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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015


Music in Van Wert

By: Paul Hoverman


This past weekend was a busy, but educational, productive and inspiring one at the Hoverman home.  Michael Levine, founder and trombonist of Dallas Brass, returned to Van Wert to share with some of us a dream he has been working on for the past four years.

Dallas Brass performed at the Niswonger this past November and many of us were able to get a small glimpse of what his dream is all about.  It’s called Harmony Bridge.  It’s a program he is developing that incorporates music students, communities, nursing homes, veterans homes, parents, service clubs, and school music programs.

Back in November when Dallas Brass performed in Van Wert, Michael shared his vision for this project with my wife and me. It was easy to see the passion he has for this project. When asked what it is, he simply says, “It’s about changing the world!”  After a short lunch discussion, Michael could see that we shared some of his passion for changing kids’ lives through music.

This weekend, while staying in our home, we had many discussions about his project Harmony Bridge.  It all came to him several years ago when he coached a few kids on some simple songs, then took them to play for some elderly nursing home residents. What he witnessed was an epiphany of sorts to him. He saw these residents light up with life that had left many of them as they heard these students play simple songs the residents recalled from their childhood. He also witnessed the caring and loving interaction between the young students and the elderly residents. It dawned on him that he may be on to something.

Dallas Brass has been his passion and vocation for 30 years. He has enjoyed performing for audiences all over the world. However, when he saw the reactions of these people as they listened to the kids perform as simple a song as “The Muffin Man”, he felt more fulfillment than any standing ovation from a Dallas Brass performance. It is easy to see how much this project means to him as soon as you start discussing it.

Michael is a Julliard trained graduate in trombone performance. Upon graduation, he played three years in the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, then three years in the Dallas Cowboys Band (my personal favorite), before starting up Dallas Brass. An important element of nearly every Dallas Brass concert is the interaction they have with students.  Michael and his fellow musicians bring simple and fun arrangements that kids can play. In a short amount of time, they can make them sound good, while improving musical skills for the kids and developing more confidence as players.  This in turn helps develop better bands.

By adding the element of sharing the music with the elderly, it opens a whole new perspective to Harmony Bridge. Michael shared video of kids he has worked with all over the country using some of the elements of Harmony Bridge. The kids feel good about making music and sharing it with people who feel their better days are behind them. There is so much proof that the nerves in the brain that store musical memory are the last to leave a person as they grow older. In essence, music restores life!

After nearly four days and many hours of discussion about Harmony Bridge and how it can engage a school music program and a community, Michael left us to fly to Colorado for a performance with Dallas Brass at a state music conference. I don’t think we have heard the last of Harmony Bridge. It could change the world!


POSTED: 01/28/15 at 7:33 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

Here’s what’s new in performing arts for Van Wert this year.  I’ve been teasing you for a few weeks about some changes and additions to the performing arts scene as we enter 2015.  Now, we are ready to announce some exciting new opportunities for everyone to enjoy, in addition to the already scheduled events at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.

The first announcement is that the U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors will be making their very first appearance in Van Wert at the Niswonger on Tuesday, March 3. The Jazz Ambassadors are part of the U.S. Army Field Band out of Washington, D.C.  We have been honored to have the Concert Band and Army Chorus, and now we have the privilege of hosting “America’s Big Band”- the Jazz Ambassadors. This 19-piece big band is the official touring big band of the United States Army.  Formed in 1969, this musical ensemble has traveled from Boston to Baghdad and Tampa to Tokyo, performing America’s greatest original art form, jazz.

As with other military band concerts we have hosted, you will experience the very finest musicians the U.S. Army has to offer, many with advanced music degrees. The programming is always outstanding!  Some of the most memorable concerts I have experienced at the Niswonger have come from the military, whether it’s the Army, Navy or Air Force.

in listening to recordings of the Jazz Ambassadors, I know you will enjoy music from some of the greatest big band leaders of our time such as Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Gene Krupa, and others. I also know you will be stirred by the powerful vocals in some wonderful patriotic arrangements such as “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “God Bless America”.

