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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Dec. 19, 2014


Music in Van Wert

By: Paul Hoverman


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

Before this past week, I spoke about the Dallas Brass and how I thought so many would enjoy their performance.  Well, this past Friday, they came to Van Wert and not only surpassed my expectations in performance, but also exceeded my wishes for inspiration.

Over 800 people made their way to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center, many not knowing what to expect. I know this from the comments people made to me following the performance. Regardless of what I say, most are just like Stephen, they need to see it for themselves. I understand. Now, they are believers!

How could five brass instrumentalists, a drummer and a vocalist give such an entertaining performance for the most common of persons to enjoy? Well, I could talk about repertoire, skill, talent and so forth, but I think the real story is found in the love they have to share music with others. And share they did!

During the day, members of Dallas Brass spent time with students from Van Wert and Lincolnview schools. Founder, leader and trombonist Michael Levine has such a passion for sharing his love of music with young people in particular. As the band directors can attest, there just isn’t enough time in the day for him to share his love and passion of music with students. If every teacher had such a passion, it’s hard to say how far a young person might be able to go.

One particular student’s mother was so moved by the work and attention given that she sent a message to Dallas Brass thanking them for accomplishing what she had been attempting to accomplish for two years with her daughter. The daughter wanted to give up on music, but is now motivated to continue and excel. Levine is working on a program to reach young students across America through a program he calls “Harmony Bridge.” It involves students, teachers, community, retirement communities, and service organizations. I am very excited about it. I have a feeling you’re going to hear more about it in the near future.

This is what motivates me to do what I do. This is also what motivates those of us associated with the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. Our mission is to entertain, educate and inspire.  With Dallas Brass, we hit a home run with all three!

A sold-out house will welcome Country Music Superstar Josh Turner this Saturday at the NPAC.  We have been sold out for nearly three months for this one. For those fortunate enough to attend, you will be in for quite a production.  I’m sure you will enjoy it.

More inspiration will be spread when five talented children from our area between the ages of 6 and 10 will appear on the Kenny Rogers Christmas Show on December 12. Auditions were just held and there were 26 beautiful and talented boys and girls who showed up. What an opportunity for five exceptionally talented children from our area. You will see and hear them perform on the show. How many cities of 11,000 people can hold auditions to appear on stage with a multi-Grammy Award nominee and winner, movie star, and Country Music Hall of Fame singer such as Kenny Rogers?

We add to that the many local dancers and singers who will participate in the Ballet Theatre of Toledo’s production of The Nutcracker this Christmas season on December 6.  We also had our first chorus rehearsal for the December 14 Messiah performance. You are still welcome to join us this Sunday from 3-5 p.m. at First United Methodist Church for our next rehearsal.

It’s no wonder we say, “Inspiration is Alive!” at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.


POSTED: 11/11/14 at 9:32 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

It is time to start thinking and acting on booking artists for a whole new season of 2015-16.  As I do this, I start getting bombarded with emails, messages, and suggestions of all kinds.  While recently looking at a message and doing some research on You Tube, I came across a performance of “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables by Alfie Boe and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I remember watching this performance when it originally aired on TV. It was mesmerizing! I then wondered how it compared with J. Mark McVey, whom we just had in concert at the Niswonger.  I came across a performance he did at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.  Both were different from each other, but very inspiring.  I also found Mark singing in Crystal Cathedral in California and it was very inspiring.

Inspiration is one of the attributes I value the most in music.  Music can inspire when words often fail.  I believe this is why God gave humankind the gift of music.

This Friday, we have another concert that I guarantee will inspire on many fronts, but also offers education and entertainment.  The famous Dallas Brass will be giving a concert at 7:30 p.m., will be educating high school musicians in a master class during the day and then rehearse with them later in the afternoon in preparation for the evening concert.  High school band students from Lincolnview, Parkway and Van Wert will be participating and featured on the concert. I can guarantee inspiration and I hope there will be some good education to go with the day. If you are able to come to the evening concert, I can also guarantee you will be entertained.

We then return to the concert stage on Saturday, November 15, with Country Superstar Josh Turner.  For those who love country music, this is a season highlight.  The concert has been sold out for months and a full house is expected. Entertainment will abound, as I understand it is a huge production with creative staging, video and props.

Following the Josh Turner concert, we enter into our Christmas season of concerts and they are always inspiring and entertaining. First on the docket is the cherished Nutcracker ballet with the Ballet Theatre of Toledo. Once again, we have offered the opportunity to our young people in the area to be a part of this production. Behind all the make-up and costumes, you may recognize a few young dancers from our area, as well as hearing our very own Van Wert Area Boychoir as part of the performance. Once again, musical memories for these young people!  Come early to the Nutcracker performances (2 and 7:30 p.m.) on December 6 and you can also enjoy beautiful Christmas music sung in the Grand Lobby by the boychoir.

