‘Messiah’ performance in Gibson to be dedicated to Dr. Paul Sunderland

GIBSON CITY — The annual performance of Handel’s “Messiah” in Gibson City this Sunday will be dedicated to Dr. Paul Sunderland, a co-founder of the Gibson Area Music Foundation, which now sponsors the event.

The performance will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, at the Gibson City Bible Church, located on Illinois 47 on Gibson City’s west side.

Sunderland has been involved with local “Messiah” performances since 1948 and was a tenor soloist in earlier years. In August, he stepped down as chairperson of the music foundation. He has served in that capacity since co-founding the organization in 2005.

Both personally and professionally, Sunderland has long served area communities in many capacities with time and financial support. Many area residents may remember him as a family practice physician in Gibson City and Fisher for 47 years, having retired from active practice in 1994.

Local soloists to be featured
Another feature of Sunday’s performance is that for the first time in many years, area vocalists will perform the vocal solos.

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).

Professor Tito Carrillo of the University of Illinois will provide trumpet solos, and  Bill Ogg of Gibson City will serve as pianist.

An ensemble of musicians from the Champaign-Urbana area will provide string and tympani accompaniment. 

These musicians and a chorus of area singers will be under the direction of well-known music director Willie Summerville of Urbana.

Foundation support and upcoming dates
Bill Ogg and Galen Litwiller now co-chair the foundation. Other officers are Dennis Fisher, vice-chairperson; Val Hunt, secretary; and Doug Hager, treasurer.

Additional board members are Zack Babb, Jan Peterson, Jean Noellsch, and Dr. Sunderland

Those interested in supporting the Messiah or other foundation-sponsored events may send donations to Hager by mail at PO Box 152, Gibson City, IL 60936-0152.

Donors of $10 or more will be listed in the event program.

To expand the opportunities for local quality musical performances, foundation board members will sponsor a performance of the Seven Last Words of Christ on March 17, 2013.

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

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