"What a genuine joy it was for Silver Lake College to host the Milwaukee Handbell Ensemble as part of our 2016-2017 Artist Music Series. Our audience was completely captivated by the incredible musicianship, precision and artistry of this group and left many asking when they’d be back. We were truly honored to have Dr. John Behnke and his group of musicians share a repertoire that drew from Classical, pop, sacred and holiday selections. Our students, faculty, staff and community members have been talking about it for weeks and were thrilled to be in the audience…many stating, 'It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, I’m so glad I came!'."
"Merry Christmas! I want to share the joy your bell concert brought my dad. I saw him for our family gathering on Christmas Eve. He would not stop talking to everyone about how the 'bell show' he went to brought a special way to get him in the Christmas spirit. 'You should see what they can do with these bells’! 'It sounds like what I envision angels sound like when they are having fun!' 'I want to start every Christmas season going to the bell show!' This from a man who really never enjoyed Christmas in my childhood. Thank you and the bell choir for bringing so much joy to my dad!!"
~ By daughter of a man who attended our Christmas concert December 2021.
"The Milwaukee Handbell Ensemble, led by director John Behnke for one number, performed several times, including an unconducted, memorized number from the lip of the stage. They played with spirit, precision, and the almost balletic grace the bells require."
~ By Elaine Schmidt, Special to the Journal Sentinel, following our performance with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at their Holiday Pops concert. (2015) ** Read full article here. **
"Thank you all for your performances of "Peace" this December, in particular the one at Concordia last week! My son is still talking about the concert, and has been setting up his set of toy handbells downstairs to recreate the concert. It is truly an honor to have the Milwaukee Handbell Ensemble debut his lullaby, and it will always be an enjoyable memory for our family! Thanks!
~Joshua Kramer, composer of "Peace", following our performance with the Milwaukee Children's Chorus at our first annual Christmas concert entitled "Christmas Bells with the Voices of Children". (2014)
"Equally in sync was the next piece on the program, Cathy Mocklebust’s “Towers.” Composed in 2000, the piece is written for a handbell choir but intended to replicate the ringing of church bells. Milwaukee Handbell Ensemble was up to the task, filling the cathedral with a delightful, pristine timbre. While the low tones of the bass bells served as a foundation, the ensemble’s upper bells played a descending stepwise pattern — ironically creating a feeling of climbing upwards like in a tower."
~Wisconsin Gazette, following our performance with Present Music for their Thanksgiving Concert. (2014)
"It was a wonderful experience working with you and your ensemble! I would certainly love to work with you anytime, anywhere! Your group's energy was infectious with the audience and added so much to the show! Please thank them all for me and I wish you a fantastic Holiday season! All the best!
~Stuart Chaeftz, director, following our performance with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra for the Holiday Pops Concert. (2013)
"The Milwaukee Handbell Ensemble joined the orchestra on several numbers, playing with precision and adding a glowing sound to the orchestral texture. The ensemble took a turn in the spotlight, standing on the lip of the stage, with a polished, delightful rendition of "Good King Wenceslas".
~ Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, following our performance with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and conductor Stuart Chafetz for the Holiday Pops concert. (2013)
"Milwaukee Handbell Ensemble performed a couple of cleanly executed numbers under the baton of Suzanne Hibbard, creating a captivating sort of choreography as they wielded the bells. They joined the orchestra as well, adding a slivery shimmer to the choral/orchestral texture."
~ Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, following our performance with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and conductor Doc Severinsen for the Holiday Pops concert. (2012)
"We are not usually great devotees of handbell groups because many that we have heard leave something to be desired. However, LAST NIGHT WAS THE EXCEPTION. We both enjoyed the concert so much and left wanting for more! Your group is quite extraordinary and what a privilege for us to have it here at Alexian last night."
"I heard more than my usual number of praises for the choice of program last night. Handbells were a success! I never know who I am going to appeal to when Jody and I select an idea for our holiday dinner program. The handbells cut across age and interest lines. We all had fun participating. Company holiday parties might become a whole new line of entertainment for the MHE."