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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016


Music in Van Wert

By: Paul Hoverman


If you have yet to get in the Christmas spirit, we have two events guaranteed to move you into the spirit this weekend.

This Saturday night at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center will be perhaps the best Christmas variety show you have experienced since the days when we all gathered around the family TV to watch the Andy Williams Christmas specials. You remember those days, right?  It seems the whole family would enjoy this Christmas tradition on TV together. I miss those days!

Well, this Saturday we are going to bring everything but Andy himself to Van Wert. Unfortunately, Andy Williams passed in 2012, but we still hear his iconic voice everywhere we go at Christmas time. Taking over his Christmas Extravaganza Show is Jimmy Osmond of the Osmond Brothers. A longtime performer and friend of Williams, he now takes this show that was so successful in Branson, Missouri, and modeled after the TV specials, on the road. They will leave Branson and come directly to Van Wert and then make just a couple other stops in the U.S. before heading to Europe with the show.  We are indeed fortunate to have them.

Many of you probably remember how Andy Williams basically introduced the Osmond family to the public back in the late ‘60s. Their appearance on Andy’s Christmas TV special has been shown hundreds of times. It launched the Osmond Brothers career and the rest is history. Another family of singers, The Lennon Sisters, had a similar experience on “The Lawrence Welk Show”. They were a young group of sibling singers, all girls, and had a blend that America fell in love with. Now, the Andy Williams Christmas Extravaganza reunites these two groups to bring Christmas cheer to everyone fortunate enough to attend. Illusionist Rick Thomas Snow will be part of the show, as well as other surprise guests. And don’t be surprised if you still get to see and hear Andy Williams during the show. After all, it is his show!

The show begins at 7:30 p.m. and we are sold out. An outside chance of a seat not getting used is a possibility. You can check with the box office at 419.238.6722.

Although you can bet there will be parts of the Andy Williams Christmas Extravaganza that will mention the “reason for the season,” if you want to really experience the real reason for Christmas, you need to come to First United Methodist Church the following night, this Sunday, December 11, for George Frederick Handel’s Messiah. This presentation begins at 7 p.m. and is free to the public.

Soloists are coming from Perrysburg, Akron, New York City, and Boston and they will be joined by a 17-piece chamber orchestra and a grand 60-voice chorus to bring the message of the birth of Christ into your hearts. Keep checking the media later this week to read more about this performance and its performers.

The Van Wert County Foundation sponsors this traditional biennial performance in cooperation with the First United Methodist Church. There will be a free-will offering taken, but there is no admission charge.  The sanctuary will be open to the public to arrive at 6 p.m. for the performance.

I’m sure I will see you sometime this weekend as we spread the joy of Christmas throughout the Van Wert community and beyond.


POSTED: 12/07/16 at 8:35 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

I have spent much of my day today working on getting Messiah music out to the many orchestra members who will be playing Messiah on December 11 in Van Wert.  This is the year a Messiah performance will be given at First UM Church in Van Wert, beginning at 7 p.m.  The Van Wert County Foundation sponsors this holiday performance through the Saltzgaber Music Fund, in cooperation with First UM Church.

For over two decades, a community Messiah performance has been organized, rehearsed, and performed biennially (every two years.)  I say community performance, but it certainly has a regional feel to it.  Most of the 60-voice chorus comes from Van Wert County, but we also have singers from outside of Van Wert.  The orchestra members come from all over the state, from Toledo to Cleveland and Springfield to Lewis Center and Bowling Green. Musicians will travel to play good music!

Our soloists come from Boston, New York City, Akron, and Perrysburg. So, as you can see, we have a national representation to our Messiah performance. Most have some kind of ties to Ohio and are happy to return to the Buckeye State and share their talents with us. I feel very blessed and fortunate that so much talent is willing to come together to present Handel’s Messiah.  What a masterful work and what a powerful message!

I invite all of you to First U.M. Church on Sunday night, December 11, at 7 p.m. for this inspirational and uplifting concert.  It’s an amazing experience to have the stage filled in a beautifully decorated sanctuary with a packed house.  Watch the news next week for more detailed information about our soloists.

The holiday entertainment continues at the Niswonger this Sunday night as Sandy Patti brings “Christmas Blessings” to our stage. I am sure it will be a wonderful Christmas blessing, as she has one of the most iconic voices of all Christian artists. Tickets are still available at the box office.  Call 419.238.NPAC (6722) or go online at and order your tickets. Doors to the lobby open at 6:30 p.m., where you will be entertained by the VWHS Select Choir. So come early and get into the Christmas spirit, even before the show starts!

