A 60-voice Chillicothe Area Community Choir will present "The Music of Christmas" at 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 16, at the Gary Dickinson Performing Arts Center in Chillicothe. The program also includes a bell choir, a chamber orchestra, and instrumental accompaniments by local musicians. The choir is directed by Frank Thomas, retired director of choral activities at Missouri Western University, in St. Joseph, Mo.

"I think our audience will be well pleased with this beautiful program, highlighting the vocal and instrumental talent of local and area persons," arts administrator Julie Ashbrook said. "They have worked diligently each week since Oct.2, and the outcome is impressive."

"The arts council wanted to provide an opportunity for local and area vocalists to sing with a large community choir," Ashbrook said. "We wanted a director of exceptional skill, so that the singers could add to their knowledge and be proud of the outcome of their community choir experience which, in this case, is a public performance of great Christmas music. And finally, we wanted to feature some local and area musicians within the program," she said.

Local musicians Betty Preston-Steele and Mary Willis put the program together for the arts council last spring. They have helped in the teaching and directing of choir parts during the initial practices while the choir learned section parts. Carolyn Johnson, music director of the Frist Baptist Church, volunteered to be the accompanist for the choir, and according to Preston-Steele, Johnson is phenomenal at the task, as she is an accompanist who uniquely understands how to bring out the parts of the various sections.

"I have always thought of Chillicothe as just a gem," Frank Thomas said. "They have always had such a strong arts and music program in their schools, and the community just does a great job of supporting the arts. I have been amazed at the make-up of the choir—people from all walks of life—some music instructors or retired music instructors and some who have never been in a choir before. They have all worked hard!" Thomas said.

The performance is part of the Chillicothe Area Arts Council's 2012-13 arts season. Season ticket holders will be admitted with their season ticket. The box office opens at 2 for those wanting to purchase tickets. Ticket costs are $10 for adults and $3 for students. Seating begins at 2:30.