Want more inspiration? Messiah rehearsals begin this Sunday from 3-5 p.m. at First United Methodist Church in Van Wert.  If you enjoy singing and want to make your Christmas extra special by joining in voice with other singers, instrumentalists and soloists, consider joining us in the chorus.  We have music and a seat in the chorus waiting for you.  The Messiah performance will be Sunday, December 14 at 7 p.m. at First U.M.  This is a Van Wert County Foundation sponsored event biennially and always highly anticipated by many.

I look forward to seeing you Friday night for this special evening with the Dallas Brass, local band students and many, many surprises!  Truly an evening of inspiration, education and entertainment.


POSTED: 11/05/14 at 6:51 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

It was September 22, 2007. We were preparing to open our first complete season at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio.  To help us open the season, we invited the famed Dallas Brass to Van Wert to give a concert, teach a master class, and share the stage with over 150 high school musicians.

I still remember the night. No one really knew quite what to expect, but hundreds of concert-goers flocked to the Niswonger for an evening of nice music. What ensued was a magical night where students were making statements like, “I have never had so much fun in my life!”  “I never thought I would enjoy this concert that much.” And “This was really cool tonight!”  After the concert, I remember stopping by our local Dairy Queen to find kids there being treated to ice cream by members of the Dallas Brass.

Adults at the concert were standing on their feet applauding not only the kids’ performance, but also the exciting music of Dallas Brass, complete with horns and a drummer who took a solo where most of us have never been before. The night was filled with magic and pageantry. It touched one gentleman so much that we now will be honoring him seven years later.

The Dallas Brass

The Dallas Brass

Dallas Brass is coming back to the Central Insurance Stage of the Niswonger on November 7 to help us honor a special person, as well as create more memories for high school students and concert attendees.  Don’t miss this special evening.  Get your tickets now.  If you want a little sneak preview of some of the music of Dallas Brass, go to our brand new website: NPACVW.ORG and click on the picture of Dallas Brass and play their video.

Many people have asked what kind of concert to expect. The best answer I can give is “enjoyable!” This time around, Dallas Brass has added a superb vocalist, Bryan Anthony.  Bryan is one of the most sought-after jazz singers in our country today. Much in the style of Frank Sinatra, Anthony has sung with all the Big Bands like Glenn Miller and, most recently, is on tour with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. He also sings nightclubs and has recorded with Grammy Award-winning jazz artists. Add to Anthony’s vocals the superb artistry of Dallas Brass and a drummer and you have an exceptional evening of musical entertainment.

One of Dallas Brass’ biggest motivators is music education and inspiring young musicians to enjoy music. They will be working with high school musicians from Lincolnview, Van Wert and Parkway during the day in a workshop. They have also provided music to these musicians for their bands to join them in a huge patriotic salute on stage with over a hundred musicians.  It will once again be magical. Michael Levine, founder and trombonist with Dallas Brass, guarantees it!  He and his fellow musicians of Dallas Brass so much believe in what they do that he personally has called and talked with the local band directors to get them excited about the performance.

Michael and Dallas Brass are true ambassadors for music in people’s lives. He knows about our special people we wish to recognize and so much appreciates the influence their 2007 concert had on their lives. They want to personally help us recognize someone who will help perpetuate live music in the lives of people for years to come in Van Wert and the surrounding area.

I could go on and on about this special evening, but I don’t want to give away too much.  I will just encourage you to be there on Friday night, November 7, at 7:30 p.m.  There will be electricity in the air, although the music you hear will be acoustic. Tickets are available on line at NPACVW.ORG or at the Niswonger box office Monday through Friday from noon to 4 p.m.  I look forward to seeing you there!


POSTED: 10/29/14 at 5:48 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

Although I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, it just won’t leave my mind. One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is to meet artists and performers who are sometimes world-renown and yet you find out are just like you and me.  Case in point: J. Mark McVey.

This past Saturday night, the Niswonger hosted “Inspiration of Broadway.”  It featured Ernie Haase & Signature Sound as well as Mr. McVey. Ernie Haase & Signature Sound is one of the most dynamic and well known of the contemporary Southern Gospel Music quartets. Mark McVey, on the other hand, has made his mark in the entertainment world through Broadway.  Although he has performed many roles in Broadway shows, the one he is most known for is Jean Valjean in Les Miserables.  He performed 3,268 times as the lead in this blockbuster show.

Until I heard Mark with Signature Sound this past Saturday, I felt this was an awkward marriage of two artists and artistic styles: Southern Gospel and Broadway.  For those fortunate enough to hear the concert this past Saturday, I think we all became believers. And this leads me into J. Mark McVey.  Mark is a believer on many fronts.

