The Grand Blanc Arts Council Presents:
The Annual Community Messiah Performance
A wonderful way to begin your Christmas season, this event has become a tradition for many families in our community.
The Grand Blanc Arts Council Commmunity Chorus
-Directed by Lavonne Bomeli
The Grand Blanc Arts Council presents the annual “Community MESSIAH Performance" each November. This year’s event will be held in the sanctuary of Holy Family Catholic Church in Grand Blanc at 4:00 p.m on Sunday, November 20th, 2016. Our guest conductor will be Dr. Simon Lee, Director of Music Activities at both Holy Family Catholic Church and Holy Family Catholic School. A volunteer community choir composed of people who enjoy singing and wish to participate will perform MESSIAH. More information about how you can become a member of the choir is posted on our website.
The Community MESSIAH performance was initiated in 1988 by Grand Blanc community members Dave and Betty Ryan and Frank Thomas and has been part of the community performance calendar since that time. MESSIAH is an oratorio composed by George Frideric Händel in 1720. Since it was first performed in Dublin, Ireland, it has been a staple in the repertory for choirs around the world.
The purpose of the Grand Blanc "Community Messiah Performance" is to nurture and expand the appreciation of this renowned music work for the broad spectrum of community members who participate in the concert. Also, the performance provides an opportunity for people of all ages, ethnicities, religions, and genders in Genesee and surrounding counties to participate by singing in, or listening to, the selection from MESSIAH. All are welcome. There is no admission, but there will be a freewill offering at the door.
The Community Messiah Performance is sponsored by the Grand Blanc Arts Council.
Mary Nieuwenhuis has been named guest director for the Grand Blanc Arts Councils’ 30th annual Community MESSIAH Performance, to be held at Holy Family Catholic Church; 11824 S. Saginaw Street in Grand Blanc. The date is Sunday November 19, and the time is 4:00 p.m.
The Grand Blanc Arts Council will be presenting the 30th Annual “Grand Blanc Community Messiah Performance” this coming November 19, with Mary Nieuwenhuis as guest music director. In preparation for the event, auditions for soloists will be held on Sunday June 4, from 2:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. in the sanctuary of Holy Family Catholic Church – Grand Blanc; 11824 S. Saginaw Street. Holy Family will also be the site for all rehearsals as well as the November 19, performance.
Pictured here is Dr. B. Simon Lee and the accompanist, Dr. Sia Lee at the first rehearsal for the GBAC community chorus . They are preparing for the 29th annual "Community MESSIAH Performance".
The chorus has one more rehearsal, Sunday November 13, before the performance on Sunday November 20. The chorus will number approximately 75 community members - ages 16 - 80+ and come from the greater Genesee County and beyond.
Meet Frank Walker
Frank is responsible for the first Community Sing of Händel’s “Messiah” in 1988 and then became and remained the man behind all subsequent performances until 2012. When asked what gave Frank the idea, he said he saw a 1987 “Messiah” sing-a-long performance televised from San Francisco on PBS and thought, Grand Blanc should have something like that! So, after thinking about it, he contacted the then Grand Blanc High School band director, Dave Ryan and Dave’s wife Betty, who was a local soprano soloist. Together, the three solicited help from another musician friend, Mary McClelland. Next came the need for a performance site and Father James R. Swiat volunteered Holy Family. The first Grand Blanc “Community Sing” occurred on Sunday, December 11, 1988 at 4:00 p.m. in the sanctuary of Holy Family Catholic Church. Mary McClellan was music director, Jeanne Wagner was the organist, and the rest is history.
Frank was born in Pennsylvania and came to Flint in 1950 to attend GMI – now Kettering University. He has sung in the choirs at Flint’s First Presbyterian Church, Grand Blanc’s Kirkridge Presbyterian Church, and was an eight-year member of the Michigan-Ohio Concert Choir under the direction of Thurlo Spurr. He is married to his wife Sallie of 56 years and they have two children, Kim and Tim, and eleven grandchildren.
We thank Frank Walker for his great vision and dedication to his dream. This event has continued over the years because of Frank’s willingness to work and encourage other people to help: from his work place in Imlay City to his church, Kirkridge Presbyterian here in Grand Blanc. He is also responsible for finding sponsors: from the Grand Blanc Arts Council to the Grand Blanc Foundation to support the event as it grew from a relatively small group of singers and their friends, relatives, and community members into a large group of singers and many more friends, relatives, and community members.
Since 2012, Lavonne C. Bomeli has chaired the event. Although there have been some changes, elements of Frank’s original concept are still included. The performance moves from one Grand Blanc church to another each year, a guest director from the area is invited to head the now rehearsals and the performance, the community is invited to become members in the chorus, and area soloists are invited to audition to perform the arias and recitatives. One of the most important changes is the addition of two rehearsals for the community chorus. At these rehearsals, the chorus members can become familiar with the directing style of the guest conductor and either learn or refresh their knowledge of each of the choruses to be sung. However, this event still remains “Frank Walker’s Vision.” And, each year more and more people from not only the Grand Blanc community but communities from the greater area around Grand Blanc are coming to sing, listen, and enjoy what started in 1988.
YEARS OF MESSIAH IN GRAND BLANC: 1988-2016
The Messiah in Grand Blanc has been a beautiful holiday tradition in the community since 1988. The following is a list of the Directors, the Accompaniment, and Soloists throughout the years.
1988 Director: Mary McClellan Accompaniment: Jeanne Wagner
Soloists: Nancy Stilwill, Michele Kotzian, Colleen Stafford, Phil Guerra, Michael Goetz
1989 Director: Colleen Stafford Accompaniment: Lavonne Bomeli
Soloists: Nancy Stilwill, Michele Kotzlian, Mary McClellan, John Gorman, Don Tucker
1990 Director: Carolyn Mawby Accompaniment: Clifford Wilkins
Soloists: Nancy Stilwill, Michele Kotzian, Jean O’Brien, Timothy O’Brien, Michael Goetz
1991 Director: Carolyn Mawby Accompaniment: Kathryn Goguen
Soloists: Nancy Stilwill, Michele Kotzian, Rachel Haviland, Phil Guerra, Michael Goetz
1992 Director: Bonnie Young Accompaniment: Jan Riccinto
Soloists: Moria O’Brien, Michele Kotzian, Rachel Haviland, Phil Guerra, Michael Goetz
1993 Director: Bonnie Young Accompaniment: Nick Palmer
Soloists: Nancy Stilwill, Roberta Goergen, Moria O’Brien, Rachel Haviland, Daniel Schuetz, Isaac Grier
1994 Director: Bruce Stevenson Accompaniment: Nick Palmer
Soloists: Nancy Stilwill, Roberta Goergen, Martha Brewer, Robbie Grier, Steven Easterling, Isaac Grier
1995 Director: Lavonne Bomeli Accompaniment: Walter Gresens
Soloists: Kathleen Sheehy, Nancy Stilwill, Rachel Haviland, Steven Easterling, Michael Goetz
1996 Director: Lavonne Bomeli Accompaniment: Walter Gresens
Soloists: Nancy Stilwill, Martha Brewer, Wynne Wood, Phil Guerra, Michael Goetz
1997 Director: Colleen Johnson Accompaniment: Nick Palmer
Soloists: Kim Heath Streby, Wynne Wood, Steven Easterling, Charles Nelson
1998 Director: Colleen Johnson Accompaniment: George Krawczyk