Also, don’t forget about the Andy Williams Christmas Show featuring the Osmonds, Lennon Sisters, and friends. This show is December 10 and has been sold out for months. There could be some last minute tickets released, so consider checking it out that day. The box office opens at 6:30 p.m., one hour before the show.

We then finish the holiday season with John Tesh’s Big Band Christmas on Saturday, December 17.  A few tickets remain for this show too. Tesh is the consummate entertainer who understands the true meaning of Christmas and is looking forward to returning to the Niswonger and seeing you. You can catch Tesh on radio, TV, and Sirius with his “Intelligence for Your Life” show.  When not recording, he likes to perform on stage and make music with great musicians, especially at Christmas time!

‘Tis the season for music, inspiration and entertainment.  We have the answers for you at the Niswonger!  I hope to see you soon at one of our performances.


POSTED: 11/30/16 at 7:29 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

As nearly 1,200 people laughed and enjoyed Elf: The Musical at the Niswonger last night, I couldn’t help but think of the many people it took to put the show on our stage.  It was a spectacular show, with superb music, gorgeous sets, and colorful costumes. It’s a hilarious story about Buddy, the Elf, which also has many other sentimental elements to put one in the Christmas spirit.

Behind the scenes, many workers and volunteers started moving the show in at 8 a.m. and didn’t leave until after 2 the next morning. Four 53-foot semi rigs brought the show to our loading dock and had to be emptied and moved onto our stage and backstage areas to be constructed and ready for a 7:30 p.m. curtain. Workers were busy right up to and even a bit beyond our 7 p.m. door time. Once the show was over, our crew went immediately to work in undoing what they had just done a few hours earlier!

We were fortunate to have this show at our venue. They came to us after six days and eight shows at the Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit. After our one night stop in Van Wert on Monday, they were off to Dayton for five shows at the Schuster Theater. We are definitely running with the “big dogs” in the entertainment business. I know that many in our region appreciate coming to Van Wert instead of having to drive to the larger cities and fight the traffic and parking.

It is such a blessing to have so many dedicated people willing to be involved in producing a show of this caliber in Van Wert. Many had to be paid labor, but the ones who volunteer their time are due our deepest appreciation for the time they committed to making this show come to life on our stage for so many to enjoy.

This show was almost an exception in the amount of work involved, but we have three more Christmas shows coming this season where many others will volunteer time too. What a blessing all our volunteers are! From stage crew to front of house volunteers, to those feeding the workers (thank you, Kandi Saunier), we are truly blessed.

Up next is Sandi Patty’s Christmas Blessings on Sunday, December 4, at 7:30 p.m. Sunday night during the Christmas season is a perfect time to enjoy and be blessed with inspiring music from one of Christian music’s all-time greatest singers: Sandy Patti. This five-time Grammy Award-winning singer will soar your spirits as we draw closer to Christmas. Only about a hundred tickets remain for this show. The same can be said for John Tesh’s Big Band Christmas on Saturday, December 17; so don’t delay if you want to catch these shows.

The Andy Williams Christmas Show is tucked in the middle on December 10 and is sold out.

Now is an excellent time to think about getting someone a Niswonger gift card. Giving music is a wonderful gift to give at Christmas! You can get gift cards at the box office any time and for any amount you choose. Once we hit 2017, we have a whole new line-up of another 13 outstanding concerts to choose from. Our box office will be closed Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving so our employees can also enjoy being with friends and family.

We all have so much to be thankful; not to even mention that my Dallas Cowboys are 9-1 going into Thursday’s game with the Redskins. I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving filled with food, family, and fun!


POSTED: 11/23/16 at 7:43 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

This past Monday, Lincolnview Local Schools and Vantage Career Center board member Eric German provided a thrill for nearly a hundred local students. Germann was honored as the 61st president of the Ohio School Boards Association in a ceremony held in the Columbus Convention Center. Congratulations, Eric!  As a result of that honor, the Lincolnview High School band and choir were invited to perform on stage as part of the program. Mrs. Anna Baker directs the band and Mrs. Stacie Korte is the choir director.

I was privileged to attend as the spouse of the choir accompanist and also as a trumpet soloist with the choir. I couldn’t help but notice the wide eyes of these local students as they entered the big ballroom of the Columbus Convention Center. I know how hard they have worked, preparing for their performances in front of nearly 5,000 attendees with standing room only. Each group did their school, President Germann, and our entire community proud as they performed on probably the biggest stage of their lives! Kudos to the kids, their directors, and the Lincolnview Local School District for giving them all this wonderful growing experience, which will likely be treasured by all of them for a long time.

The Lincolnview High School choir performs at the OSBA Capital Conference in Columbus. (photo submitted)

The Lincolnview High School choir performs at the OSBA Capital Conference in Columbus. (photo submitted)

This makes me think of the tremendous music opportunities many of our local student musicians have had even recently. Although I didn’t have the chance to catch Crestview’s production of Peter Pan, I heard it was outstanding!  And I’m sure the Van Wert High School band students are still cherishing their recent opportunity to march in “The Shoe” at The Ohio State University. There have been and will be more opportunities to come for many music students in our community. Remember, the next person you might see on the Niswonger stage could be a local musician of our very own!

Ready or not, here we come! Christmas at the Niswonger starts Monday, November 21. Elf, the Musical moves in for a rare Monday night Broadway Christmas show. We are fortunate that school is out of session on Monday with parent-teacher conferences. It takes a lot of backstage area to produce a four semi-truck show like Elf, the Musical. We appreciate the VWHS music staff’s cooperation of allowing us to utilize some of their space to produce these large shows.

Elf is sold out and has been for some time. Check at the last minute, though, to see if any tickets have been released. We would hate to have any seat go empty for this great holiday production. Four 53-foot semi rigs will empty a lot of gear and staging for this show, including an orchestra pit of musicians. I’m sure it will be a production you won’t want to miss, filled with laughter and music.

This will certainly be a perfect way to get into the holiday spirit as Thanksgiving Day will follow on Thursday.  And then we all know it is full speed ahead into the Christmas season with “Sandi Patty’s Christmas Blessings” on December 4, “The Andy Williams Christmas” on December 10, Handel’s Messiah at First United Methodist Church on December 11 and then “John Tesh’s Big Band Christmas” on December 17.

I hope you can join us at the Niswonger this holiday season. Our newly formed Visual Arts Committee has the place already decked out in the Christmas spirit and we can’t wait for you to see their new work. We can’t thank these people enough!

It’s always a magical time at the Niswonger during Christmastime and this year will absolutely be no exception. The Messiah community chorus has had two rehearsals already and can’t wait to lift your spirits on December 11 also.  Give thanks for the season and let music fill your lives. You’ll be glad you did.


POSTED: 11/16/16 at 7:52 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

The weather is turning and so did our clocks … back! When you look at the calendar and see November, you know we are headed into the holiday season. One of the most favorite things of the holiday season for me is the wonderful music we enjoy.

The good thing about living in our community is that you never lack good music, especially during the Christmas season. This year will certainly be no exception. Schools will be presenting Christmas concerts with their choirs and bands. We have some very fine school music ensembles to enjoy.  And I just saw that the Van Wert Civic Theater is presenting Miracle on 34th Street this season.  This is certainly a wonderful story and we know the Civic Theater does an exceptional job.  We have some churches in our area that also produce good music about the true meaning of Christmas.

This also happens to be a Messiah year.  The Van Wert County Foundation-sponsored performance of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah will be held at First United Methodist Church in Van Wert on Sunday, December 11, at 7 p.m.  If you want to be inspired and exposed to some of the greatest music ever written, then you won’t want to miss this. We held our first chorus rehearsal this past Sunday and are off to a good start. The next rehearsal is this Sunday from 3-5 p.m. at First UM Church. Join us if you like to sing!

I will announce the soloists as we draw closer, but we are blessed to be able to have four very outstanding vocalists solo with the chorus and chamber orchestra. This is an opportunity to expose young people, as well as adults, to the Christmas story as told by a master composer who, I believe, was divinely inspired to compose this master piece in 24 days.  The hour and 15-minute portion we will perform took only six days to compose!  Try that someday … even if you have the capability. Every person needs to hear the “Great Amen” and the “Hallelujah Chorus” performed live at some point in their life. Here’s your opportunity: December 11, right here in Van Wert.

