The Allegro Handbell Ensemble
The 2014-2015 Allegro Handbell Ensemble
Stephen C Edwards

Stephen C Edwards, M.Mus. Director of Music and Worship, Union Church (2014–present)

Mr. Stephen C Edwards has been teaching and working with choirs and vocal ensembles for over 15 years. He is the founder and Artistic Director of Allegrezza and is the former Artistic Director of Windy City Performing Arts, where he led the Windy City Gay Chorus and Aria. Among his accomplishments are tenures with the Chicago Symphony Chorus, where he earned two Grammy Awards. He was the featured tenor soloist with the Chicago Symphony in Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music. Recently, Mr. Edwards was appointed to the national Board of Directors for GALA Choruses, where he supports and promotes GALA Choruses throughout the United States and abroad.

Before arriving at the Union Church of Hinsdale, Mr. Edwards served at Community United Methodist Church in Naperville, Illinois. He has experience with handbell ensembles, children’s music, choral music, contemporary music, and has been actively involved in all aspects of worship planning. After college, Stephen attended seminary and completed a Master of Music degree in sacred music and vocal performance at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

Directors Emeriti

Elizabeth Jung

Elizabeth Jung Conductor, Union Bells (2015–present)
Director of Handbells, Union Church (2011–2014)
Assistant Director of Handbells, Union Church (2000–2011)

Ms. Elizabeth Jung began her handbell career in the early 1970s as a member of the Allegro Handbell Choir under the direction of Mr. Dwight K. Menard. She continued to perform with the organization for four years until graduating from high-school. After graduating from Allero, she continued to perform with Union Bells, Union Church's handbell ensemble for adults.

Ms. Jung has participated in more than a dozen of Allegro's summer tours and began assisting in administrative and conducting duties in 2000. She became Director in August 2011 and continued her service in that role until 2014.

Now, Ms. Jung is the Conductor of Union Bells, continuing her leadership of that ensemble.

Michael Surratt

Michael Surratt Director of Music and Organist, Union Church (1979–2011)

Mr. Michael Surratt became Director of Music and Organist of Union Church in 1979. A church organist since the age of twelve, he has toured Europe and played organ recitals throughout the Midwest and Southeast, and has been featured in recitals on several Chicago area radio stations.

A native of North Carolina, he attended the North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston Salem; he holds a Bachelor of Music Degree from Oberlin Conservatory, Oberlin, Ohio, and a Master of Music Degree from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. Mr. Surratt has served as an Adjunct Instructor of Organ at Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, Illinois and continues to be active in many professional musical organizations.

He has contributed to and edited Overtones, a journal for handbell musicians, and served on the Communications Committee of the Handbell Musicians of America.

Mr. Surratt conducted the Allegro Handbell Ensemble during its eighth visit to the European continent in summer 2011, before retiring in August after more than three decades of service. His final worship service featured the premiere performance of Psalm 46 by William C. White, commissioned by the Union Church of Hinsdale and dedicated to Mr. Surratt in celebration of his 32 years of service to the church. The performers included the Allegro Handbell Ensemble, the Chancel Choir, the Gargoyle Brass, and Mr. Surratt on organ.

Dwight K. Menard

Dwight K. Menard Director of Music and Organist, Union Church (1971–1979)

The Allegro Handbell Choir was directed by Mr. Dwight K. Menard, a native of Wheeling, West Virginia, from 1971 through 1979. Mr. Menard received a Bachelor of Arts from West Virginia Wesleyan College, a Masters in Music from Northwestern University, and did extensive post-graduate work in organ with Grigg Fountain at Northwestern University. He was Organist and Director of Music at Union Church from 1971 through 1979. Mr. Menard also received many awards, among them the Presser Award of Philadelphia and the Performance Award from the American Guild of Musical Artists of New York. He was selected to appear in the 1969 issue of Outstanding Young Men of America.

Mr. Menard was hailed as an excellent musician, teacher, and man by members of the handbell choir and his other pupils in music, including members of the vocal choirs at Union Church. He left Union Church in 1979 after turning the directorship to Mr. Surratt, and moved to Pennsylvania. Mr. Menard lost his battle with cancer and passed away in 1984. Members of the 1971 through 1979 Allegro Handbell Choirs commissioned Mr. William A. Payn of Bucknell University, Ohio, to write a handbell composition in his memory. Mr. Payn was a friend of Mr. Menard and wrote a beautiful handbell score which musically describes Mr. Menard's integrity and strengths as a musician and his kindness as a member of Union Church. Originally titled Tombeu, Elegy has been performed by the handbell choir every year since and has become a favorite, even to members of the choir now too young to have even have known Mr. Menard.

John Macdonald

John Macdonald Director of Music, Union Church (c.1965–1971)

Mr. John Macdonald inherited a strong musical program when he joined the staff at Union Church in the mid-1960s. Eloise Eddy, his predecessor, left him a fine children’s program as well as an accomplished Chancel Choir.

Conducting the high school and adult vocal choirs, he led his rehearsals—which were absolutely mandatory—in a disciplined way that created near-perfect performances during Sunday morning services. He built the high school vocal choir into an ensemble of some sixty members, which sang weekly at the 9 a.m. service, then held in the sanctuary. This choir had a waiting list of teenagers who wanted to be a part of the program in spite of Mr. Macdonald’s stern leadership. He was concerned that a musical option in the church should be available to them, aware especially that boys’ voices developed later in their teens. With this in mind, Macdonald began the handbell music program in 1967 with the purchase of the first three octaves of Schulmerich handbells.