Each Memorial Day and Fourth of July, I watch the celebrations on TV and see some of the friends we have made at the Niswonger who have performed on our stage.  This concert will feature some of these same outstanding musicians you may see on TV.

This concert, as with all other military concerts, is free of charge, but a ticket must be obtained. We are fortunate to team with Times Bulletin Media on Fox Road in Van Wert in sponsorship of this concert. Free tickets may be picked up at the Times Bulletin office or the Niswonger box office.

Another concert announcement came with the addition of singer, television, and movie star Pat Boone who will be replacing Love Letters on March 8 at 3 p.m.  Love Letters, starring Barbara Eden and Hal Linden, had to be replaced due to a schedule conflict with Linden. “Music & Memories” with Pat Boone will replace Love Letters.  Your same ticket will work for this replacement concert.  We are extremely pleased to be able to fill the date with such an outstanding performer as Pat Boone.  Pat heard wonderful things about the Niswonger from his daughter, Debby, when she performed here two years ago and he is excited to share his walk down memory lane with all of you.

Another event was announced that the Niswonger will host Pam Tebow, mother of Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, as Hands of Hope Pregnancy Services is presenting her through this Paulding County organization. Tickets for this March 18 program are available through the Niswonger box office and on-line at  Pam and her son, Tim made headline news during a pro-life commercial that ran during the Super Bowl two years ago.  Pam travels the country speaking in favor of life over abortion and has a powerful message many enjoy hearing.

This Sunday, we get back in the swing of things as we welcome National Geographic’s most sought after photographer of our time, Paul Nicklen.  His program, entitled “Polar Obsessions”, is an amazing pictorial, video and story-telling presentation of his excursions to the Polar Regions, where he has risked his life taking vivid pictures of wildlife we never get to see.  I am sure it will be an amazing afternoon of entertainment and experiences.  It starts at 3 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door and begin at just $15.

I would love to tell you about my trip to New York City last week as I attended the Performing Arts International Conference, but that will have to wait for a less busy time. As I promised, the first opportunity I had to walk up to a NYC cop in Times Square, I thanked him for his service.  As I walked away, he held his hand out to shake mine and thank me. It was obvious that he appreciated the gesture. Not as much as I appreciated his service, though!


POSTED: 01/21/15 at 7:11 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

This weekend is a busy one at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center and for high school honor musicians throughout the district. OMEA (Ohio Music Educators Association) District III presents its showcase of outstanding musicians this Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Niswonger in Van Wert. The festival concert is open to the public for a nominal ticket fee.

The Niswonger has been pleased to host this outstanding musical event for the past several years. It is always well attended and is truly a showcase concert of jazz and concert bands and chorus.

Each year, for nearly 50 years, the Ohio Music Educators Association has presented a concert of highly qualified musicians throughout the district, which includes Van Wert, Paulding, Mercer, Auglaize, Mercer, Allen, Hancock and Hardin counties. That incorporates a lot of high schools and a lot of student musicians. District III has always boasted one of the finest festival concerts in all of Ohio. It attracts the finest student musicians (all auditioned) and some of the most outstanding guest conductors, who provide excellent musical experiences for those involved. Together, they also provide the audience with an exceptional concert experience.

This year, the concert band was to have been directed by Dr. Russell Mikkelson, director of bands at The Ohio State University.  With the Buckeyes’ recent victory over Alabama, setting up the national championship game this Monday in Dallas, Dr. Mikkelson had to cancel. He has been replaced by the very capable Jeffery Shellhammer, current lecturer at The Ohio State University and formerly Capital University, as well as having a distinguished public school teaching career in instrumental music.

Mr. Duane Davis is the guest choral conductor and comes from Western Michigan University and Grand Rapids Community College. I had the privilege of watching a portion of his rehearsal with the Honors Chorus this past Saturday and it was indeed a privilege. It seems there are far too few opportunities to sit and learn from someone who is so inspiring and educational. I told my wife that it was one of those times when you just shut up, listen and learn. You know when you are in the presence of a master. I am sure the students singing in the district chorus are in for an inspiring concert experience.

