Opus Members

Rich Colla

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 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.
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 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 Brown

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 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.

Trevor Hutton

Trevor Hutton

Kathie Mackie

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 many years.
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 financial consultant and retired CPA and CFO.
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 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 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!
Melissa Schuler

Melissa Shuler

Lori Smith—Librarian

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 Tinajero

Cindy Tinajero

     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!

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.

In memoriam
  • Will Aprile
  • Beth Clause
  • Lois Ertel
  • Lynn Ferrini
  • David Hardy
  • Margaret Squires Mooney
  • Bob Stewart
Special mentions and substitute ringers - thank you!
  • Michele Meenk
  • Stephen Reddy
  • Burt Vasché
  • Polly Vasché
  • Sandi Walker-Tansley
  • Terry Halverson — Founding Member