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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, Apr. 27, 2017


Music in Van Wert

By: Paul Hoverman


This Sunday will be nuts with mutts all over the stage at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.  The actual name of the show is “Mutts Gone Nuts”, and it should be a hoot!  Everyone loves dogs doing funny and cute things on stage.  I actually think people watch and think, “Why doesn’t my dog do this?”  I hope you are one of those already with a ticket because we are technically sold-out.  On Sunday, the box office will open at 2 p.m. for this 3 p.m. show, and you might be able to get a seat if the show releases a few seats. It all depends on how many of the dogs want to come out and watch their friends on stage. Just kidding!

As we at the Niswonger like to do, we have once again enhanced this show by adding comedian Robert Post and his Comedy Theater.  When you have laughed enough at the dogs, Post will come out and entertain us with his zany wit and comedy.  Anyone who has met Robert Post knows that he doesn’t think like the rest of us.  He is a unique character who will have you in stitches.

These two shows usually work entirely on their own, but I just thought you might enjoy a double dose of laughter on a Sunday afternoon.  This is just another way we at the Niswonger make your experience like none other!

Add on top of all this laughter, our unveiling of the 2017-18 Enrich Community Concert Series. We have rebranded the name to include “enrich” because we particularly chose the concerts on this series, which will enrich your lives in so many ways. Once you see our line-up for next year, you will fully understand.

Dark Horse Productions, along with the golden voice of Chris Roberts, has put together a four-minute video clip of this series that will be presented by Unverferth Dentistry and Roger and Kay Okuley.  So plan on being in your seats by about 2:55 Sunday afternoon if you can to enjoy the announcement of this exciting and enriching series of concerts for next year.

I would love to tell you about each concert now, but we must wait for Sunday’s unveiling. I will just say that there will be some very entertaining, amazing, and musical events, including a surprise for the hometown patrons to share with our many visitors. Information about how and when you can purchase the series will be shared on Sunday. You will also receive the brand new Enrich Community Concert Series pamphlet with all the information you will need.

Once again, this all happens this Sunday, April 30, at 3 p.m.  Doors to the lobby open at 2 p.m.  Be prepared to laugh and be entertained!

The Hit Men are coming the following Saturday, May 6.  Each day we draw closer to a full house, but a few good seats remain.  This is also a reminder that the REO Speedwagon concert originally scheduled for April 29 was moved this past January to May 21. Check your calendars to make sure you have this change.

The rest of May will be filled with dance recitals by Kristina’s Dance Escape and Kim Hohman’s DanceWorks. We are pleased to have a beautiful facility that meets the needs of these dance studios. 

We are then ready to head to Fountain Park for the 16th annual Fountain Park Summer Music Series. Information about the summer concerts can be obtained at The Van Wert County Foundation office, as well as the lobby of the Niswonger.  You can also visit the websites of The Van Wert County Foundation, the Niswonger PAC, and Van Wert City Parks & Recreation Department.

POSTED: 04/26/17 at 5:46 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

We are inching our way to the summer, and that means concerts in Fountain Park in downtown Van Wert.  For sixteen years, I’ve looked over to Fountain Park from my church job at First UM in the winter and thought, summer will be a way off.  Now, for the sixteenth season, concerts will return to Fountain Park, compliments of The Van Wert County Foundation.  We are just six weeks away from our first concert on June 2.

This week, we had representatives from eight non-profit organizations gather to select their concert they will serve food for.  They are as follows:

  • June 2 — Groove Essential, Peony Festival Committee
  • June 16 — The Doo Wah Riders, Kingsley United Methodist Church
  • June 23 — Travelin’ McCourys, Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary 54
  • June 30 — Lima Pops Orchestra, Boy Scout Troop 35
  • July 7 — U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors, The Salvation Army
  • July 14 — The Stranger: Billy Joel Tribute, Van Wert Band Parents
  • July 21 — We’ve Only Just Begun: Carpenters Tribute, Crestview Band Parents
  • July 28 — Hotel California (Eagles tribute), Buckeye Y
  • August 11 — Southern Drawl, Van Wert County Humane Society

