GIBSON CITY — This year’s “Messiah” performance will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, at the Gibson City Bible Church, located on Gibson City’s west side at 309 N. Illinois 47.
Area residents are encouraged to attend. The performance is given at no charge, and free refreshments are offered after it.
Two new soloists are being featured in Sunday’s performance — Kellie Baier of Gibson City as soprano and Craig Moman as tenor.
Baier is a native of Nebraska and the wife of the Rev. Jeremy Baier of the Pillar & Ground Independent Baptist Church in Gibson City. The couple have four daughters — ages 10, 8, 4 and 3. Baier began composing hymn arrangements in her teens. She has a bachelor of arts degree in secondary education with postgraduate work. Baier took voice lessons and sang with college groups that included a traveling ensemble. She has taught music, given piano and voice lessons, and helped start a school orchestra.
Moman is a graduate student at the University of Illinois who is studying voice performance and literature under Jerold Siena. Originally from Burke, Va., Moman is an experienced performer who had several opera roles while earning his undergraduate degree at Wheaton College. He also has a passion for oratorio, with prior experience performing in Handel’s “Messiah” as the tenor soloist. He has also won several awards while studying voice, including the Stotler Fellowship at the UI, the Clayton Halvorsen Scholarship at Wheaton College, and a first-place win at the Fox Valley Orchestra Competition.
Returning soloists on Sunday will be Amanda Broaddus of Gibson City as contralto and James Mayer of Urbana as baritone.
Broaddus is the vocal music instructor at Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School and GCMS Middle School. She graduated summa cum laude in music education in 2010 from North Central College in Naperville. While at North Central, she performed in the women’s chorale, concert choir, chamber singers and the Opera Workshop. She is the daughter of Rich and Joan Broaddus of rural Saybrook.
Mayer studied voice with University of Illinois Professor Emeritus and Mahomet resident William Miller from 1979 until his death in 1998. Mayer has been a cantor and soloist at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Urbana since 1979, and he has sung with various choirs and area performing groups, including numerous musical theater and light opera productions, over several decades.
Dr. Janet McCumber of Villa Grove is again directing the performances of the choir, soloists and instrumentalists. Several new numbers are part of this year’s program while others have been eliminated to keep performance time the same.
McCumber earned a doctorate in choral conducting at the University of Illinois in 2017. Her music education also includes a master’s degree from Eastern Illinois University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois. She has taught music and directed choruses at the university and high school levels. She also has been a guest conductor and clinician for the Illinois Music Education Association’s district festivals.
Rehearsal and performance piano accompaniment is being provided by Beverly Hilmer of Fisher. Instrumentalists from the Champaign area include a string quartet, trumpeter and timpanist.
The Gibson Area Music Foundation has sponsored the annual local “Messiah” production since 2008. The foundation’s board of directors is grateful for those who have responded to an appeal for funding as well as those who might donate during Sunday’s free-will offering.
Annual expenses exceed $4,500 for the “Messiah” production; plus the organization gives annual summer music camp scholarships to high school musicians, both vocal and instrumental.