recital, oratorio and opera performances. Most recently, Richard sang the bass solos in Mozart’s Coronation Mass under the direction of Sir David Wilcox in Coventry, England. Richard served a four-year term (1993-1997) as the California State Chair for Repertoire and Standards of Music in Worship for The American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA). He has also published articles in The NATS Journal for the National Association of Teachers of Singing, The Cantate California for the American Choral Director’s Association and The Journal for the Choral Conductor’s Guild. Richard received his Bachelor of Music degree with honors from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln in vocal performance, and his Master of Music degree at the University of Illinois in choral conducting.
     Richard and his wife, Ginger, were honored as the recipients of the 2007 Excellence in Arts Awards for music by the Stanislaus Arts Council. Richard’s choir at Trinity United (Koinonia Choir) was invited to participate in a performance of John Rutter’s Requiem in New York’s famous Carnegie Hall in 2005. The Koinonia Choir and Opus Handbell Ensemble toured to England where they performed Handbell and Choir concerts in June (2008). As part of that tour, the choirs participated in the International Church Music Festival in Coventry, England.
Judy Aprile

Judy Aprile

     Judy’s love of music began with piano lessons when she was five-years-old. Since then she has accompanied choral and instrumental groups, taught early childhood music education, given private piano lessons, directed children’s choirs at church and school, as well as being a 4th grade teacher for the past 23 years. Judy started playing handbells in 1997 and loves being an integral part of an ensemble of musicians.
William Aprile

Remembering William Aprile—Board Music Librarian and Resident Composer

     William holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the California State University, San Francisco and a California State Teaching Credential from the California State University, Stanislaus. He is a retired district music specialist of 32 years with Stanislaus Union School District. He directed the Modesto Symphony Youth Orchestra, Junior Division, for 20 years and has performed with the Modesto Symphony Orchestra since he was in high school, playing bass, except when he was in the Air Force as an officer and a pilot. William has been playing handbells since 1992 and joined the Opus Handbell Ensemble in the Spring of 1996.

Will passed away in December of 2016. He will be greatly missed.  
Barbara Bort

Barbara Bort—Board Historian

     Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., Barbara started her music training at the age of five. She has BME and MA degrees from Andrews University in Michigan. After moving to California, she played cello with the Modesto Symphony for several years, while teaching private piano and organ lessons. For 26 years Barbara taught second or third grade in the Ceres School District. Now that she is retired, she enjoys teaching lessons, reading, and tutoring at the county library two days a week. She is head organist for her church, where she also plays in the handbell ensemble. Barbara and her husband Marvin enjoy travelling, when they can get away from their responsibilities in Modesto.

Darin Brown

     Darin is a mathematics professor at San Joaquin Delta College. Darin has filled in for several Opus members during concerts. He joined as a full-time ringer for the Spring 2017 season.

Michelle Brown

     Michelle is a Manteca native and began her music education with piano lessons at the age of six. She learned to play the alto saxophone at 10 years old, and was also involved with choir and marching band throughout high school and college. Michelle was introduced to handbells through her church choir and has been an avid ringer ever since. Michelle was a frequent substitute ringer for Opus, and joined officially in the fall of 2016. She enjoys watching science fiction movies and caring for her two young children.

Beth Clause

Remembering Beth Clause

     Beth has been involved in instrumental and vocal music for many years. Beginning at age seven, she has played piano and flute and sang in a choir. She graduated from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, where she was a member of the Concert Band, Orchestra, Concert Choir, Collegiate Chorale, and Madrigal Singers, with degrees in Elementary and Special Education. Currently, she enjoys singing with Trinity Presbyterian vocal groups. Beth has taught elementary school for 19 years.

Beth passed away in March of 2017. She will be greatly missed.  
Trevor Hutton

Trevor Hutton

Lynn Ferrini

Lynn Ferrini

Cindy Jacobs

     Cindy is originally from Santa Marla, California. She received her Bachelors of Music degree from Redding's Simpson University in 2009. There she joined the university handbell ensemble and discovered her love for the instrument. In August of 2016, Cindy moved to Modesto and began to teach music for elementary students in Patterson. She joined Opus in September of 2016. Outside of teaching music and playing handbells, Cindy likes playing her clarinet and board games - just not simultaneously!