Soloists: Nancy Stilwill, Marcia Veith, Wynne Wood, Robert Nickora, Robert Branch
1999 Director: Walter Gresens Accompaniment: Walter Gresens
Soloists: Nancy Stilwill, Sylvia Pitman, Amanda Merrow, Richard Harvey, Wynne Wood, Robert Nickora, Robert Branch
2000 Director: Gene Coburn Accompaniment: Robert Ruddy
Soloists: Roberta Goergen, Wynne Wood, Dan Evans, Ivan Griffin
2001 Director: Walter Gresens Accompaniment: Walter Gresens
Soloists: Katie O’Brien, Amber Merrow, Amanda Merrow, Richard Harvey, Tim O’Brien, Andrew Catton
2002 Director: Bomeli/Coburn Accompaniment: Quincy Dobbs
Soloists: Nancy Dahle, Martha Brewer, Joan Travis, Johnson/McClellan, Tim O’Brien, Neal Fatheree
2003 Director: Gene Coburn Accompaniment: Quincy Dobbs
Soloists: Katie O’Brien, Martha Brewer, Jean O’Brien, Wynne Wood, Tim O’Brien, Darren Herring
2004 Director: Dr. Carl Byerly Accompaniment: Marlene Weston
Soloists: Sylvia Pittman, Nancy Dahle, Wynne Wood, Dan Evans, Darren Harring
2005 Director: Dr. Kirk Aamot Accompaniment: Richard Harvey, Classic Impressions- Delaina Oberman
Soloists: Katie O'Brien, Kathleen Sheehy, Marie Vavro, Wynne Wood, Thomas Kaiser, Scott Hochstetler
2006 Director: Mary Nieuwenhuis Accompaniment: Carol Gatza, Classic Impressions- Delaina Oberman
Soloists: Sylvia Pittman, Kathleen Sheehy, Phil Guerra, Kevin A. Starnes
2007 Director: Bruce Nieuwenhuis Accompaniment: Brenda Portman, Delaina Oberman
Soloists: Laurie DiSabatino, Kathleen Sheehy, Wynne Wood, Phil Guerra, Michael Goetz
2008 Director: Gene Coburn Accompaniment: Brenda Portman, Classic Impressions- Delaina Oberman
Soloists: Laurie DiSabatino, Kathleen Sheehy, Wynne Wood, Sarah Stockton, Tara Sievers, Glen Holcomb, Ivan Griffin
2009 Director: Gene Coburn Accompaniment: Brenda Portman, Classic Impressions- Delaina Oberman, Frank Yon
Soloists: Laurie DiSabatino, Kathleen Sheehy, Marcella Forsleff, Phil Guerra, Neal Fatheree,
2010 Director: Lavonne Bomeli Accompaniment: Dr. Joseph D. Daniel
Soloists: Sarah Stockton, Marcella Forsleff, Wynne Wood, Matthew Forsleff, Wilson Nichols, Matthew Scollin
2011 Director: Lavonne Bomeli Accompaniment: Dr. Joseph D. Daniel, Matthew Forsleff
Soloists: Pia Broden-Williams, Sarah Stockton, Wynne Wood, Marcella Forsleff, Matthew Hunter, Wilson Nichols, Matthew Scollin, Frank E. Pitts, James E. Parks
2012 Director: Sarah Stockton Accompaniment: Dr. Joseph D. Daniel
Soloists: Pia Broden-Williams, Jennifer Curts, Marcella Forsleff, Wynne Wood, Phil Guerra, James E. Parks
2013 Director: Dr. Wayne Wentzel Accompaniment: Dr. Joseph D. Daniel, Matthew Forsleff
Soloists: Tara Sievers-Hunt, Pia Broden-Williams, Kasie Johnson, Wynne Wood, Robert Nickora, Frank E. Pitts
2014 Director: Roger Pan Accompaniment: Dr. Joseph D. Daniel, Christopher P. Heidenreich
Soloists: Shelly Gillett-Behrens, Kasie Johnson, Kristin Leigh-Juarez, Robert Nickora, David Lindsey, Terrence Stewart
2015 Director: Dr. Matthew J. Packer Accompaniment: Zeljko Miliceoic, Peter Kent, Alycia Wilder, Victor Galea, Craig Martin, Jeff Walker
Soloists: Sarah Stockton, Shelly Gillett-Behrens, Kasie Johnson, Aaron McCoy-Jacobs, Robert Nickora, Terrence Stewart, James E. Parks
2016 Director: Dr. B. Simon Lee Accompaniment: Dr. Hyekyung “Sia” Lee
Soloists: Laurie DiSabatino, Natalie Cocagne, Hannah Busch, Maria Berry, Aaron McCoy-Jacobs, Steven C. Pierce, Kevin A. Starnes