Larry Sue has been a church musician since 1974, when he became the accompanist for his church’s new youth choir. That led to opportunities with guitar, voice (naturally baritone, but usually tenor, and occasionally bass and alto), keyboards, electric bass, choral conducting, and choral composing.
He was introduced to handbells in 1987 at a choral conference, and soon after joined the handbell choir at his church. In his second season with them, the group ended up playing five octaves of bells with ten members, at which point he became a bass ringing specialist with the nominal assignment “CD4, and anything to the left that you can manage”. This rather accelerated education in ringing led to his being a clinician on many aspects of handbells, especially bass ringing technique.
Larry has been a member of Bay Bells, one of the longest-running West Coast community ensembles, and currently is a member of the Kalamazoo Ringers, the longest-running bronze community ensemble in the United States. He has also participated in Distinctly Bronze West and the Bay View Week of Handbells, being part of the bass ringing team in both events.
Larry has directed handbell ensembles at a number of churches, as well as having been privileged to be a festival conductor at events such as the Rogue Valley Handbell Festival, the Siskiyou Summit Handbell Conference, and the SECC Handbell Festival in southern California. He has also had the privilege of directing bronze-level groups such as the Bronzefest ensemble at HMA Area 8.
In 2005, he and the other Bay Bells bass ringers became Low Ding Zone, the World’s First Bass-Only Handbell Ensemble, serving as the group’s “conceptual founder and Artistic Figurehead”. Over the next eight years, they attempted to create as much havoc in the handbell world as they could, and continue to feel that they did pretty well at it.
Larry has been a published handbell composer since 1990. His arrangements and original works have been in the repertoire of many handbell choirs, as well as being included in the repertoire lists of various events, such as Distinctly Bronze and the Bay View Week of Handbells. He has also been commissioned to write works for handbells.
Larry and his wife Carla connected in 2008 as members of the Handbell Community Online; they “graduated” to Facebook shortly thereafter as they embarked on a long-distance relationship between England and California. In 2012, Carla’s handbell trio became a duo, and so Larry started writing eight-bell music for them to play for Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th-anniversary celebration. After Larry and Carla were married later that year, Larry continued writing eight-bell music for them to play together. There are now several hundred scores which form their repertoire as “West Michigan’s Smallest Handbell Choir”.
Larry founded Choraegus in 1995. Its catalog includes works for six accompanied bells, eight bells (unaccompanied and accompanied), twelve bells, sixteen bells, handbell choir, handbell soloist, and various handbell ensembles, as well as nearly one hundred choral/vocal works. In addition, Choraegus sells the Bass Ringer’s Notebook, perhaps one of the most thoroughgoing volumes on the principles and techniques of bass handbell ringing.
Larry and Carla moved to Michigan in 2016. From there, they write and record their handbell music. They are available to perform their duets at concerts, weddings, corporate events, memorial services, church services, and other events in Michigan and beyond, and can also teach classes and workshops in handbell technique.
United States, Area 5