You might notice a new concert in the lineup from our initial press release.  The U.S. Army contacted me recently and said they could make a stop in Van Wert on July 7.  The Van Wert Area Community Concert Band graciously gave up that date to the Army. (Can’t fight the U.S. Army and win, you know!)  Thanks to the Community Band and their director Richard Sherrick.  I imagine many of them will attend the Jazz Ambassadors concert.  By the way, you can still catch the Community Band in Fountain Park on May 26 and August 18 as well as other events this summer throughout the area.

The U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors are known as America’s Big Band and provide big band jazz music for American citizens to enjoy as well as those serving in the military.  Each musician is a soldier of the United States Army, but also expert musicians, many of whom have degrees and master degrees from prestigious schools of music. Getting accepted into the top musical organizations of the military is very competitive.  An audition process eliminates many and accepts only the very best.

Any time the U.S. military calls, I am very quick to oblige and have them perform for you.  I think it is a distinct honor to have them in our community and I know you will enjoy and show your appreciation to them.

There is one concert left at the Niswonger this season that still has some seats available.  That is The Hitmen on Saturday, May 6.  It is also quickly filling up, so don’t delay on getting your tickets for this one.  The band is comprised of musicians who helped make the music everyone has enjoyed over the years from the likes of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Tommy James and the Shondells, Carly Simon, Jim Croce, Barry Manilow, and Elton John, just to name a few.  

I’ve heard them on a couple occasions and didn’t want them to stop playing and singing.  Visit the box office or go online soon.  May 6 will be here soon!

With that being said, I am getting very excited with the progress of next year’s season at the Niswonger.  It is just about finished and I just got confirmation on a big name artist I’ve been after for some time.  Stay tuned!


POSTED: 04/18/17 at 4:15 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

I recently heard a TV announcer proclaim that Holy Week and Easter are the most important holidays on the Christian calendar. It seems of late that Easter does not get the same recognition I just stated. I understand that Easter is not celebrated by all, but for America being predominantly a Christian nation, I believe it is still a very popular event on the calendar.

As a child, I used to look forward to Easter because of the Easter basket I would receive filled with all kinds of sweet goodies. Of course, we would all dress up and even occasionally get a new suit for Easter. Back then, we used to think dressing up was important when going to God’s house. Some of us still feel that way.

Remember all the fun songs we would sing about the Easter bunny; songs like “The Easter Parade,” and “Here Comes Peter Cottontail?” And then we would always color eggs and mark them up with crayons or whatever marker we could find. Pickled eggs were and still are my favorite

As one gets older, you realize the real celebration surrounding Easter and the meaning of Holy Week. Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter take on poignant and joyful meaning for those of us who are Christian.

I was very honored and pleased when I received a phone call from an agent who said that David Phelps wanted to return to the Niswonger to do a special Good Friday concert. We had just presented him for Christmas last year and the whole audience really enjoyed his wonderful voice. It was not at all difficult to tell him yes, we would love to have him give a Good Friday concert.

Well, that time is just about here. This Friday is Good Friday and I can’t imagine anyone I would rather hear sing about the Holy Week and Easter celebration. David Phelps, or “DP” as my friend and David Phelps enthusiast, JoAnne Wolford, refers to him as, is one of the most gifted tenors in the world. His power, control, and emotion he can put into a song are unmeasured.

This Good Friday concert at our Niswonger Performing Arts Center, I believe, will have even more passion and emotion than any other concert on his current tour he entitles “A Journey of Faith through Hymns.” Singing about Jesus and God, the Father on Good Friday will certainly stir the soul of audience members. Add to the timeframe of this concert, the added fact that this phenomenal tenor loves to sing in the acoustic friendly Saltzgaber Music Hall and those in attendance will be in for a very special night.

As I look now, there are 37 seats yet available. Don’t miss this one if possible. You will find out that Easter is much better than “The Easter Parade,” “Peter Cottontail,” peeps, chocolate bunnies, and yes, even better than pickled eggs!

