'Messiah' to feature mix of new, returning favorites

GIBSON CITY — The Gibson Area Music Foundation’s annual performance of Handel’s “Messiah” will be at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, at the Gibson City Bible Church.

This year’s performance will be dedicated to Lavina Miller of Gibson City, who began singing in the local “Messiah” production in 1944 when she was a high school junior. She sang in every local performance held, including last December’s performance. Only her death this year at 89 years old prevented her continuing her “Messiah” tradition.

Mrs. Miller is mother to Shirley  Stoltz of Colfax, and Sharon Nunamaker and Jim Miller of Gibson City.

Celebrating director’s 10th year
This is the 10th anniversary of the chorus being led by Willie Summerville of Urbana. 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.

Summerville directs a four-part vocal chorus that features male and female singers from more than eight area towns.

New and returning favorites
The two female soloists in this year’s performance are returning crowd favorites. The two new male soloists also have outstanding credentials and ties to the local area.

Alto soloist Amanda Broaddus grew up in Gibson City school district and now teaches vocal music and directs the choirs at GCMS High School and GCMS Middle School. While earning a music education degree at North Central College, she performed in the Women’s Chorale, Concert Choir, Chamber Singers and Opera Workshop. Broaddus is the daughter of Richard and Joan Broaddus of rural Saybrook.

Soprano soloist Gail Payne of Indianapolis is a former resident of Gibson City and graduate of its schools. Beginning with direction and encouragement from former music teacher Bill Nichols, Payne developed her musical career to become a solo cabaret singer in 2012. She has performed at many well-known venues in the Indianapolis and St. Louis areas. Payne was accepted to the prestigious, audition-only International Cabaret Conference at Yale University in 2013, as one of 20 artists from four countries studying the art of cabaret with award-winning performers, composers and musicians. She was also invited to study in the acclaimed St. Louis Cabaret Conference in 2015 and 2016. Payne is the daughter of former Gibson City residents Don and Beverly Swanstrom, who now live in Champaign.

Jason Morgan of Savoy is this year’s tenor soloist. He has been an active performer and voice teacher in Central Illinois since 2005, following a decade of singing opera and oratorio in New York City. His first Gibson City performance was in the Gibson Area Music Foundation’s spring presentation of “The Seven Last Words of Christ.” Morgan has been on the vocal faculty of Milliken University and a vocal instructor at Parkland College. He has performed in a variety of musical productions in the area and now teaches privately with wife Nicole at Morgan Voice Studio in Savoy. Among his former students is Gibson City native Patrick Volker, who is unable to perform in this year’s Messiah due to his move to the Boston area.

The baritone solos will be sung by Jim Mayer of Urbana. He has sung with various choirs and performing groups in the area, including the 2016 Gibson City performance of “The Seven Last Words of Christ.” He was a student of William Miller, a professor emeritus of the University of Illinois, until Miller’s death in 1998, and he currently studies with Richard Hertel. Mayer has served as cantor and soloist at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Urbana since 1979. In addition to singing, he is a vocational counselor with the Rural Champaign County Special Education Cooperative.

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 serve as pianists.

There is no charge for the event, but a free-will offering is taken toward the $4,000-plus cost of each year’s performance. During the performance, the audience is invited by tradition to join in singing “The Hallelujah Chorus” and is also invited to a community reception in the church’s front lobby that concludes the afternoon.


The Paxton Record embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. we reserve the right to remove any comment at its discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
monica123 wrote on December 09, 2016 at 5:12 am
Profile Picture

Very good. you are the winner. Do not forget update new information regularly. thank ! scalp psoriasis

Alexandr1985 wrote on December 29, 2016 at 3:12 pm

I was looking forward to this event, for me it is more than to lose their virginity, come to me because my asshole can not satisfy me, and my aching hole from dust and to please remove the "my" apartment  free russian brides

Leighans wrote on January 31, 2017 at 12:01 am

Having such a degree is something that not everyone can make it up for. Congratulations about it.

Greetings, get followers.

online sexting wrote on March 13, 2017 at 6:03 am

Great place for chat. chatsfinder.com