Music Ministry Staff

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Music Ministry Staff2022-04-27T16:30:31-05:00

Lisa Bond

Minister of Music

Lisa Bond has passionately served in church music and music education for over thirty years. In 1996, while teaching music in North Shore area schools, Lisa joined Kenilworth Union Church as the part-time Director of Children’s and Bell Choirs. Under her innovative leadership, the Church’s Music Ministry program quickly flourished to include junior high and high school choirs. Lisa studied choral conducting, piano, and music education, earning a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University, and a Master of Music degree from DePaul University. She frequently attends national sacred music conferences at Montreat and St Olaf Colleges, seeking out the expertise of national leaders in church music. She lives in Hoffman Estates with her supportive husband Andy and two musical children, singer and guitarist Sarah, and singer and saxophonist Nicholas.

Alyssa Bennett

Assistant Director of Choirs, Section Leader, and Soloist

Alyssa Bennett has served as a section leader and soloist with the Chancel Choir at Kenilworth Union Church since 2001, and Assistant Director of Choirs since May 2015. She received her BA in Music at Luther College and her MM in Voice and Opera at Northwestern University. She has enjoyed a varied performing career in Chicago, and as cultural emissary for US embassies and consulates in eleven countries in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Alyssa currently teaches classical voice at Lake Forest College and The Chicago Academy for the Arts, and performs as chorus member and soloist with Music of the Baroque and the Grant Park Music Festival.

Eun Joo Ju

Organist

Eun Joo received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Hansei University in South Korea, as well as an additional Master of Music from Manhattan School of Music in New York. In 2016, she earned a Doctorate of Musical Arts in organ performance and literature from the University of Illinois. Eun Joo Ju has over 30 years of experience as organist for many different denominations, and is also the afternoon organist at Elliott Chapel of Presbyterian Homes in Evanston. She is thrilled to be a part of our church’s music ministry team. Eun Joo lives in Buffalo Grove with her husband and two children.

Ryan Belongie

Assistant Director of Rejoice and Bell Choirs, Section Leader, and Soloist

Ryan Belongie has served as a section leader and soloist with the Chancel Choir at Kenilworth Union Church since 2017, and Assistant Director of Children’s and Bell Choirs since 2019.  He received his BMus in Voice Performance and Music Theater Certificate at Northwestern University.  He is a graduate of the Merola Opera Program and Adler Fellowship at San Francisco Opera and has appeared as a soloist with opera companies and orchestras throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, including locally with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Opera Theater, Music of the Baroque, and the Grant Park Music Festival.  Ryan teaches voice at New Trier as well as an active private studio.

Miya Higashiyama

Section Leader and Soloist

Miya Higashiyama has been singing at Kenilworth Union Church since June 2019 and is currently attending the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University (’22) where she is receiving her Master of Music degree under the tutelage of Theresa Brancaccio. Originally from Seattle, Washington she holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Pacific Lutheran University. She has performed a wide variety of opera roles in the Pacific Northwest, at Northwestern Opera Theatre and beyond, and has placed nationally and regionally in the National Association for Teachers of Singing Competitions several years in a row. She also sings with Grant Park Chorus as a supplemental chorus alto, and is currently singing and teaching in Evanston. Miya has also participated in masterclasses with Joyce DiDonato (streamed worldwide on Youtube and Medici.tv), Stephanie Blythe, and Gil Kalish.

Kelsey Sandefur

Section Leader and Soloist

Kelsey Sandefur, soprano, is at the launching point of an exciting career. She has been a soprano section leader and soloist with the Chancel Choir at Kenilworth Union Church since September of 2019. A 2017 graduate of the Ball State University’s Vocal Performance program, Miss Sandefur is currently pursuing her Master of Music degree in Voice and Opera Performance at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music. Miss Sandefur has performed roles such as Rosalinde (Die Fledermaus), Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), The Witch (Hansel and Gretel), and both Marcellina and Barbarina (Le nozze di Figaro). A versatile artist, Miss Sandefur has performed in numerous young artist programs, recitals, opera galas, and concerts throughout America and Italy.

Jonathan Wilson

Section Leader and Soloist

Jonathan Wilson has served as the baritone section leader with the Chancel Choir at Kenilworth Union Church since 2015. Jonathan frequently performs with many Chicago opera, choral, and theater companies across a wide range of musical styles including Renaissance polyphony, Classical and Romantic opera and choral masterworks, golden age musical theater, and contemporary opera and art song.  He currently sings with the Lyric Opera Chorus, the Chicago Symphony Chorus, and the Grant Park Festival Chorus. Jonathan is also passionate about math and science, greatly admiring the creative overlap between the scientific and musical arts. He holds degrees in physics, mathematics, and electromagnetics from the Universities of Illinois and Michigan.