Van Wert County and City Schools will be well represented in this concert. A commendation should also go to Robert Sloan, director of bands at Van Wert High School, who organizes this big event each year. It is always well organized and receives comments of being one of the best run festivals in the state.

The Van Wert County Foundation Saltzgaber Music Hall usually fills up for this concert. Doors will open 30 minutes before the 3 p.m. concert. Lobby doors and access to tickets will be open by at least 2 p.m.  WTLW Channel 44 out of Lima will be on hand to broadcast the concert as well.

We are off at the Niswonger until January 25, when National Geographic prize-winning photographer Paul Nicklen comes to town to share his experiences in Polar Obsession — a topic which we will probably relate to quite well this month! Watch the media for some exciting announcements of some new events coming to the Niswonger in the near future. In the meantime, I’m off to NYC in search of some more talent for next year. I’ll see you in two weeks!


POSTED: 01/07/15 at 8:04 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

Here’s to a happy, prosperous, healthy and arts-filled New Year!  Looking back on 2014, it was a successful year for the arts in Van Wert. The Van Wert County Foundation salvaged a Van Wert landmark by making the Armory into the new Wassenberg Art Center, providing our area with yet another cultural wonder to enjoy. The parking lot is now taking shape and this spring will sprout with greenery and landscaping, making it an attractive corner on one of our busiest highways running through town.

Next up is the Franklin Park project, which is already being anticipated by many for the benefits it will provide. I just returned from our Rotary Club meeting and heard how the YWCA is looking forward to utilizing it for summer and after-school programs.  What a wonderful project this is going to be for Van Wert, and its location is right in the heart of town. Thanks once again to The Van Wert County Foundation and the Scott Niswonger Foundation.

We had another successful Fountain Park Summer Music Series this past summer, thanks to The Van Wert County Foundation once again teaming with the Van Wert Parks Department. As I stand at First United Methodist Church and gaze toward the park, it amazes me how quickly winter turns to spring and then, suddenly, we are into another summer of concerts in the park.

I am off to New York City in search of talent for the coming summer concerts as well as next season at the Niswonger  (I hope the police are in a protective mood!  And you can bet at some point during my visit, I will stop a NYC cop and thank him or her for their service). When I return, it will be full speed ahead into planning for next season.

I am never short on ideas from interested patrons of the Fountain Park concerts or the Niswonger season. These are taken into consideration and mixed with some first-hand concerts I get to experience as well as advice I receive from other presenters and agents.  As a programming committee, we consider many aspects of most every concert that is programmed at the Niswonger.  We want to offer diversely entertaining and culturally enriching events we think people will either want to attend or at least give them a chance.  We have high principles we wish to uphold for the concerts we select, knowing the rich traditional values most in our community cherish.  Unfortunately, on occasion, we get disappointed by some things that are said from the stage. Obviously, we have little control of these situations. I appreciate that most understand this and give us credit for trying our best. We always will!

As we look at programming at the performing arts center, it is amazing at how many performers there are who would love to perform at our center. It is because of this that we rarely repeat performers. One of the most difficult aspects in programming is to find something that we think all will enjoy. It is virtually impossible to find something everyone will enjoy. But, as I have said many times over the past 12 years of writing this “Music in Van Wert” column, my greatest joy comes from introducing new performers to you and see how much you enjoy another new “musical” experience. Discovery keeps us new, fresh and alive!  Thank you for your openness to new things.

As we look into 2015 and beyond, I applaud so many of you for expanding your cultural and artistic tastes by attending so many of our concerts. The remainder of this Niswonger season offers everything from a world-class national Geographic photographer to comedians, Broadway shows, kids’ shows and music of all kind. Variety is the name of our game and we will continue to cross over many boundaries to expand the arts culture throughout the region.

Happy New Year to all! I look forward to a wonderful musical year ahead and most of all, sharing it with you, our cherished patrons!