Happy Easter to all! I look forward to sharing David Phelps concert with you this Friday night, and may you be blessed as you journey through this Holy Week and celebrate Easter in the church of your choice this Sunday.


POSTED: 04/11/17 at 9:26 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

In the words of that famous Frankie Valli tune, “Oh What a Night!”  (I think it’s actually called “December ’63”). This is what we experienced this past Saturday with the Niswonger Ten Year Gala celebration. For those of you who were able to attend, I’m sure you would concur.

We started out with 200 people neatly tucked into Willow Bend Country Club to enjoy a great dinner and hear from local sponsors, visitors, and even from Bernadette Peters and Maestro Keith Lockhart of the Boston Pops. It was wonderful to hear from those who were integrally involved in the building of the Niswonger as well as those who have bought into the operations during our ten years of existence. I always want to remember those who contributed in so many ways to make our existence possible. Our appreciation is reminded every time we present an event and step into the building.

As we were enjoying our time at Willow Bend Country Club, many others were gathering in the Van Wert Federal Grand Lobby and Keltner Upper Lobby to enjoy music, fellowship, and event night pictures. Then at 8 p.m., the stage filled with some of the most amazing musicians of the Boston Pops Orchestra and we were treated to some wonderful music of Gershwin. I think people enjoyed the first half even more than they had thought. The sound was magical!

After a 20-minute intermission, Bernadette Peters lit the stage with her electric personality, gown, hair and voice. She is the entire package, which is probably why she has been so popular on stage, in film, and TV.  At the end of her segment, The Pops kicked into “The Stars and Stripes Forever” as streamers filled the air during the finale, dropping delightfully on audience members’ heads who were giving a standing ovation. It was certainly the appropriate way to end a gala concert.

But we still weren’t done. Many made their way to the Wassenberg Art Center for our afterglow, enjoying food, music, drinks, and more fellowship late into the night.

There are so many to thank that I think I will just mention our sponsors for the night. If not for our three major sponsors this celebration would never have happened. The Van Wert County Foundation, Central Mutual Insurance, and Scott and Nikki Niswonger once again stepped up to the plate and helped us make our gala the memorable event it was. The Kenn-Feld Group also kicked in as a supporting sponsor to even make it better.

I realize this was an expensive ticket for some and it may have precluded some from actually being able to take part. This is my only regret. But Saturday night was for a big time dress-up celebration in a big city style.  Now that we had our fun, we will get back to bringing the arts to all people.

We will do that real soon too!  Two more Niswonger events occur this month: David Phelps Good Friday concert on April 14 and then Mutts Gone Nutts with comedian Robert Post on April 30.  Now there are a couple inspirational and fun shows!  Unfortunately, both shows are nearly sold out.  (Unfortunate only if you haven’t yet gotten a ticket.) I do believe there are about 50 seats remaining for this very special Good Friday concert with David Phelps. This will be a great Holy Week concert. I can’t wait!

The Mutts show and Robert Post will be a most enjoyable and funny show. I’ve always enjoyed Post, and who doesn’t love dogs on stage! I currently see 35 seats remaining for this one, so get to the box office or online quickly so you can enjoy these wonderful concerts and shows.

Thank you once again to all who had anything to do with our Ten Years of Wow! Gala celebration.  It truly was quite a night!  Here’s to an entirely new decade of great performances at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio!  I’ll see you soon.


POSTED: 04/05/17 at 6:20 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

I just looked back at when the first communication was for our gala concert planning. I began discussions with the booking agency for Bernadette Peters on February 4, 2016. Then, on February 22, 2016, I made my first contact with The Boston Pops Orchestra. By the time they take the stage this Saturday it will have been nearly 14 months since we began negotiations.