After so much success on “The Great White Way,” one might think McVey would be caught up in himself and his gifted abilities. To the contrary, I found Mark to be very personable and very approachable.  His father and a family friend traveled from Charleston, West Virginia, Mark’s hometown, to see his son perform at the Niswonger. After visiting with them for a while, we ended up sharing a post-concert meal at our local Bob Evans Restaurant, which by the way is now staying open late for our concert nights.

Here we were, eating and talking about music, entertainment, and life with Jean Valjean and his father in Bob Evans Restaurant.  After sharing stories, one thing led to another and this guy who has shared the stage and TV with some of the biggest stars of today, agreed to come to church the next morning and even sing for our congregation.  The Inspiration of Broadway was coming to First United Methodist to share in music and message.

Mark explained to my wife and me that he had found Christ through his experience of performing the lead role in Les Miserables 3,268 times.  I can only imagine that one would become that person after so many performances. He explained that the message of Les Miserables is one of love and redemption, and one that spoke deeply to his spirit.  He now loves to sing and share his testimony in churches whenever he can. It was obvious that he also just loves to worship, as he was an active worshipper in our service.  What an inspiration he was to those attending First United Methodist Church!  What an inspiration he was for those attending the Niswonger on Saturday night! His signature song, “Bring Him Home” was absolutely entrancing and emotional, especially for those familiar with the story of Les Miserables.

It is always a pleasure to get to meet performers who are nice people. It was a pleasure and an honor to get to know the real person behind Jean Valjean. Nice people do finish first!  And in my book, J. Mark McVey is first-rate in many ways.


POSTED: 10/21/14 at 11:13 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

The biennial performance of Handel’s Messiah will be Sunday, December 14, at 7 p.m. at First United Methodist Church of Van Wert. This is a Christmas tradition that dates well into the 1900s.  Sponsored by The Van Wert County Foundation, in cooperation with First United Methodist Church, this is a Van Wert tradition that continues to pack the sanctuary each year it is performed.

A volunteer community chorus is being recruited, which will start rehearsals November 9 and continue Sunday afternoons from 3-5 p.m. right up to the December 14 performance.  In the past, we have had choruses of 75-80 singers, which is about the maximum number we can accommodate. The performance is with a professional chamber orchestra and soloists. The soloists are already committed and are looking forward to their performance in Van Wert. I will be excited to announce them as we draw closer to the performance date.

If you have ever considered singing in our Messiah chorus, I encourage you to join us this year.  We are filled with accomplished singers, as well as those who thought they could never do it, but have since proven they could. Many singers have their own copy of the music (Schirmer edition), but we also have copies available for those needing them.  So, please don’t let that be a deterrent.  We welcome you if you like to sing and can sing in tune and on pitch.  It’s truly amazing what one can accomplish when singing with friends.  And what better way to make friends then to sing with them!  As the old adage says, “Talk with me and I’m your friend; sing with me and I’m your brother (or sister).”

As director and organizer, I look forward to welcoming back many of our previous singers and hope they invite new singers to join us this year.  We will have just five rehearsals this year, but I am confident we can accomplish our musical goal in providing an inspiring chorus to, in the words of Handel, himself, “not only entertain them, but to make them better!”

Consider joining us this year.  I am confident that most anyone who has participated in the past would concur, it is a real uplifting and inspiring way to make your Christmas season extra special and meaningful.  There truly is no other feeling than the power and inspiration one feels when singing the “Amen” chorus as it rises to a tumultuous and powerful ending; and then topped only by the victorious “Hallelujah!” chorus.

Remember, the the first rehearsal is Sunday, November 9, from 3-5 p.m. in the First U.M. sanctuary. Tell a friend, bring a friend.

The beginning of the Niswonger Grand Series kicks off this Saturday with “Inspiration of Broadway” featuring Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, along with special guest star J. Mark McVey. McVey has starred in many Broadway productions as well as playing the role of Jean Valjean in London’s performance of Les Miserables.  His incredible voice, along with Signature Sound, will provide for the perfect opening to a blockbuster season at the Niswonger.

A few tickets remain if you would like to get a piece of the PAC action at the Niswonger.  We look forward to seeing you for this inspirational concert that will have you wanting to sing along all night long.  But I have the feeling once you hear these incredible voices, you’ll just want to listen.  It begins at 7:30 p.m., with lobby doors opening at 6:30 p.m. and performance hall doors opening at 7 that evening.

Just a note to let you know that the Olate Dogs performance on November 1 is nearly sold out. About 50 seats remain to see these loveable and talented dogs who won “America’s Got Talent” in 2012. Kids will love it and adults will be amazed!  Get your ticket now for this Saturday afternoon matinee.  Remember, this one starts at 3 p.m.


POSTED: 10/15/14 at 5:38 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert