Our Director

william l. wittman - director

Mr. William Wittman is excited and grateful to be the new Artistic Director of the Lancaster Handbell Ensemble. He is a Lancaster native and a graduate of Lancaster High School, Ohio University (BFA), Wright State University (MM), and finished his doctoral studies coursework in Educational Leadership at Ohio University. He studied conducting with Dr. Myron Welch (Director of Bands, Emeritus, University of Iowa). Bill was the recipient of the Wright State University School of Music’s Distinguished Alumni Award, 2002. 

40-Years of Music Dedication

Bill began his 40+-year career in music as Director of Bands and Coordinator of Art and Music Programs for Lancaster City Schools, creating a band program of renown, performing in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and Disney World within his first few years with the district. While at LCS, his Symphonic Band received seven consecutive District and State Superior Ratings in Class A and AA, while his Marching Band received seven consecutive Superior ratings at State Marching Band Finals. As part of his music education program at Lancaster, he included guest soloists and conductors during rehearsals and performances including Dr. Alfred Reed, Dr. Myron Welch, Dr. Tim Swinehart, Mr. Clark Haines, Mr. Buddy Laws, Mr. Ernest Bastin, and Ms. Laura Lineberger.

To widen his influence in Music Education Bill then became the Director of Fine Arts Education for Newark City Schools in Newark, Ohio, leading the arts department and expanding programs. The leadership qualities he forged during those years led him to become a school superintendent for Hamilton Local Schools in Columbus, ensuring a wing of a new building reflected a love of the arts, and Tri-County Career Center in Nelsonville.

Finally, during his first year of retirement from education, Bill served as the Band Director at Manchester Local Schools, closing his years in education the way he began: teaching children to find the music within.

Currently in his retirement, Bill is the Director of Business and Trade Show Operations for the Ohio Music Education Association (OMEA), supporting music education endeavors on the state level. He enjoys connecting with different aspects of and a variety of people who are the current custodians of music education.

Community Involvement

Throughout his career in music education, Bill continually supported community-and state-level music programs. While in Newark, he served as the Director of The Jubilate Ringers at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church for 25 years, retiring in 2015.The Jubilate Ringers performed programs handbell concert pieces as well as recognizable sacred selections, performing at various venues throughout the Newark Area and beyond. The Jubilate Ringers performed two tours to Germany and three tours to “sister churches” in Michigan. In 2013, Jesus Christ is Risen Today, arranged by Cynthia Dobrinski was commissioned by St. Paul’s Lutheran Church to commemorate 25 years of Handbell Ministry.

Bill’s other community music involvement includes serving the OMEA as the State Marching Band Finals Chair and an adjudicator for over 35 years. He also assisted the Columbus Symphony Orchestra in the selection of Music Educator of the Year Awards, as well as reviews applicants for music scholarships for the Fairfield Foundation. He has been a Guest Lecturer at Capital University, Wright State University and Ohio University on various music related topics. His latest commitment is serving as a board member of the LancasterChorale and is a member of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church.

Bill lives in Logan and feels blessed to have his wife, Suzanne, and children, Chris Wittman, Maddie Wittman, Chris Logan, Kayleigh Logan, Daughter-in-Law, Melanie Wittman, and grandchildren, Jacob and Kaitlyn. All family members are musically inclined and are pleased to support Bill in his musical endeavors.

William L. Wittman

leta cook - director emeritus

Leta was the founder of LHE in March of 2011 and was the Director of First Presbyterian's Celebration Ringers (LHE's home base).  She retired from the Celebration Ringers and continued as the director of LHE until 2022 after our Christmas/Winter concert.

Leta Cook has a B.A. in Music Ed with Choral Directing emphasis from Manchester College, and has done graduate studies at Indiana University, Methesco, and Trinity Lutheran Seminary. 

Her handbell experience began 33  years ago, when she was invited to ring in a Bell Directors’ choir in Ft. Wayne, IN. She’s been directing handbell choirs for 31 years.

Over the years, she has had the opportunity to take extended classes with Robert Ivey and William Griffin, and rung under the direction of countless nationally known handbell composers and clinicians at Area V AGEHR events.

Leta earned her AGEHR Director’s certificate at the National Handbell Director’s Symposium in Hartford CT in 2003. Since then she’s attended  a number of National AGEHR Symposiums where the potential of an area community handbell choir began to take shape.

She served on the AGEHR Area V Board, and was recently privileged to have an original handbell piece commissioned in her honor, by the Celebration Ringers of First Presbyterian. The piece, “Endless Song” was directed by its composer, Tim Waugh.