Now here is what the Niswonger Performing Arts Center is offering for your Christmas stocking. We start with “Elf, the Musical” on November 21. This is the Monday before Thanksgiving. We have one performance starting at 7:30 p.m. It is sold out, but you might check to see if there have been any seats released that we couldn’t originally sell. There could be a few.

On Sunday, December 4, we are welcoming back one of the most incredible female vocalists of our time: Sandy Patti. She opened our center in 2007 and is now looking to retire soon. She is bringing her entire family with a band to perform Christmas Blessings. And I’m sure it will be! A few tickets remain, but don’t wait long.

December 10 brings another already sold-out Christmas show to the Niswonger in the Andy Williams Christmas Show. Who among us Baby Boomers and older don’t remember the Andy Williams Christmas shows on TV?  They were a highlight of the TV Christmas season each year. Andy passed away just four years ago. He had his Christmas show in Branson, Missouri, for many years and upon his passing, his family gave the rights to Jimmy Osmond to continue the show on the road.

Two of the most iconic musical families, the Osmonds and the Lennon Sisters, have teamed to put this Christmas extravaganza together. They will be taking it to Europe, but before they leave the U.S., we were fortunate to get the show to come to Van Wert. A very good agent friend of mine pulled some strings to get us on the tour; unfortunately, if you don’t already have a ticket, you may miss it.  It’s been sold out for weeks.

But we are happy to give you one more opportunity to enjoy some great Christmas music with another one of America’s most gifted entertainers and musicians in John Tesh. Tesh’s Christmas Show will be a wonderful concert on Saturday, December 17. Tesh sings, plays the piano, and brings an outstanding band of musicians to swing you into the holidays! Get your tickets now as this one also is selling quickly.

So, there you have it — Christmas music for the entire season.  And, oh yeah, Happy Thanksgiving first! One of my favorite holidays of the year.


POSTED: 11/08/16 at 11:42 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

In 1991, Russel Maher replaced the legendary Larry Schaufelberger as the Senior Choir director at First United Methodist Church in Van Wert. Russ was working on his Master of Music degree at BGSU and was traveling from his home in Coldwater to Bowling Green on most days. Although his stint as choir director would last only two years, he did a number of aggressive musical projects. One of those was bringing back a community Messiah performance for Van Wert. Now, 25 years later (wow!), the tradition continues.

Messiah performances, whether during Advent or Lent, had been performed in Van Wert for years before Russ resurrected it.

Some older citizens recall it being performed even before World War II.  A couple constants have been that it was most often performed at First UM Church and that funding for orchestra (if used) and soloists was provided by the Saltzgaber Music Fund of The Van Wert County Foundation.

Mr. Gaylord Saltzgaber signed his last will and testament on July 17, 1929. He obviously had an affection for Classical music, as he left the majority of his capital for the “purpose of aiding and encouraging the production of good music, vocal and instrumental, for the people of the city of Van Wert, Ohio; to help especially among the poor folks, any who show special talent.”

He went on to state: “I express my opinion against jazz or any acquired tremulo (actually spelled tremolo) in the voice.”  We know that his second wife (first one deceased), Eliza, was a church musician at First United Methodist Church.

We in Van Wert certainly know the positive effect Gaylord Saltzgaber has had on music in Van Wert over the many years. It continues today through many musical efforts and projects throughout our schools and community, not to even mention the Saltzgaber Music Hall in the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. As the coordinator of performing arts for The Van Wert County Foundation and as choir director at First UM Church, I have continued the tradition of a Messiah performance in Van Wert at First UM. In an effort to not wear anyone, (singers and audience) out, I decided to do the performance biennially — once every two years.

This is a Messiah year. I believe we are all looking forward to this monumental task of putting together a volunteer chorus, a hired orchestra and soloists, and preparing for an inspirational performance during this Christmas season. This Saturday will be our first rehearsal for the chorus. It will be held in the sanctuary of First UM Church from 3-5 p.m.  I am looking for anyone who loves to sing, can sing in tune, and wants a thrilling and inspirational musical experience this Christmas season. The performance will be December 11 at 7 p.m.

We have a number of music books, so don’t let the lack of owning music be an excuse not to sing. Some communities do a Messiah sing where anyone can just show up and sing it on the same day. We prepare our chorus over six weeks and expect it to be a polished performance by volunteer singers with a professional orchestra and soloists. You do not have to be the world’s best singer (although we wouldn’t turn him or her away), but just a willing singer who would like to join the ranks of a mighty chorus.