After making the contacts and negotiations, I needed to sell the idea to three major sponsors: Scott and Nikki Niswonger, Bill Purmort of Central Insurance, and The Van Wert County Foundation.  After securing their support, I needed to convince my board we could pull this off. Once I got the green light, we went to work. My marketing staff was able to bring on extra support from The Kenn-Feld Group, for which we are grateful. I should also mention that I needed to clear the date with Miss Bloomfield, as she had the hall signed out, preparing for their upcoming VWHS musical The Little Mermaid. She graciously cleared the date for us and we were off and running.

A Gala Committee was established of board members and my staff. We started putting ideas together of what we wanted this 10-year celebration to look like. We knew we had a concert that would put “wow” into the mouths of many people throughout the country; now we wanted to make the entire evening into an event.

What will happen this Saturday are the results of 14 months of preparation. The night begins at Willow Bend Country Club with a delicious dinner by Chef Ron and his crew. Robb Richards and his staff have been wonderful to work with in planning this dinner occasion. I told Robb I wanted it to be the best dinner he has served and it sounds like he is delivering! We have 200 guests who will be arriving at 5 p.m. Soon afterward, we are hopeful Bernadette Peters will be able to make a quick appearance before heading to sound check at the Niswonger. Maestro Keith Lockhart of The Boston Pops will also be making remarks at the dinner.

A special proclamation from Ohio Governor John Kasich and several notable speakers will share comments on the impact the Niswonger PAC has had over its 10 years of existence. We will then dine to the beautiful music of harpist Jan Bishop of Findlay.

Our Visual Arts Committee of the Niswonger, headed by Linda Mechling and crew, have been working on decorations for our lobbies for about four months. They will have the place looking spectacular as you enter the Niswonger … and even before entering. Doors to the lobby open at 6:30 p.m. Photos will be taken in the upper lobby, so plan on who you want in your photo and head upstairs at your leisure for a memorable photo of the occasion. The concession stand will be open and there will be plenty to take in and many interesting friends and guests to visit with.

The doors to the music hall open at 7:30 p.m. We will welcome you to the hall with a new look on stage as it is set for that evening’s concert. At 7:55 p.m., I will welcome you and invite Mr. Scott Niswonger to the stage to introduce Maestro Keith Lockhart and The Boston Pops Orchestra for an 8:05 p.m. downbeat. As a side note, since 1930, The Boston Pops Orchestra has had just three full-time conductors: Arthur Fiedler, John Williams, and, since 1995, Keith Lockhart.

The Boston Pops is widely recognized as “America’s Orchestra”. Their recordings and performances on TV and throughout the world of light Classical and popular music have endeared them to audiences by the millions.

The orchestra is on tour through the Midwest and members say they are honored to be part of our Ten Year Gala at the Niswonger. We are certainly honored to have them as part of our gala! Their tour is featuring the music of the great American composer George Gershwin. Appearing on the first half with the orchestra will be pianist Michael Chertock performing “Rhapsody in Blue”, the original Paul Whiteman arrangement.

Bernadette Peters will then join The Pops for a second half of popular Broadway music that only she and The Boston Pops can so effectively perform.

I am told to look for a few surprises in the second half of the concert. We will close with a befitting finale to Ten Years of Wow at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio.

But wait!  We are not yet finished. An Afterglow event at Wassenberg Art Center will follow the concert. This event is sold separately from the concert and, for just $20, I hope many of you can join us for a time of unwinding, hors’ d’oeuvres, drinks, magic, and music with the Paul Keller Jazz Trio from Detroit, Michigan, and many more surprises!

That’s it. By 1 a.m. Sunday, we will close the doors of the Wassenberg and prepare for a new decade of entertainment at the Niswonger.

The dinner is sold out, but we have a few seats remaining for the concert and afterglow. You can obtain them online at NPACVW.ORG or through the box office. We will have a packed house and the excitement will be electric. I hope you can join us as we celebrate Ten Years of Wow!


POSTED: 03/28/17 at 8:22 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

For me, this entire season of music and performing arts has been leading up to our big gala celebration on April 1 with The Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra and Bernadette Peters at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.

This past Saturday night, we presented Broadway & Beyond and it was a magnificent program featuring J. Mark McVey and Heartland Sings.  I could not have been more pleased with the final product we were entertained with Saturday night.

This Sunday afternoon, we are very fortunate to witness and hear three outstanding string players from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.  The Detroit Symphony Orchestra String Trio, comprised of the principal violinist, violist, and cellist from that respected orchestra will be giving a recital concert at the First Presbyterian Church in Van Wert.  It starts at 3 p.m. and is free and open to the public as part of The Van Wert County Foundation Sanctuary Music Series.

A friend of mine I play with in the Lima Symphony who is now working on his Doctorate of Music degree at the University of Toronto, asked if I could find a performance venue for this talented trio. We don’t get the opportunity very often to hear world-class string players in our neck of the woods. It has been since the early 1970s when string instruments were even taught in our schools around here.

It is interesting however, that there is still an interest by many in our area to learn how to play a string instrument.  I often get asked if I know a string teacher who they could learn from.  Well, if you ever wanted to be inspired by some of the best, this Sunday is your chance.  Cellist Wei Yu, violinist Yooshin Song (what an appropriate last name!), and violist Eric Nowlin comprise this talented trio.  Their credentials are world-class.

I invite you to enjoy an afternoon of Classical string music at First Presbyterian Church this Sunday at 3 p.m.  We thank the Presbyterian Church for playing host to this special engagement.

Broadway & Beyond got you in the mood for Broadway music and the Detroit Trio will get you in the mood for The Boston Pops.  Someone asked me last Saturday night if the Gala concert could top this.  My thought was, if you liked five string instruments playing backup to a Broadway singer, just imagine what a whole orchestra will sound like backing up Bernadette Peters.  In The Boston Pops Orchestra, you will hear full string sections filled with players like the three who will play this Sunday at First Presby.  There will be nothing like it!

The Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra rarely tours the Midwest.  We are so fortunate to have them in the area, let alone to have them right here in our city of Van Wert, Ohio.  We have a few tickets remaining for our Gala concert as well as our After-glow at the Wassenberg Art Center following the concert.  I sincerely hope you can join us as we celebrate “Ten Years of Wow” at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.

Until then, we have provided and will continue to provide smaller snippets of what you will be in store for on April 1.

London, Kansas City, Missouri, Chicago, Illinois, Indianapolis, Indiana: these are some of the other places you might see and hear the concerts we have in Van Wert. Save yourself some travel and money and catch them here in your own backyard!


POSTED: 03/22/17 at 6:47 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

This Saturday brings one of the finest and most talented singers to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.  In a show called “Broadway & Beyond,” J. Mark McVey will be featured with Heartland Sings out of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

J. Mark McVey is a singer who rose to international fame as Jean Valjean in the Broadway spectacular Les Miserables. As the leading actor in Les Miserables, he won the Helen Hayes Award for “Outstanding Actor” while performing in D.C.  He then moved on to be the first American singer to perform the role in London’s West End (England’s version of New York City’s Broadway.) Singing over 3,200 times as Jean Valjean, he also won the Ovation Award on the 25th anniversary tour of the smash Broadway hit at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

The list goes on and on with musical accomplishments for this singer. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, with The Boston Pops, recorded with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and on and on. But perhaps the biggest accomplishment in his life is that he is a Christian gentleman who speaks softly but sings with a big stick (if I may borrow from President Theodore Roosevelt.)  I know this first hand.

J. Mark was appearing with Ernie Haase’s Signature Sound when I first met him. We had booked their show, “Inspiration of Broadway”, three years ago. J. Mark was the featured add-on singer to the show, and as nice as Ernie Haase and his fellow singers were, it was J. Mark who I really connected with.

His father drove up to our Niswonger show from his home in West Virginia. I met him in the lobby before the show and we began conversing. I could tell he was a proud father. He and a friend had just arrived in Van Wert that day and were looking forward to hearing his son sing with Signature Sound.  I knew they had not had the chance to get anything to eat that day, so I invited him, his friend and J. Mark to eat with my wife and I after the show.

Sitting in Bob Evans Restaurant in Van Wert, J. Mark’s father told me how he sings in a church choir. He was interested that I directed a church choir. He then went further to state that I should ask J. Mark to sing at my church the next morning. I said, “Do you think he actually would?” He said, “You just tell him I said he should!”  hen J. Mark arrived at the restaurant, I gave him his father’s order and he said, “I would be honored to sing at your church.” Wow!

The next morning, he showed up at our church as I was warming up my choir downstairs and he volunteered to sing tenor in my choir.  Well, no one ever turns down someone wanting to sing tenor, especially someone with J. Mark’s credentials!  It was a difficult piece we were singing that morning and I was a little shy on tenors.  He pitch hit and fit right in.  He’s so good that he didn’t actually stick out, but added much power and depth to our sound.

He also gave our soundman a thumb drive with an orchestral accompaniment to a piece that fit just perfectly with our pastor’s sermon that morning.  He also gave his testimony before singing.  Needless to say, I was impressed and he made a huge impression on me and our entire church family.

This is the man we are bringing back to the Niswonger this Saturday night.  I put him in contact with Robert Nance, the director of Heartland Sings out of Fort Wayne.  This is a talented group of professional full-time singers and a chorus.  Robert, J. Mark and I talked early on about what type of show we wanted to create and this Saturday, you will see the results of that conversation, the planning and the rehearsing in what we call Broadway & Beyond.

It will be filled with some of the most beloved Broadway songs that J. Mark has had the pleasure of singing all over the world as well as other treasured American songs. That’s the “Beyond” part of the show.  It will all be backed up by a small orchestra and chorus. The show Saturday night will be the world premiere performance.  We are all hopeful it will be so well received that they can take it on tour later on.

One of the greatest pleasures of working a job like this is the wonderful people you meet in the world of music. J. Mark is one of the nicest and most talented and yet giving people I have met in the industry.  What a joy to bring him back to Van Wert and let him share his talents with you and Heartland Sings.

Tickets are just $20 to $35 and can be purchased at the Niswonger Box Office in advance or the night of the show. This is part of the Community Concert Series sponsored by Okuley/ Unverferth Dentistry with support by Central Insurance, E&R Trailer, Eaton Corporation, State Farm’s Tisha Fast Agency, Taylor Auto Sales, and the Van Wert County Hospital.

Next year’s Community Concert Series is now complete and we will be announcing the exciting line-up later this spring. We are proud to offer world-class concerts which help you discover new artists who you may or may not know.  This is the education part of our mission at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. I invite you to come this Saturday and discover the world-premiere of Broadway & Beyond!


POSTED: 03/15/17 at 2:00 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

As I watched Rain — A Tribute to The Beatles Monday night at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center, the enjoyment I was experiencing watching a packed house on a Monday night brought this thought to me: Music brings people together and reaches them like perhaps nothing else.

I saw people tapping their toes, clapping their hands, standing and whistling for more. Now, tapping one’s toes to music is hardly an over the top reaction, but in the case of one person I have seen on many occasions, this was the first time I have witnessed such a reaction, subtle as it may be.

Rain was an outstanding show and worthy of all the accolades we spoke of leading up to the show. The Beatles music is universal and quite varied. From the early Beatles music to their later years and finally their last recording, Abbey Road, their music reached nearly everyone … and it still does today. It’s really amazing that music written and recorded 50 years ago speaks to so many across generations.

I don’t know if I have ever witnessed an audience enjoy a concert more at the Niswonger in our 10 years. The production was amazing and wasn’t it fun to see some of those old commercials many of us grew up with in the ‘60s?

The memories continue to be made at the Niswonger as we zoom through a season of outstanding performances leading right up to our Ten Year Gala Celebration with Bernadette Peters and The Boston Pops on April 1. Every day we are selling tickets to the concert and After Glow reception at Wassenberg Art Center. Get yours today. Some good seats still remain for this once-in-a-decade concert. April 1 is just 3½ weeks away!  Don’t miss out on this one. The Niswonger will be all decked out like never before and the finale of the concert will be amazing fun!

Before the gala, we have two other outstanding concerts for you to enjoy in the month of March. This Saturday, Artrageous takes the stage in a one-of-a-kind concert event. It may be the most fun you will have in some time. I see this concert being very interactive and fun for kids and adults. I understand we will create waves throughout the audience and create our own light show. Sound like fun?  I’ll see you there! Tickets for Artrageous begin at just $15.

And if you care to try your hand at painting, stop by Wassenberg Art Center this Saturday afternoon before the concert. They will have tables set up and ready for you to try creating your very own painting. They also have a nice art display for you to enjoy. We appreciate their partnership in this event, as well as our Afterglow reception following our gala concert.

We follow Artrageous with our Broadway & Beyond concert, featuring J. Mark McVey and Heartland Sings from Fort Wayne. This is a Community Concert show that will feature all the Broadway and American favorite classics you love. A chorus will back up soloists and J. Mark McVey, an amazing singer who is best known as Jean Valjean from the Broadway sensation Les Miserables. The concert will be worth it just to hear Mark sing, but you will also experience great instrumentalists accompanying these wonderful arrangements created just for our show. Broadway & Beyond is Saturday, March 18, at 7:30 p.m. — the same start time as Artrageous this Saturday.

Not to push you too far out, but we are looking for food vendors for Fountain Park summer music concerts. Contact The Van Wert County Foundation to include your non-profit organization in the lottery to choose food servers. More on Fountain Park to come once Mother Nature decides it’s time to get warm and stay warm!

Finally, congratulations to the Lincolnview H.S. Choir, Van Wert Women’s Chorus and Freshmen Chorus, and the VWHS Band on receiving superior ratings at district contest this past weekend. The Crestview and Lincolnview bands should also be commended on fine performances.  Those receiving superior ratings now qualify for state competition this spring.


POSTED: 03/08/17 at 7:17 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

We are now officially one month away from our BIG “Ten Years of Wow!” Gala Celebration at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio.  A lot of work has gone into this celebration in the planning stages and we are now getting to the details.  I want to just paint a picture for you of what you can expect on April 1.

The day will start for 200 guests at Willow Bend Country Club at 5 p.m. for a Happy Hour leading up to the dinner. Sometime before we are served dinner, a few honored guest speakers will share thoughts and perspectives of how we got started, how we’ve grown and how we look forward to the exciting future of the Niswonger. We also have a very special publication we have prepared just for our guests with the history of the Niswonger with all kinds of fun facts. The attire for the occasion is optional black tie. Formal attire will be the dress for some, while others may want to be a little less formal.  Either is fine.

Dinner will be served at 6 p.m. and will be the kind of meal befitting the occasion. I told the country club I wanted the meal to be one of the finest they have served!  We still have room for about ten more guests at the tables. If you want to be a part of this pre-concert event, call the box office immediately. We would love to have you share in our celebration.

After a delicious dinner at Willow Bend, we will make our way to the Niswonger for the 8 p.m. Gala Concert with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra and Bernadette Peters. Doors to the lobby will open at 6:30 p.m., giving attendees plenty of time to take in the splendor of the decorated Van Wert Federal Grand Lobby.  Pictures will be taken in the upstairs lobby for those concert attendees who would like a memento of the evening.

The Visual Arts Committee of the Niswonger has been busy designing and planning a festive look for the Lobbies.  I am sure it will be beautiful inside and out and you will want to take it all in.  There will be much to see, plus you will want to visit with friends who are travelling from all over the country to be with us that night!  You will also enjoy beautiful music in the lobby as you await the opening of the doors to the Van Wert County Foundation Saltzgaber Music Hall.

