'Messiah' to be performed Dec. 2 in Gibson City

GIBSON CITY — Local soloists will be featured at this year’s performance of Handel’s “Messiah” sponsored by the Gibson Area Music Foundation.

For the first time in many years, area vocalists will perform the demanding solos between choral selections. The entire performance will be given at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, at the Gibson City Bible Church.

Soloists will be Rick Rhodes (bass) and Larry Knox (tenor), both of Dewey; Andrea Dunahee of Gibson City and Allison Arends of Melvin (sopranos); and Stephanie Swearingen of Melvin (alto).

A chorus of area choral singers has been practicing since Oct. 29 with well-known choral director Willie Summerville of Urbana.

An ensemble of musicians from the Champaign-Urbana area will again provide string, trumpet and tympani accompaniment for the performance with Bill Ogg of Gibson City as pianist. 

This year’s performance will honor long-time music and civic supporter Dr. Paul Sunderland, who stepped down in August this year as chairperson of the Gibson Area Music Foundation, which he helped to found.

Sunderland has been involved since 1948 with local “Messiah” performances and was a tenor soloist in earlier years.

Bill Ogg and Galen Litwiller now co-chair the music foundation. Other officers are Dennis Fisher, vice-chairperson; Val Hunt, secretary; and Doug Hager, treasurer. Other board members are Zack Babb, Jan Peterson, Jean Noellsch and Sunderland

Those interested in supporting the “Messiah” or other foundation-sponsored events may send donations to Hager by mail at: P.O. Box 152, Gibson City, IL 60936-0152. Donors of $10 or more will be listed in the event program.

In addition, during the performance’s Pastoral Symphony, a free-will donation will be taken to defray the approximately $4,500 annual cost of the performance.

To expand the opportunities for local musical performances, foundation board members voted at their Nov. 8 quarterly meeting to sponsor a performance of the “Seven Last Words of Christ” on March 17, 2013.

The group’s third musical feature will be the annual Hymn Festival, slated for Aug. 4, 2013.

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