Kathie Mackie

Kathie Mackie—Resident Composer

    Kathie Mackie holds a B.A. in music from California State University, Stanislaus, and a M.M. in Composition from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She was among the founding ringers of the Opus Handbell Ensemble at its inception. Kathie is also a composer, who began composing shortly after her introduction to handbells in 1983, when her very first composition won the 1984 AGEHR Area XII Composition Contest. Kathie went on to win the 1986, 1990 and 2008 Area XII contests, the Greater Dallas Handbell Association Composition Contest and later, the Livermore/Amador Symphony Orchestral Composition Competition, where her orchestra piece “A Journey of the Heart” was premiered. She has several handbell works, and a piece for Symphonic Band published. She has received a number of commissions, including a piece for Handbells and Wind Ensemble, which was premiered by the Golden Gate Handbell ringers and conducted by handbell master, Donald Allured. She was later invited to serve as Honorary Chair for the Golden Gate Boys Choir’s Old English Christmas Feast held at the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco. Kathie has taught instrumental music in the schools, and currently, maintains a small private teaching studio. In addition to handbells, Kathie also plays flute, clarinet, organ and piano, and she has served as a church Director of Music for many years.

Michele Meenk

Michele was born and raised in Los Angeles and moved with her family to Modesto in 2001. She is a student at CSU Stanislaus, majoring in Psychology and is interested in working with autistic children. Michele is very involved in music. She was a member of the Modesto Symphony Orchestra Chorus and has been in several musicals, including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Oklahoma, Sound of Music and Les Miserables. She plays baritone saxophone in MoBand every summer and sometimes plays for her high school’s plays. Michele began playing handbells in elementary school, starting in 1997. She has also played piano for a number of years and completed Certificate of Merit level ten, earning her senior medallion.
Carl Morris

Carl Morris

Carl Morris has been playing handbells in church ensembles since 1990 and has rung bass bells with Opus since 2005. Carl also plays the clarinet and has sung in choirs almost his entire life. He is currently in the Modesto Symphony Orchestra Chorus and in the First United Methodist Church Chancel Choir. Professionally, Carl is a C.P.A. and is the C.F.O. and Controller for GoldRiver Orchards and Barton Ranch in Escalon, CA.
Maggie Paton

Maggie Paton—Webmaster, Board Secretary

Maggie Paton needed a Fine Arts class in high school and chose "Introduction to Handbells" because it sounded fun and unique. She has now rung for over 12 years and has fallen in love with playing bells. In addition to Opus, Maggie has played for her high school's Advanced Ensemble, the Wisconsin Lutheran College Tower Ringers, and Madison Area Concert Handbells (Madison, WI). Besides being an avid choir ringer, Maggie likes playing small group and solo pieces. Maggie was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and attended college there. She also attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison for graduate studies in Computer Science. Maggie married her "graduate school sweetheart", Jim, in June 2014, and they moved to California together a month later. Maggie works as a software engineer for the start-up company Rubixis. Maggie also enjoys reading, singing, learning the piano, and taking Taekwondo classes. She joined Opus in the fall of 2014.
Sally Price

Sally Price

Sally has been playing in the Opus Handbell Ensemble for more than 15 years. She was born in Stockton into an Air Force family and felt fortunate to live in many parts of the United States, as well as three years in England. She majored in Music and Psychology at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, then returned to California to earn a Masters in Education from Stanford. On June 1, 2013 she retired after 39 years as a music teacher for the Turlock Unified School District, specializing in guitar at the junior high and high school levels. Since her retirement, she has joined the Kichenaire Keynotes, a singing group, as well as the Funstrummers Ukulele Band, both of which perform regularly at various senior residences in the greater Modesto area. What a privilege to see the restorative power of music first hand on a weekly basis!
Stephen Reddy

Stephen Reddy—Board President

     Stephen has been playing handbells off and on since 1986. He’s been ringing with Opus almost a year and a half. Since January, 1988, he’s been Minister of Music at Modesto Church of the Brethren. He’s been active in the ecumenical concerts to benefit Habitat For Humanity, Stanislaus, directing the combined choir on three occasions. Stephen has taught at Marshall Middle School, Edison High School, presently teaching Spanish at Ceres High School. His wife, Jolinda, teaches fifth grade at Empire Elementary School and son, Nathan, is in first year at Modesto Junior College.
Melissa Schuler

Melissa Shuler

List Traughber

Lisa Traughber — Booking Coordinator

     Originally from Cincinnati Ohio, Lisa began ringing in 1975 and was hooked for life! She came to California in 1990 and met Bobbie Young, a retired Opus ringer, who introduced her to the handbell choir at Centenary United Methodist Church. She attended one of Opus’ first concerts, and met its founder, Terry Halvorson, whose talent and enthusiasm for bell ringing was the challenge she was looking for. She is a Graphic Artist for Trinity United Presbyterian Church, and is a member of the Modesto Symphony Chorus and Chamber Ensemble. In her spare time she enjoys bike riding, swimming, the classical art of dressage and antique carriage driving.

Special thanks to our substitute ringers and those on extended leave:
  • Lori Smith
  • Burt Vasché
  • Polly Vasché
  • Naomi Woods