After a brief curtain talk from a special guest or two, Maestro Keith Lockhart will give the downbeat to The Boston Pops playing the overture from “Nice Work If You Can Get It.” This will be followed by the very descriptive and beloved Gershwin piece “An American in Paris.”  We will then welcome pianist, Michael Chertock to the stage for the all-time favorite “Rhapsody in Blue.”  Following a 20-minute intermission, Broadway, film, TV star, actress and singer Bernadette Peters will join the Boston Pops for a memorable second half.  Be ready for some special surprises during Bernadette’s portion.  Then at the conclusion of the show, be ready for a finale like none you’ve ever seen before.

Once the concert has concluded, we take the celebration to the Wassenberg Art Center for our Afterglow Party. There will be lots of fun surprises in store as well as delicious hors devours and music provided by the Paul Keller Trio out of Detroit.  We will have the chance to casually mingle and visit with friends, make new friends, and enjoy food, drinks and other activities throughout the night.  Stay as long as you can, we have until 1 a.m. if you can make it!  The Afterglow is also on sale through the box office and on-line.

We still have some good seats available for the Gala Concert and Afterglow.  Get them now and be a part of our “Ten Years of Wow!” celebration.  You will never forget it.

Don’t forget, it will “Rain” on Monday, March 6, at the Niswonger PAC. Broadway’s “RAIN — a Tribute to The Beatles” will be performing at 7:30 p.m.  I see 12 available seats for this performance as I look today.  I’m not sure if it will continue to rain by Saturday, March 11, but it will be an Artrageous night at the Niswonger.  Don’t miss Artrageous, the live concert and portrait painting extravaganza.  Tickets are still available for this unique concert experience.

Well, that about wraps up this week with Music in Van Wert.  Good luck to those local school bands and choirs competing at District Contest this weekend at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center and Van Wert High School!


POSTED: 03/01/17 at 8:38 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

This is a good week to talk about two events related to Music in Van Wert. It’s a good week because “Ohio Has Talent!” is moving its show onto the Central Insurance Stage of the Niswonger this Saturday night. It starts at 7 p.m. and capacity is filling quickly! I would get your tickets quickly to make sure you don’t get closed out if you plan on attending.

We at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center are proud to have teamed with Community Health Professionals for the past several years to help showcase some of the best talent Ohio has to offer. It is a unique show where the audience actually gets to vote on the winner. So when you buy a ticket you become part of the show, see some very talented up and coming performers, and you support a very good cause! Anyone who has used or had family members use the services of Community Health Professionals know how blessed we are to have them in our community.

Some of the past winners and finalists have gone on to become great performers and musicians. Case in point: I just received a phone call and email from the father of the 2013 OHT winner. His name is Alex Wunder. He is from the Dayton area and is now studying classical vocal music at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. Since performing on the Niswonger stage in 2013, he has recorded, sung “The Star Spangled Banner” at a Cincinnati Bengals football game, Dayton Dragons baseball game, Cleveland Indians baseball game, numerous NCAA events and placed at national singing competitions. We would love to get him back to our stage someday. He truly has an outstanding voice!

This is the type of talent you might see when attending “Ohio Has Talent!”.  And like I said, it’s for a very good cause.

On Sunday, February 26, The Van Wert County Foundation will sponsor Van Wert County High School students from Crestview, Lincolnview, and Van Wert. It is held at First United Methodist Church in Van Wert and is an excellent opportunity to hear young student musicians who have prepared musical selections for the OMEA Solo & Ensemble contest, which was just held at St. Marys Memorial High School. This music program begins at 3 p.m. and admission is free.

There is great talent in our area and region and here are two opportunities to experience it. Tickets for “Ohio Has Talent!” may be purchased at the Niswonger Box Office. Don’t delay! And while you’re at it, don’t forget about the great professional shows we still have coming to the Niswonger this season. And there are still some available seats to purchase for our Ten Year Gala celebration with Bernadette Peters and the Boston Pops.

Who knows, maybe someday we will be featuring a young VW County artist or OHT winner on our stage with the Boston Pops?  Well, if not THE Boston Pops, then someone of their dreams. See you at the show!


POSTED: 02/15/17 at 7:30 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert