'Messiah' performance to feature Gail Payne

GIBSON CITY — A professional singer with strong family ties to the Gibson City area will be performing once again as a soloist in this year’s performance of Handel’s “Messiah.”

The performance will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, at the Gibson City Bible Church, located on the west edge of Gibson City along Illinois 47.

Gail Payne, daughter of Don and Beverly Swanstrom, will be performing four soprano solos. She is a professional cabaret singer in Indianapolis, Ind., who also performs classical music. Although her parents now live in Champaign, Payne and her parents maintain deep ties to the area through several generations on both sides of her family.

Other soloists will be Amanda Broaddus, alto; Jason Morgan, tenor; and James Mayer, bass. Broaddus is also a Gibson City native and directs the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley school district’s vocal music program. The two male soloists are from the Champaign-Urbana area, and they were soloists in this year’s spring performance of “The Seven Last Words of Christ.”

This is the 10th anniversary of the chorus being led by Willie Summerville of Urbana. His directing style makes the performance both professional and personal. Summerville holds a master’s degree in music education from the University of Illinois and is well-known as a music educator and choir director in the C-U area.

The chorus features singers from more than eight area towns. Rehearsals continue to be Monday nights, beginning at 7 p.m., at the First Presbyterian Church of Gibson City. A dress rehearsal will be held Dec. 3.

Professional strings, timpani and trumpet from the Champaign-Urbana area will accompany the performance. Beverly Hilmer of Fisher and Bill Ogg of Gibson City will be the pianists.

This year’s performance will be dedicated to Lavina Miller of Gibson City, who sang in every local performance that has been held since 1944 until her death this year at 89 years young.

The annual “Messiah” performance is sponsored by Gibson Area Music Foundation, which accepts donations toward the $4,000-plus cost of each performance. A reception is held after the performance in the church’s front lobby.

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