The term “velocity” is sometimes defined as distance traveled per unit of time. But with Velocity Handbell Ensemble™ you will experience the movement of music through space. Velocity actually takes its name from the lesser-known dictionary definition: “the rate of change of position in relation to time.” In other words, it’s not just about speed—it’s about having the right rate of speed. You could call that “right rate of speed” movement —just the right amount of movement for each song: sometimes fast and sometimes slow, but always at the right rate to make music that moves™.
Velocity is a community handbell ensemble based in California's San Francisco Bay Area. A non-profit 501 (c) (3) corporation, Velocity is dedicated to moving the artistry of handbells towards musical excellence with a high standard of performance. Formed in 2001 as a small ensemble, Velocity has at the heart of its mission statement the words “have fun!” Velocity has continually astounded its audiences, first with its ability to play up to six octaves of handbells with six ringers, and more recently in configurations from two to eleven ringers.
Velocity is working to bring the experience of handbells to youth in the Bay Area and watch the next generation of our artform evolve. From 2013 to 2019, Velocity members mentored a middle school handbell, hand chime, and boom whacker ensemble at a public Montessori arts and music magnet school in San Mateo. And in spring 2021, Velocity partnered with Harbor House in Oakland to create a hand chime program for their afterschool enrichment program. If you would like to help Velocity continue its youth programs, please contact us to volunteer or head on over to our donation page!
Dr. Christian Guebert
Velocity’s Artistic Director, Dr. Christian Guebert is a composer and music educator from Orange, California. His commissioned works include published and award-winning pieces, settings, orchestrations for instrumental and choral ensembles, and concert-length compositions. He completed a Ph.D. in music composition at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in 2020 with a published dissertation on “Timbral Use of the Handbell Ensemble.” As a frequent program director, he has headed several yearly concert series, including community handbell ensemble concerts and sacred music festivals. His concert-length choral song cycle of Walt Whitman sea poetry named “Voyaging” (for choir, harp, and large handbell ensemble) was the prizewinning piece of the nationwide 2017 Pacific Chorale Young Composers Competition; it was premiered March 2019 by the John Alexander Singers. In addition to leading Velocity, Dr. Guebert serves as Director of Parish and School Music at Abiding Savior Lutheran Church in southern California.
Assistant Director Marquise Usher began ringing handbells in 2002 at a church near his home in Oakland, California. At age 18 he successfully auditioned to join both Sonos Handbell Ensemble and Velocity Handbell Ensemble and has toured the United States, Estonia, Finland, and Japan. Because of his love of music and handbells, Marquise has had the good fortune to perform, teach and conduct around the world with both Sonos and Velocity, as well as with Timbré Ensemble and at Handbell Musicians of America events. Marquise has directed two church handbell groups and served as the Handbell Director and Junior Chorus Director for the San Francisco Boys Chorus. He continues his love of the artform, and has recently published several compositions for handbells.
Pamela "P.L." Grove
Velocity’s founding artistic director, Pamela “P.L.” Grove has been at the forefront of handbell artistry in America for more than 45 years. P.L. made her living working for the government but has always spent as much time as possible playing piano, singing, composing music, and performing on handbells. A graduate of the renowned music department at Mills College, she is one of the few people to have completed a college degree in handbells. As a founding ringer with the critically acclaimed Sonos Handbell Ensemble, her more notable performances include those with the San Francisco Girls Chorus, the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, the Kronos Quartet, Frederica von Stade and (twice) on public radio’s A Prairie Home Companion. Now as president of the board of Velocity Handbell Ensemble and past president of the Handbell Musicians of America, she continues to pioneer in the field of handbells.