Volume I Bronze  Edition (1977/2007)

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Volume I

The Allegro Handbell Ensemble's first album features the world premiere release of Donald E. Allured's Suite for Cello and Bells and first recordings of four other original works for handbells. Volume I contains a mix concert and holiday fare, most of which were released on CD and MP3 for the first time in the 2007 Allegro Bronze Edition.

Track Title Time Composer
1. Ukrainian Carol of the Bells 1:13 arr. G.S. Daun
2. Infant Holy, Infant Lowly 1:33 Polish Carol,
arr. D.K. Menard
3. Variations on a French Carol 3:15 Donald E. Allured
4. O Come, All Ye Faithful 1:43 arr. R. Ivey
5. O Little Town of Bethlehem 2:18 arr. R. Ivey
6. Fum, Fum, Fum 1:00 arr. R. Ivey
7. Away in a Manger 2:13 arr. R. Ivey
8. Silent Night, Holy Night 1:43 arr. R. Ivey
9. Jingle Bells 2:48 arr. R. Ivey
10. We Wish You a Merry Christmas 1:10 arr. N. Tufts,
ed. D.K. Menard
11. Carillons* 4:30 Jean Langlias,
arr. G.S. Daun

Suite for Cello and Bells*
John Patterson, cello

Commissioned in loving memory of Dee P. Patterson for the Allegro Handbell Choir.

(7:12) Donald E. Allured
12.     I. Bravura 3:27
13.     II. Capriccio 1:10
14.     III. Finale 2:34
15. Dawn* 2:00 Albert Ream
16. Genesis* 1:51 William A. Payn
17. Prisms* 2:14 William A. Payn
18. Stars and Stripes Forever 3:27 John Phillip Sousa,
arr. O. Mumaw,
ed. D.K. Menard

Elegy* (orig. Tombeau)
Bronze Edition track featuring the 1998 Allegro Handbell Ensemble

Commissioned in memory of Dwight K. Menard by the 1971-1979 Allegro Handbell Ensembles.

5:58 William A. Payn

* An original work for handbells.


The 1977 Allegro Handbell Ensemble
Betty Bogg, Gordon Coates, Karen Deng, Jim Holt, Trey Holt, Ellen King, Ellen McLaughlin, Robin McLaughlin, Roberta Otto, John Patterson, Lolly Patterson, Katie Price, Elizabeth Trask, Nancy Trask

Dwight K. Menard, conductor


Recorded: May 28, 1977
Originally Released: 1977 on 33 RPM Vinyl Record
Bronze Edition Released: 2007 on Compact Disc and MP3


Photography: Bruce Chlevin
Engineers: Mark Rubenstein, Cynthia Cash Rowe
Recorded at: Streeterville Stuidos, Chicago, Illinois
Directed and Produced by: Dwight K. Menard

"...and a special thanks to everyone involved"

Allegro Bronze Edition Credits

Digital Remastering and Post Production: Gerald G. LeCompte

2007 Instrument Photography and Graphic Design: Daniel M. Reck, forzandoArts

Track 19 Musicians: Michael Surratt conducting the 1998 Allegro Handbell Ensemble: J.J. Stocker, Sarah Libby, Laura Dieli, Sarah Libby, Jennifer Kenupher, Marie Becker, Kimberly Lockhart, Jessica Jung, Daniel Reck, Trace Carter, Christopher Lubenow, and Matthew Dickerson

Track 19 Engineer: Robert Atkins, Advanced Audio Technology

This recording is copyright 1977, 1998, and 2007 by the Allegro Handbell Ensemble and the Union Church of Hinsdale, Illinois.

Volume I was the first recording produced by the choir, several years after Mr. Dwight Menard took directorship of the choir in 1971. It is a studio recording, one of just four such recordings produced by the choir. Although the record is titled "Christmas Album," all of side two features non-holiday music. As such, the title was dropped in the Allegro Bronze Edition release. Except for "The Stars and Stripes Forever," each of the works on the second half of the recording is also an original work for handbells, and is likely the world premiere recording of that work.

The second band on the flip side of the LP is the world premiere recording of Donald E. Allured's Suite for Cello and Bells. The suite is one of the first original handbell compositions written for a full five octave ensemble and likely the very first to combine handbells in duet with another concert instrument. It was commissioned in memory of Dee P. Patterson for the Allegro Handbell Choir and is as-yet unpublished because it is generally considered too difficult to be marketable. This 1977 recording of The Suite for Cello and Bells was remastered and released for the first time on compact disc in 2005 on The First 40 Years (Volume XI).

The 2007 Allegro Bronze Edition of Volume I is likely the premiere compact disc release of the first eleven tracks, as well as of Albert Ream's Dawn. As a whole, the recording is a significant representation of early handbell performance in the United States.

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From the Record Jacket

Volume I (1977) Handbell ringing has become increasingly popular with a notable upswing in composition of original works and adaptations of music written for other instruments. more music is being published for these instruments today than ever before, and handbell choirs are enjoying ever more popularity. in spite of this, a program of handbell music presents a unique and exciting musical experience.

The Allegro Handbell Choir was formed about ten years ago and has been a strong part of the music program at Union Church since then. There are currently fourteen members of high school age who have been ringing from one to six years. All of them display strong interest in music and some or potential music majors. Many are honor students. Their outside interests are as varied as they. In addition to participating in the music program at Union Church, the group has performed for a variety of civic, charitable, educational and professional organizations in the area, and has toured the Eastern and Great Lakes States and the Western and Midwestern States. They plan a European tour in June, 1978.

The preparation and choosing of music for this album has been a labor of love for us.

Side one is all music which is suitable for the Christmas season, so that perhaps this volume could be called our 'Christmas Album.' The selections included represent highlights of our Christmas program, which is played many times in December.

The selections on side two are representative of the variety of music which is performed by the Allegro Bell Choir during the rest of the year.

The bell ringers perform with five octaves of Schulmerich bells.

Just as most piano music does not use all the notes on the piano, so most bell music does not require the use of all 61 bells. Exceptions are the ‘Suite for Cello and Bells’ and ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever’, both of which use all bells available.

From the Colorado Springs Sun, June 1976
Headline: Handbell Choir Rings With Artistic Precision

"...a sparkling performance..."

"...delivered with unusual clarity and precision a diverse program..."

"It is a very talented group which can display rich tone color on 61 percussive instruments identical in every respect but for size."

"A successful handbell performance demands the most uncommon attention to counting and cadence. It is essential that very note be in its place, since each is played by a snap of a different wrist. That means anticipating exactly where your note falls in an irregular and changing pattern. The Allegro ringers exhibited this precision but still retained the freshness this medium so uniquely can convey with expressive swells and diminuendos."

"...dazzle listeners..."

"The pure, euphonious tones of English handbells can sometimes make you believe you are listening to a harp, guitar or organ. The blend of bell tones is extremely rich, from the robust 12-pound low ‘C’ to a typewriter bell of a note five octaves up."

"The Allegro Handbell Choir’s performance is a positive statement about the artistic possibilities of this medium."

About the Director

The handbell choir is directed by Dwight K. Menard, a native of Wheeling, West Virginia. Mr. Menard received a BA from West Virginia Wesleyan College, an MM from Northwestern University, and did extensive post-graduate work in organ with Grigg Fountain at Northwestern University. He is presently Organist and Director of Music at the Union Church.

Mr. Menard has 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. He has directed the handbell choirs of Union Church for six years.

Additional Information from the Allegro Bronze Edition: Menard left Union Church in 1978 after transitioning directorship to his successor, Michael Surratt, and moved to New Jersey, where he lost his life to cancer in 1984. Menard was highly regarded by his vocal and instrumental pupils, and members of the 1971-1979 Allegro Handbell Ensembles commissioned William A. Payn of Bucknell University, Pennsylvania, to write a handbell composition in his memory. Payn wrote a beautiful score describing his friend in music. Originally titled Tombeau, but published as Elegy, the recording by the 1998 Allegro Handbell Ensemble is featured as a special track on this Allegro Bronze Edition album.