Once you experience it, you will want to return. The thrill of singing Handel’s “Great Amen” and “Hallelujah Chorus” with all your fellow chorus members, an orchestra, pipe organ, and four professional voices joining in, is a memory you will never forget!

After this Saturday’s rehearsal, we will have Sunday afternoon rehearsals, beginning November 13, from 3-5 p.m. until the December performance. We welcome anyone high school age and above. I hope you will consider joining us and discover the joy and thrill of having the Messiah in your Christmas plans this year!


POSTED: 11/02/16 at 6:14 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

Those of you who attend concerts at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center probably hear me, or someone in my stead, thank our sponsors, underwriters, members, etc.  As I walk off stage, I am often thinking, I hope people realize how much we appreciate their support, and how much the audience should appreciate their support.

We certainly don’t take support, whether it’s underwriting, memberships, or even advertisers lightly. We realize that each business or individual has many options on how to spend their money. We try to offer opportunities we feel will benefit that contributor and make it a positive investment for them.

It is because of these extra revenues streaming into the Niswonger that allow you, the customer to pay less for your ticket. It also allows us to do extra things to enhance your concert experience, both on the stage and before you even get into the performance hall. I can’t tell you the number of times we have been able to add to a concert because of the extra contributions we have received. That could be adding more musicians to make the concert more exciting and enjoyable, or adding more production elements which enhance the experience.

We have been fortunate to have season sponsors, presenting sponsors, supporting sponsors, members, advertisers, and other contributors. This season, we have three season sponsors: StateWide Ford, Van Wert Federal Savings Bank, and Chuck and Karen Koch. They receive recognition at each concert, but I also hope you keep them in mind when you need their services. Although they do it out of the kindness of their heart for the fact they want to enrich our community, they are only able to do it when they receive business. You can thank a sponsor by saying thanks in many ways. And if one of those is by purchasing a product from them, please let them know you appreciate what they do for you at the Niswonger.

We are now at a point where our contributors provide nearly two–thirds of our operating budget. That is a huge contribution that we are so grateful for. Many non-profit centers like ours actually operate on even a higher contributions level. I do take pride in the fact that our ticket buyers still make up the majority of our budget. I think that keeps a performing arts organization like ours vibrant. After all, it’s the patron in the seat that performers are actually playing and singing for, so we thank you as well.

We have had several individuals, as well as businesses and corporations, who have asked how they can be involved in the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. We would be glad to talk with anyone wishing to partner and team with us in the future. It will only make us even better. Feel free to contact me or my marketing team at the Niswonger to see how you can be more involved. Some have seen me in the lobby and asked me how they can support a certain concert or season. I am always happy to talk to you about this.

The Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation is in its 10th year of operating the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. We have been truly blessed in so many ways with the support of contributors and patrons. We will never take it for granted and hope it is always a win-win situation for the contributor, the ticket buyer, and our organization.

I just have to mention what a privilege it was to present Doc Severinsen in concert this past Sunday night. Doc is 89 years old and I just knew good things don’t last forever. But in Doc’s case, I think if you were in attendance, you saw that some things last longer than others. What a vibrant 89-year-old performer! He rides horses and works out regularly, in addition to practicing at least two hours every day … still!

Up next is Country Music award-winning band Diamond Rio. They will be in concert this Saturday, October 29, at 7:30 p.m. I had actually forgotten that they had once been called the Tennessee River Boys and Van Wert’s own Mel Deal used to play with them quite often. As The Tennessee River Boys, they once performed at the Marsh Foundation as part of our Community Concert Series.

Since changing their name in 1991, they have taken Country Music by storm, winning many Country Music Awards, as well as a Grammy. A few tickets remain, but we expect a very full house. Don’t wait too long!  I’ll see you Saturday night.


POSTED: 10/26/16 at 6:00 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

The doctor in this case is Doc, the only musician I know who is universally known, and deserves to be known, by simply Doc.  Born to a dentist, Carl Severinsen, and his wife, Minnie Mae, Carl Hilding Severinsen, “Little Doc” took up the trumpet because he couldn’t find a trombone or violin (what his father played) at the local music store. Thank you, local music store!

It didn’t take long for Little Doc to start making waves in the music field and at the age of 12, he was winning music competitions and soon began playing with local bands. His young career was cut short by World War II when his country called and he was drafted into the military. Once the war was over, Little Doc resumed his playing career playing popular music on radio in Oregon, his home state.

Little Doc was shortened to just Doc as he started playing in “The Tonight Show” Orchestra under legendary Skitch Henderson. Shortly after Johnny Carson took over “The Tonight Show” from Steve Allen, Doc took over as “The Tonight Show” band leader. His flashy outfits made him the next day’s conversation and he became a mainstay and valuable part of the trio of characters, along with Johnny and Ed McMahon. Doc would take the place of Ed McMahon as Johnny’s sidekick when Ed was away.

The rest is pretty much history … and legend. Doc soon became one of the most well-known trumpet players in the world. As a trumpet player myself, Doc was the epitome of what I strived to be. Doc could play jazz and popular music as he displayed each night on TV, but he could also play very difficult technical pieces. His sound was immediately recognizable. No one had such a big, bright and bold sound as Doc. Many of us grew up playing the Severinsen model trumpet made by the Getzen Company. It was one of the best ways to sound as much like Doc as possible, along with a lot of practice, of course!

Doc would frequently concertize around the country. As a freshman trumpet major at Bowling Green State University, Doc gave a memorable concert in Anderson Arena for a Parent’s Day audience. I still remember the piece he dedicated to all the trumpet majors at BGSU. I felt special even though I hadn’t met him. I would later hear him at the Embassy Theater in Fort Wayne and actually had the opportunity to meet him.

After Johnny Carson left “The Tonight Show”, Doc took to the road with many of his friends in “The Tonight Show” Big Band. He has since taken on other special music projects, but has now returned to his roots, touring with a big band and a vocalist. I knew it was time to bring Doc to the Niswonger. I understand he still plays up a storm at the age of 89. If you don’t believe me, come to the Niswonger this Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. and hear for yourself. I doubt you will be disappointed.

Tickets are still available, although the hall is getting filled. Don’t miss this music and TV legend at the Niswonger. I have trumpet playing friends coming from Seattle to Cincinnati to Youngstown. They realize it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. The Doc will enjoy seeing you Sunday night!

Now, Sunday night is only one of a double-header we have at the Niswonger this weekend. Vocalosity, the very popular a cappella singing group will be in concert this Saturday night. They are extremely popular on college campuses, based on their stops before coming to the Niswonger this Saturday: U. of Illinois, Indiana U., Butler U., us, and then Akron University. We even saw they were playing in Milwaukee during a recent trip to this fine city.

Two more outstanding concerts to offer you at the Niswonger. Vocalosity this Saturday followed by Doc Severinsen and his Big Band Sunday night. The only way the weekend could get any better would be with another Dallas Cowboy victory, and they have a bye this weekend. So I look forward to seeing you at the Niswonger this weekend for a musical double header of two great shows!


POSTED: 10/18/16 at 4:32 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

This week and the next, the Niswonger Performing Arts Center presents two concerts with special appeal for the younger audience, as well as the young at heart. Colton Dixon is a 2012 finalist on the 2012 edition of Fox’s “American Idol”.  Following his appearance on “American Idol” his singing, recording, and concertizing career took off.

His appeal is with the young audience, and young Christian audience in particular; however, as I listen to his music, he has some very nice ballads and his singing voice is very, very good.  His message is positive and Christ centered — something our youth can really use a lot of.

The concert begins this Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are currently on sale at the box office. There may also be tickets available at the door Sunday night. The box office opens at 6:30 p.m., or always one hour before the concert event begins.  Doors to the music hall open at 7 p.m. typically.

The following week, on Saturday, October 22, the Niswonger welcomes a new young a cappella group called Vocalosity. The artistic producer of the show is Deke Sharon, also the creator of TV’s “Pitch Perfect” and “The Sing-Off”. I had the opportunity to meet Sharon in New York last year and I know he is thrilled with the show. It’s a fast paced production that features 10 dynamic voices he personally auditioned and selected. They sing, dance, and move to today’s chart-topping hits in their own brand new a cappella arrangements. You will hear all kinds of musical styles in their show. Even the barbershop singers of the world are excited about this concert experience.  They call it the “aca-perfect” concert experience.

Now, lest you think we have forgotten or forsaken the more mature audience members, be not afraid!  The very next day after Vocalosity, one of my heroes comes to the Niswonger. The good doctor will be visiting Van Wert. Doc Severinsen and his Big Band will be bringing classic songs to the stage with a female vocalist.

Doc is a fluke of musical and physical nature. At 89 years old, he is the last standing of the three comrades who ruled late night TV from the 1960s through the early 1990s. Johnny Carson was to so many, the “King of late night TV” as he hosted “The Tonight Show” with side-kick Ed McMahan and band leader Doc Severinsen. The three formed a very likeable team that entertained millions of TV viewers every week night.

Following Johnny Carson’s retirement and leaving “The Tonight Show”, Doc immediately took to the road with his music. His Big Band on “The Tonight Show” was, for many, the epitome of popular Big Band music.

Filled with some of the top musical talent in the country, and especially on the West Coast, audiences were thrilled to continue hearing the exciting music created by this powerful band of musicians.

Since the 1990s, Doc has continued performing in several different genres of music, but Big Band music is where his soaring trumpet sound has always been best known.

Now at the age of 89, Doc continues playing that powerful and melodic trumpet, surrounding himself with musicians who jump at the chance to perform with him. I’ll tell you more about Doc next week as we approach his concert in Van Wert at the Niswonger on Sunday, October 23.  You can still get tickets, although they are going fast. I have trumpet friends from all over the country who are coming to Van Wert to hear Doc. You won’t want to miss him!


POSTED: 10/12/16 at 6:33 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

From the title of my column this week, one might think it’s been a little hectic at our performing arts center lately. Although we do stay busy most of the time, the real zoo comes this Saturday when Jungle Jack Hanna brings all his adorable critters with him from the Columbus Zoo. The actual show begins at 3 p.m. at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Van Wert.

This is a show that will delight and amaze all those attending with the wonder of God’s wild kingdom. Jack Hanna has become the most well-known and sought after zoo keeper in the country. He can be seen on national TV commercials and late night talk shows as well as stages throughout the U.S.

Now, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, Jungle Jack, as he is affectionately known, takes animals all over the country and shares them with audience members who would never have the opportunity to experience them up close and personal. Jack has become, quite possibly, the spokesperson for animals everywhere.

In his show, Hanna will not only demonstrate live animals, but will also show video of rare animals even the zoos don’t get the opportunity to showcase to the public. His experiences are amazing!  You will love hearing stories told first-hand about Jack’s travels to the most remote areas of the world to experience and video tape animals you will never see.

A bonus for ticket buyers this time around (Jack was here in 2014) is the brilliant new video playing system recently installed in the Van Wert County Foundation Saltzgaber Music Hall. Thanks to some cherished contributors, we now have a video system that will nearly make the animals come to life right there in the Niswonger. I think you will notice a big difference in the quality of the projection on the screen.

Although adults will enjoy the show, we know that kids especially love animals. And we have enhanced the whole Jungle Jack Hanna Show experience with pre-show events in the Van Wert Federal Grand Lobby. The Atomic Sharks will be performing silly kid’s songs with their ukuleles in the lobby starting at 2 p.m.  Coloring and other fun activities will also be available for kids to enjoy. Adults can enter the Music Hall at 2:30 p.m., while the children enjoy a fun time leading up to the show. All seats are reserved, so enjoy whatever you like, whenever you like.

Another bonus we are offering ticket buyers to Jack Hanna is the opportunity to buy tickets for Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live!  This wonderful kid’s show will be at the Niswonger for two shows on Saturday, February 25.  Tickets to the public are scheduled to be released November 23.  If you attend Jungle Jack’s show this Saturday, you will be offered the opportunity to get an early buy on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.  So get the early start on tickets and enjoy the choice of the best seats in the house for this wildly popular PBS Kid’s show.

Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild Live, sponsored nationally by Nationwide Insurance, is actually brought to us at the Niswonger by our friends at Belna Petroleum, along with supporting sponsors Betsy’s Boutique Shop in Rockford and Dr. Jon T. Romer, OD, in Celina. The fun you enjoy with the Atomic Sharks will be sponsored by Dr. Tom Wilkin’s Animal Clinic of Van Wert. We thank all of these sponsors for bringing Jungle Jack back to the PAC!

There may be tickets still available at the door Saturday. So come on out and enjoy an afternoon of wonder and amazement as Jack Hanna takes us into the wild once again in Van Wert. Tickets begin at just $15!

And don’t forget, Messiah rehearsals begin Saturday, November 5, from 3-5 p.m., at First United Methodist Church in Van Wert. Spread the word!


POSTED: 10/04/16 at 8:58 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert