Friday July 21, 2017

28th Annual “Community MESSIAH Performance”


The Grand Blanc Arts Council’s 28th Annual “Community MESSIAH Performance” will be presented at First Congregational United Church of Christ – 6494 S. Belsay Road (corner of Perry and Belsay Rds.) on November 22, at 4:30 p.m.  The performance is open to all.  There is no charge for this exciting performance but a free-will donation will be gratefully accepted at the door.  MESSIAH, composed by George F. Händel, tells the story of MESSIAH in song.

This year's chorus is comprised of volunteer singers - both adult and high school students from the area.  The guest director, Dr. Matthew J. Packer, is director of choral activities at Mott Community College and Mott Middle College.  He is also music director of Flint Male Chorus and Swartz Creek Center Stage Community Theater. 

Accompanying this year’s performance is a six-member chamber orchestra. Soloists for this year’s performance are (in alphabetical order): Shelly Gillett-Behrens – Soprano; Kasie Johnson – Mezzo-Soprano; Aaron David Bush McCoy-Jacob – Tenor; Robert Nickora – Tenor; James E. Parks – Bass; Frank E. Pitts – Bass-Baritone; Terrence Stewart – Baritone; and Sarah Stockton – Soprano.  Come and enjoy this spectacular event as you prepare for the upcoming holiday season.



Rev. Dr. Matthew J. Packer – Director,  has been a church musician since 1983. He received his BME in 1987 and MM in 1995 from Central Michigan University, studying choral conducting with Dr. Nina Nash Robertson, composition with Dr. David Gillingham, voice with Timothy Caldwell and Dr. Jeff Foote, piano with Dr. Forrest Robinson and organ with Dr. Steven Egler. Matt received his Doctor of Worship Studies degree in 2004 from the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies. He completed his Deacon Studies at the Methodist Theological School of Ohio and is a Deacon in the United Methodist Church, currently serving at Flushing UMC as adult choir and handbell director. Matt is the choral director at Mott Community College, Mott Middle College and the Flint Male Chorus. He is Music Director for Swartz Creek Center Stage Community Theater and accompanies the choirs at Swartz Creek High School. Matt is happily married to Kristi and is proud father and stepfather to Janelle, Ellie, Abbie, Matthew and Nate. He is particularly passionate about bringing people together to make music in community.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Shelly Gillett-Behrens – Soprano  Some of Ms. Gillett-Behrens  credits include: Kearsley Park Players Twelfth Night, Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, and Saint-Saëns’Christmas Oratorio.  Shelly has performed at many venues in and out of Michigan.  She has sung in Gilbert and Sullivan productions at MSU, Virginia Tech, and Michigan Opera Theatre’s (MOT) Community Programs Players.  As a member of the MOT chorus, Gillet-Behrens performed in Puccini’s La Bohème,  Bizet’s Carmen, and sang at the Inaugural Gala of the New Detroit Opera House.  She has also served as MOT’s Assistant Director of Marketing.  Moreover, Shelly has been a music director at Linden High School, Lake Fenton High School, Fenton Village Players, and Kidz Theatre Kompany.  She is currently the owner and voice teacher at G. B. Music Studio of Linden.  Shelly and her husband have two musical children – a daughter at NMU and a son at Linden High School. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Kasie Johnson - Mezzo-Soprano, earned a Bachelor in Music Education from Central Michigan University in 2008.  After graduation, Johnson served as director of vocal music at Mt. Morris High School for three years.  Kasie has studied voice privately at both Flint Institute of Music and Central Michigan University.  Her performance credits include Orlofsky in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus.  Johnson was also very involved in Flint's Vertigo Theatrics, with roles including Sally Bowles in Kander’s Cabaret and Delores Dante and Babe Secoli in Schwartz’s Working.  This May, Ms. Johnson graduated from Michigan State University with a Masters Degree in Social Work and is currently a school social worker for Kearsley Community Schools. Johnson is also the music director here at First Congregational.  Kasie resides in Grand Blanc with her husband, Ryan, and their three-year-old son,Brennan.
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Aaron David Bush McCoy-Jacob – Tenor, is a native of Burton and has been involved in music since age six when he began playing violin to emulate his grandfather.  Then at FIM, Aaron discovered he could sing and began studying voice with Sylvia Pittman. Aaron attended Central Michigan University and earned a B.A. in vocal performance.  At CMU, McCoy-Jacob studied voice with Dr. Timothy Caldwell and is currently studying voice with Nada Radakovich.  Some of McCoy-Jacob’s performance credits include: performances with Flint Symphony, International Youth Orchestra, and Detroit Symphony.   Some of the many roles Aaron has sung include the title role in the musical Bye Bye Birdie, Don Jose in Bizet’s Carmen, and Kasper in Menotti’s Amal and the Night Visitors.  He is a recipient of both a St. Cecelia Scholarship and the Piarian Scholarship and is proud to say he shares an Emmy and the Aurora Award with The Flint Symphony and the Jubilee Chorale. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Robert Nickora – Tenor, first debuted as a soloist in 1961 with the Flint
Symphony Orchestra in Händel’s Messiah.  Since then, he has been performing as a soloist throughout Michigan. He has studied voice with many noted voice teachers such as Dr. Delbert Simon,  and has served on the music staff of both Kirk in the Hills, Bloomfield Hills, and First Presbyterian Church, Birmingham.  A small sample of Mr. Nickora’s solo include: J. S. Bach’s St. John Passion, Händel’s Messiah, and Mozart’s Requiem.  Robert has sung with many leading professional choral groups around the country.  During his years with the DSO, Nickora was part of the concert series at both Orchestra Hall and Meadowbrook Music Festival. Robert taught English for Lapeer Community Schools and after retiring, worked for Oakland University.  Another “hat” Nickora has worn is that of producer, advisor, compiler, and writer for record companies in Great Britain, the U.S., and Australia.  He and his wife Sandra are active members of First Baptist Church, Lapeer. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

James E. Parks - Bass, is a native of Detroit and attended the University of Michigan’s School of Music from 1970-73 where he studied both vocal performance and education.  After leaving Ann Arbor, he performed in many jazz clubs and also sang with both 40’s bands and blues bands across the country.  Mr. Parks has sung with the Michigan Opera Chorus and was in the cast of the Michigan Lyric Opera Company’s production of Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors.   James states that his most classical training came from studying with Brazeal W. Dennard and singing in the renowned Detroit-based Brazeal Dennard Choral.   Parks joined the Dennard Choral in 1972 and continued as the bass soloist for nearly forty years.  While a member of the Choral, Parks sang and soloed in countless productions. Mr. Parks relocated to Otisville in January 2010, when he retired from The Chrysler Corporation.  He currently sings with the Flint Festival Chorus and the Carolyn Mawby Chorale.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Frank E. Pitts - Bass-Baritone, is a Michigan native and has preformed as both a pianist and singer in the United States and Canada. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in vocal performance from Harding University and has done graduate work at Oakland University.  Currently, Mr. Pitts is on the music faculty of Rochester College and UM-Flint.  He also serves as music director of several area theatre companies.  In 1996-1998, he was an apprentice with Michigan Opera Theatre where he performed in main stage productions of Verdi’s La Traviata, Richard Strauss’ Salome, Mozart’s
Le Nozze di Figaro, and Puccini’s La Bohème.  Pitts’ most recent performance was the role of Pooh-Bah in The Kearsley Park Players’ production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado.  Frank  currently studies voice with Nada Radakovich and has been a featured soloist with Detroit Wind Ensemble, Rochester Symphony, and the International Symphony of Windsor to name a few. Frank and his wife, Terry, reside in Flint.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Terrence Stewart – Baritone,  is a Philadelphia area native, Mr. Stewart, since moving to our area, has sung with the Carolyn Mawby Chorale, Flint Festival Chorus, and in several Michigan Opera Theatre productions. His most recent performances were in Puccini’s Turandot and Verdi’s Aida.  In 2011 and 2012, Stewart performed the role of  King Melchoir in Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors with Flint Light Opera.  Mr. Stewart is an associate sociology professor at Mott Community College and thoroughly enjoys discussing sociology with his students. Terrence is the proud husband of Luciana and an equally proud father of three-year old Zion..  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sarah Stockton – Soprano,  is a magna cum laude graduate of Central Michigan University where she received her Bachelors of Music Education, studying voice with Mary Stewert-Kiesgen and conducting with Dr. Nina Nash-Robertson.  She is also a 2010 graduate of Michigan State University, where she received her Masters degree in Choral Conducting, under the guidance of Dr. David Rayl and Dr. Jonathon Reed.  Moreover, Sarah has studied voice with Molly Fillmore, Michigan State professor and international dramatic soprano. Additional post-graduate coursework has been completed from St. John's University, the University of Colorado, and Grand Valley State University. Sarah is both the vocal music director at Grand Blanc High School and Grand Blanc West Middle School, as well as the artistic director for the New Century Chorale.  She is an active soprano soloist in the greater Grand Blanc area where she lives with her husband Josh and son Everett. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  





Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 November 2015 20:25