POSTED: 12/31/14 at 7:06 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

On behalf of the Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation and our parent foundation, The Van Wert County Foundation, I am happy to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  It is because of so many of you local readers of this column, the Fountain Park Summer Music Series and especially the patrons of the Niswonger concerts, that the performing arts are thriving in Van Wert.  We couldn’t do this without you.

We have just about reached our halfway point in the Niswonger season, and now look forward to an exciting second half.  So many outstanding entertainers and musical artists are in our second half.  And don’t forget about the very interesting Polar Expressions by Paul Nicklen, one of National Geographic’s most celebrated, daring, and exciting photographers of our time.

We also have some exciting news we will be sharing with everyone very soon regarding one of our concerts. We have had to cancel one of our concerts, but we have some very exciting news to share about its replacement. Details to come as this develops. We will also be announcing a free concert coming in March for everyone to enjoy. Once again, details to come.

Thank you to all who attended this year’s performance of Handel’s Messiah.  A lot of work on our local level went into this professional performance and somehow makes it even more rewarding.  If you didn’t catch the performance, you may want to tune into our local public access TV Channel 6 on Time Warner Cable. They will be showing the performance throughout Christmas Eve and Christmas day.  It will be interspersed with some of the school Christmas concerts presented this past month.

It’s during special times like Christmas that we think of those who we work with and help make everything we do successful. There are so many volunteers who provide services in such a loyal way to the Niswonger. We can’t begin to thank all of them for their contributions. I would put their volunteerism up against any in the world.  We are truly blessed.

I have such an effective and quality staff that does all its work in a friendly and professional way, I once again feel blessed. These concerts don’t get picked, planned, promoted, sold and presented without this wonderful staff I have.

My Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation board is supportive, very caring, and dutiful in their service. I thank them and look forward to taking the activities at the Niswonger to an even higher level in the future with their support.

And all the activities fall under the umbrella of The Van Wert County Foundation. The board of directors, secretarial staff and our new executive secretary, Seth Baker, are committed to supporting our efforts of bringing the arts to the high level we in Van Wert, and throughout the region, have come to expect.

With this level of commitment and zest for the arts, we continue to flourish and look anxiously to the future for even better things to come.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. And a happy 2015!


POSTED: 12/24/14 at 7:15 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

I just finished listening to the recording of the Messiah performance we did this past Sunday.  When you are conducting, and probably singing and playing, you certainly get a rush of emotion during the performance.  As I have said many times, live music is always best!  Rarely do you still feel that rush of emotion when you return to listen to a recording. This time, however, it was there.

The orchestra played with impeccable intonation, great skill, and intense emotion, and the soloists were amazing.  What one might not expect would be for the chorus, since it is made up of mostly amateur singers (although we did have a few pros in there), to be so powerful, skillful and musical. For those of you who volunteered to sing in the chorus, I say a huge thank you and congratulations!  I honestly have recordings I wouldn’t trade for the performance we gave. We worked for five weeks on the choruses and were able to accomplish some very finite details and musical nuances that many choruses would never attain.  The incredibly gratifying thing is that most of these can be heard in the recording.

I tell my First U.M. Senior Choir that the details are what make the difference between an inspiring performance and one that is just “ho-hum.”  A listening audience may not know why they were inspired or not, but they do definitely know when they are or aren’t.  I felt the energy and emotion coming from the audience, even with my back to them the entire time.  I thank the chorus members for allowing us to accomplish just that- an inspiring performance.  It was their hard work, dedication and trust in my rehearsal technique that pulled it off.  Prayer always helps too!

It has been a busy musical holiday season in Van Wert with all the Niswonger performances to go with the many school concerts, church programs and other community events.  There is one more final Christmas concert that I think will be a beautiful culmination of the five holiday shows we have presented at the Niswonger.  A Solid Gold Christmas, starring Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. is this Friday at 7:30 p.m.  A friend of mine who saw this concert last year in Pennsylvania said it was wonderful.  So, if you would like one more holiday concert to move you into the final week of Christmas, this is it.  Get your tickets now or at the door.

After the Solid Gold Christmas concert, it is then time to be thinking of that special night, Christmas Eve.  I know it is a special night in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church in Van Wert as the Senior Choir leads the masses in a candlelight service of lessons & carols.  I would invite anyone looking for a place to bring in the Christ child on Christmas Eve to come to this special service with beautiful prelude music starting at 10:30 p.m., which precedes the lessons and carols at 11 p.m.

I know there are other churches in our community that also do beautiful services on Christmas Eve.  Check your local listings and don’t miss out on a chance to put the true meaning of Christmas into your holiday season this year.

For me, this year, the Great Amen Chorus and the Hallelujah! Chorus of Handel’s Messiah said it all.  Amen and Hallelujah!


POSTED: 12/17/14 at 6:48 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

With the Niswonger season reaching its halfway point, it’s good to know that there are many attractive and exciting concerts and shows still to come. Now in the thick of great holiday shows like Kenny Rogers, Holiday Ice Spectacular, and Solid Gold Christmas with Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr., it’s difficult to think ahead; however, with so many wonderful attractions, you might want to consider a gift card for that someone special to enjoy an upcoming Niswonger event.

Once we turn the page on 2014, we return on January 31 with a group that has caused a lot of excitement all over the country. Home Free, the Country music a capella sensation, has been sweeping the airwaves. Just today, I received an email link from a church musician in Nashville who wanted me to see Home Free’s rendition of “Angels We Have Heard on High.”  This person must have just discovered them. Although winners of NBC’s “The Sing Off,” they just now seem to be gathering national attention. This is all good news for us at the Niswonger.  The bad news for some is that, as I write this, we have four seats remaining for their concert.

Just before the Home Free concert, we have a National Geographic program called “Polar Obsessions” that the whole family will find fun and informative.  Paul Nicklen is the presenter, and one of National Geographic’s most prized photographers, with an unbelievable story to go with extremely rare Arctic pictures.

Then in February, we welcome one of the most funny comedians and actors of our time- Sinbad.  Since booking Sinbad, I have been watching more of him and just recently saw him co-star in the hilarious comedy Jingle all the Way.  My own kids enjoyed him in the movie, Good Burger with Kenan and Kell.  Sinbad is the son of a Baptist preacher and often calls upon real life experiences to make people laugh.

We also bring Broadway back to Van Wert with Cole Porter’s mega-hit Anything Goes.  This is a fun Sunday afternoon of Broadway on February 15 right here in Van Wert.  It also provides a great way to continue your Valentine’s weekend.  If you enjoy tap dancing, you’ll love Anything Goes! The show is selling fast, so don’t wait long on this one.

If swing, jump, jive and wail are your things, don’t miss Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on February 21.  This is another quick selling concert.  Other venues have told me it was one of their most enjoyable concerts of all time!

These are just a few of the upcoming attractions as we enter a new year at the Niswonger.  With a gift card from the Niswonger, your gift recipient is sure to find something they will enjoy and think of you fondly as they attend.  Gift cards can now be purchased online or by calling or dropping by the box office from noon-4 p.m. Monday-Friday.  During Christmas and New Year’s weeks, we will be open only Monday and Tuesday.

About 85 performers are looking forward to sharing their talents through Handel’s Messiah this Sunday night. Sixty chorus members, 20 orchestra members and five soloists will be joining their talents beginning at 7 p.m. this Sunday, December 14, in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church in Van Wert to perform the Christmas portion of this treasured work.  The chorus has worked very hard and hopes to perform for a full house.

The Van Wert County Foundation has underwritten much of the cost of this performance and only a free-will offering will be taken. Nothing says Christmas quite like Handel’s Messiah. After all, we wouldn’t have a Christmas (regardless of what some would have you believe) if it weren’t for the Messiah!


POSTED: 12/09/14 at 10:36 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

Tis’ the season! Christmas music is everywhere.  As I write this column, I am playing Bing Crosby, Natalie Cole (and her father of course!), Andy Williams and more.  It just seems like we can’t get enough holiday music during the season. The music basket is full of Christmas joy from now right up until Christmas.

I remember some eight or nine years ago when some of us were dreaming of a performing arts center in Van Wert, I wrote, “Wouldn’t it be real ‘cool’ if we didn’t have to drive 80-100 miles to see a Nutcracker performance at Christmas time?” Well, guess what? You don’t. The Ballet Theatre of Toledo is coming to Van Wert. You don’t have to go there. They are performing two shows for us this Saturday, December 6: one at 2 p.m. and another at 7:30 p.m.

Not only is it a wonderful benefit not having to drive a distance to introduce your family to The Nutcracker, but we also have afforded the opportunity for some of our local people to actually perform in the Nutcracker. You’ll just have to come and see who might appear on the stage. About 30 local dancers will join a troupe of nearly 80 from Toledo in this huge Nutcracker production, which includes gorgeous backdrops, costumes, dancing, a live pit orchestra, and many surprises!

We have sold nearly 1,600 tickets thus far, but with two performances, there is still room for you to join us and get your holiday off to a great start. And don’t forget to get here early enough to catch the Van Wert Area Boychoir sing in the lobby. They will also appear in the production of Nutcracker.

Our Nutcracker is actually sandwiched between two Van Wert High School Christmas concerts; one by the band on December 4 and the other by the choir on December 8.  You might want to catch their performances at the Niswonger. I know they have some surprises in store for you too!

Following the choir concert, “A Peter White Christmas” comes to the Niswonger on December 9. Jazz at its very finest will be on display for this Christmas show, which also includes saxophonist Mindi Abair and trumpeter Rick Braun. Last year’s Jazz Christmas show was a tremendous success with Dave Koz. We look for another tremendous show with guitarist Peter White and friends.

And don’t forget our very own presentation of Handel’s Messiah on December 14 at First United Methodist Church in Van Wert. The chorus has been rehearsing for a month and is about ready to peak.  We had a great rehearsal last Sunday and are about ready to add the orchestra and soloists for this Sunday 7 p.m. performance. Watch for a media release of the outstanding soloists we have this year.  It will be coming your way next week.

As Andy Williams is now singing on my Pandora station, “It’s the holiday season!”  We have you covered this year with Christmas music to fill your hearts with joy and peace!


POSTED: 12/02/14 at 10:04 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

For one day only, Van Wert will boast of its very own ice arena. On Monday, December 15, the Central Insurance Stage in the Niswonger Performing Arts Center will transform into an ice arena. It’s the magnificent “Holiday Ice Spectacular” that will perform for one night of Christmas fun and fascination!

I think many are fascinated to see how we can turn our stage into a winter holiday scenic ice arena. The best way to find out is to attend this joyful and fun Christmas variety show.  Many of the performers have credits from TV, cruise ships, theme parks, Disney, and champion ice-skating shows and competitions. From what I have seen, it looks like the show is a perfect family Christmas show, which will appeal to children as well as adults. You will enjoy the color, costumes, dancing, music, comedy and much more!

In case you are wondering, they use a special blend of synthetic ice that does not damage stages. So don’t expect an exceptionally cool house when you arrive.  And speaking of your arrival, we are planning some special Christmas music lobby entertainment at each of our Christmas shows this year.  We want to make your trip to our Niswonger show extra special in every way from the time you arrive until you leave.

There are currently 98 seats remaining for our “Holiday Ice Spectacular Show.”  So, I’m not sure there will be any tickets remaining at the door.  I wouldn’t wait for this one!  Call the box office at 419.238.NPAC (6722) or purchase online at

Speaking of tickets, there are many more who would like to attend the “Kenny Rogers Christmas & Hits Show” coming to the Niswonger on December 12.  We are sold out, so if you have any tickets you cannot use, please let us know and we might be able to put you in contact with some interested buyers.  We would hate for seats to not be filled, while people are waiting to attend.

Next up at the Niswonger is “The Nutcracker” for two performances on December 6.  The Ballet Theatre of Toledo is preparing, as we speak, for performances this Thanksgiving weekend at the beautiful historic Valentine Theatre in Toledo.  After they finish their Toledo run in their home theatre, they will prepare to bring it on the road for two performances on December 6 in Van Wert.  It’s a huge production that includes a full orchestra in the Koch Orchestra Pit.  Many performances are done with recorded music.  We wanted to bring it to you with live music!  There will also be some surprises for you to look for in our Van Wert production, so don’t miss it!  A total of 1,400 tickets are already sold for these two performances.  Bring the family and introduce your children and grandchildren to the land of Sugar Plum Fairies and Nutcrackers. It’s a Christmas tradition, which needs to be shared!

Before we get fully immersed into the Christmas season, I want to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. You are among my blessings for the season and I look forward to seeing you at some of the upcoming shows, meant to put joy into your holidays!

Here is the full list of Christmas Shows associated with the Niswonger and The Van Wert County Foundation.

  • December 6 — The Nutcracker, The Ballet Theatre of Toledo, 2/7:30 p.m.
  • December 9 – A Peter White Christmas: A Jazzy Christmas, 7:30 p.m.
  • December 12 – Kenny Rogers Hits & Christmas, 7:30 p.m.
  • December 14 – A community Messiah performance at First United Methodist Church, 7 p.m.
  • December 15 – Holiday Ice Spectacular, 7:30 p.m.
  • December 19 — Solid Gold Christmas with Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr., 7:30 p.m.


POSTED: 11/26/14 at 7:26 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

With Thanksgiving Day quickly approaching and the first significant snow fall, we turn our attention to the Christmas season.  Christmastime is always extra special at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center and this year will be no exception.  We have five different concerts during the Holiday Season and six actual performances when you figure in two Nutcracker productions.

Kids and Christmas are made for each other and we are about to create some special memories for some local kids and their parents and grandparents.  The Ballet Theatre of Toledo will be moving into Van Wert in the near future for two performances of the beloved Nutcracker ballet on December 6.  We like working with this outstanding organization because they give us the opportunity to involve local children in the performance. Auditions were held awhile back and there will be numerous local dancers filling the stage. You may not recognize them under their mice costumes, etc., but it will be a neat experience for these youngsters.  Some will even get to show off their dancing skills.  Additionally, our Van Wert Area Boychoir will be part of the performance, as well as sing for you in the lobbies before the performances.

As I said, we have scheduled two performances; one at 2 p.m. and the other at 7:30 p.m.  We already have 1,300 seats filled, so in essence we are starting to fill our second show.  Tickets can be purchased at the box office at 419.238.NPAC (6722) or online at  This is a holiday tradition you won’t want to miss!

Then on December 12, Country, TV, movie and Pop Music star Kenny Rogers brings his “Christmas & Hits through the Years” to our stage. Five local children were selected to perform with Kenny and his guest, Linda Davis. They were selected from 26 who auditioned, including many who were worthy; however, only five could be selected. You will recognize the kids even though they will be dressed in their finest Christmas outfits. What an experience for these kids to perform on stage with a legend like Kenny Rogers!

Other Christmas concerts coming to the Niswonger this season are “A Peter White Christmas” with Rick Braun and Mindi Abair on December 9. If you like a jazzy Christmas, this one is for you!  One that has a lot of people talking is the “Holiday Ice Spectacular” coming to our stage on December 15.  It’s almost sold out, so don’t delay your ticket buying if you want to see how we turn the Central Insurance Stage into an ice rink with world-class skaters, entertainment, comedy and music.  We close the Christmas season on December 19 with what I am told is an absolutely beautiful Christmas concert featuring Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.  This married couple has made its mark on the music world on its own, as well as part of the famous Fifth Dimension. They even had their own TV show at one time.

As I said, Christmas is always special at the Niswonger. We will have the halls decked with beautiful new decorations and you can expect some pre-concert lobby music to help put you in the Christmas spirit.  You just never know what you might experience at a Niswonger performance, especially at the Holiday Season!  Some might even find their very own kid on stage!


POSTED: 11/19/14 at 7:45 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert