Richard J. Colla-Artistic Director
Richard J. Colla is artistic director and conductor of the Opus Handbell Ensemble, a post he has held since 1995. He is on the faculty at Modesto Junior College where he teaches Introduction to American Popular Music. Over the years, Richard has taught a variety of courses and has directed all the choral groups. In 2020, Richard retired from his position as Minister of Music and Worship at Trinity United Presbyterian Church in Modesto where he had directed a variety of vocal and instrumental ensembles since 1990.
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 has been active as a bass-baritone soloist and has appeared extensively in recital, oratorio and opera performances. 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 Assoc. (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 Assoc., 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 (Koinonia Choir) was invited to participate in a performance of John Rutter’s Requiem in New York’s famous Carnegie Hall in 2005 with the composer conducting. The Choir and Opus Handbell Ensemble toured to England where they performed Handbell and Choir concerts in June (2008). Richard has also taken his choir on tours to Italy in 2012 and Austria in 2015.
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.
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 and reading.
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 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 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.
Kathie Mackie—Resident Composer, Founding Member
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
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 financial consultant and retired CPA and CFO.
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 14 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 Transunion Healthcare.
Maggie also enjoys reading, singing, and hiking.
She directs and plays with the Laudate Ringers
of St. Joseph Catholic Church / Mission San Jose in Fremont.
She joined Opus in the fall of 2014.
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!
Lori discovered handbells at church during her
high school days, and has enjoyed playing them through the years whenever they
were available. Her background includes Dunaj International Dance Ensemble,
Stockton Chorale, various church choirs, piano, clarinet, and guitar. She
greatly enjoys travel, and has recently discovered the fun of working backstage
in community theater. Last summer she sharpened her skills by attending a
handbell workshop at the Zephyr Point Conference Grounds in Lake Tahoe, which
reignited her passion for handbells. Most recently, she has helped revitalize
the handbell choir at the Presbyterian church in Tracy, California.
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!
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.