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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017


Music in Van Wert

By: Paul Hoverman


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

I have spent much of today writing a story about the history of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. It will be published in a brochure we will present during our Ten Year Gala Celebration Dinner and Program on April 1 at Willow Bend Country Club. We have five seats remaining for this memorable event, which will precede our gala concert with Bernadette Peters and The Boston Pops Orchestra. About 300 seats remain for this momentous concert; I so hope you can join us!

As I began writing the story about the history of the Niswonger, I had a difficult time convincing myself it has actually been 10 years. I looked into my files and it seemed I had just started writing the tabs for each folder. I was taken back to the original announcement banquet held in the old VWHS gym, when Scott Niswonger announced he was donating $2 million to kick off the campaign. This was May 3, 2003. Little did any of us realize what we were in store for?

So many people, organizations, businesses, and foundations along the way deserve the credit for what we now have.  We call it the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio because we hoped to impact the entire northwest region of Ohio. Little did any of us realize we would someday be bringing people from literally all over the United States to see entertainment in our little city of Van Wert, Ohio.

This little idea which began in the minds of a few people nearly 14 years ago has grown into one of the gems of the Midwest, bringing performers from all over the world. I could share more, but I will save the entire story for the gala attendees on April 1.

What I will be so proud of is the number of people attending our gala concert who have helped shape our performing arts center. I have agents who have played valuable team roles in getting entertainment to our facility. We will have alumni and others who were so instrumental in dreaming, planning, and raising the funds for the project.

I realize our gala concert is a high priced ticket for some, but when you celebrate Ten Years of Wow! once, you want to do it in a big way. I never would have dreamed we could put a concert like this together. Thanks to (once again) Scott Niswonger, The Van Wert County Foundation, Central Insurance Company, and support from The Kenn-Feld Group, we have accomplished this huge event.

Our gala will be a dress-up event. We are encouraging tuxes, formal gowns, dresses, and suits as the accepted attire. It is not often we get all dressed up and experience a big city night out right here in Van Wert. We will do it once every 10 years. April 1 is the occasion.

Before we arrive at our gala on April 1, we look forward to some exciting shows happening right now.  This Sunday afternoon and evening, we move another big show into our house — Broadway’s 42nd Street.  It is a huge four-truck show with lots of glamour, glitter, dancing and music you will recognize and love.  We have two shows: one at 2 p.m. and the other at 7:30 p.m.  With the two shows, there are still some tickets remaining. Call (419.238.6722), go online or drop by the box office to get your tickets. You can even get tickets at the door one hour before the show.

We’re just getting heated up as we move through the winter and look forward to spring. Lots of other wonderful shows and concerts are coming as we move closer to our April 1 gala celebration!


POSTED: 02/07/17 at 10:49 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

As I look over the remainder of our Niswonger season, there are some concerts and shows that really stand out to the common person. Shows such as The Time Jumpers with Vince Gill, Broadway’s 42nd Street and Rain — a Tribute to the Beatles, David Phelps, and REO Speedwagon are widely recognizable and in great demand.

What I look at are those shows that are not as readily recognizable, but we felt were worthy of bringing to our audience.  The first one is Artrageous on Saturday, March 11.  The more I watch the promo videos of this show, the more excited I am to see it.  It is going to be very interactive and entertaining.  The performers really like to interact with the audience both in the lobby and during the show.  This is the one where artists create paintings on stage when the live music is being performed on the same stage.

Another concert coming in March is Broadway & Beyond.  This is a concert I have helped create and features J. Mark McVey and Heartland Sings, out of Fort Wayne. J. Mark is an outstanding singer from Broadway, best known as Jean Val jean from Les Miserables.  His voice is tremendous, but equally tremendous is that he is a wonderful person!  That speaks volumes in my mind.  He will be teaming with Heartland Sings, which is a vocal ensemble of four professional lead singers and a chorus of approximately 40 singers.  We have added to this an ensemble of strings, winds, piano and drums to create a concert of American songs that you will know and love.  This concert is on Saturday, March 18 at 7:30 pm and is part of our Community Concert Series with single tickets now on sale.  Our concert at the Niswonger will be a world premiere in hopes of taking it on tour after our performance.

The last sleeper show is another one I helped construct using two very entertaining performers: Mutts Gone Nuts and Robert Post Comedy Theater.  It’s an interesting story as to how this show came together.  A year ago as I was attending a booking conference in New York, I was talking to an agent I have known for some time and we were talking about Mutts Gone Nuts.  At the same time, a favorite performer of mine happened to walk by.  It was Robert Post.  We have had him at the Marsh Auditorium and people thoroughly enjoyed him.  He cracks people up with his physical comedy.

Robert Post is a crazy and wacky guy who doesn’t think like most of us. I guess that’s what makes him so funny.  One thing led to another and before I knew it, I got the two together and we started talking about putting both of them on the same show.  It was the marriage of two performers: funny, entertaining and delightful dogs doing amazing tricks and stunts, and a wacky, crazy physical comedian who I swear sometimes thinks more like a dog than a human.  If one is good, two is outstanding!  I wanted this show to be one that would be entertaining for kids and adults alike.  I know we have accomplished this with Mutts Gone Nuts and Robert Post together.  You won’t see them together probably anywhere else than in Van Wert.  This show is a Sunday afternoon at 3:00 pm on April 30, making it perfect for kids and elderly.  We all need to laugh regardless of our age … and you will … guaranteed!

This is also on our Community Concert Series with single tickets now on sale starting at just $10, $15 and $20. I wanted these shows to be affordable for the entire family. That’s the nice thing about some of the lesser known shows, you can take a chance on them and discover the great entertainment for a much lower cost.  We aim to meet the needs and desires of all.

So, I encourage you to not judge a book by its cover. These three shows might look like sleepers on the schedule of big show stoppers, but if you give them a chance, I think you’ll be thanking me.


POSTED: 01/31/17 at 5:22 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

Artrageous is a term we in Van Wert have heard for the past decade or so. Some time ago, Main Street Van Wert teamed with Wassenberg Art Center to create a summer event featuring artists and crafters who displayed their work outside on Main Street under canopies. This event eventually merged with the successful Peony Festival weekend held the first weekend of June. This festival event continues today and has teamed up with The Van Wert County Foundation’s first summer concert in Fountain Park.

So when I saw the name Artrageous come across my computer, it caught my attention. This time, however, it was actually a concert with that name. As I watched the promotion video of the performance, I thought it was an amazing show which combined visual and performing arts. I fell in love with the idea of bringing visual arts to life through music. We booked it for the Niswonger Performing Arts Center and it will be coming to Van Wert on Saturday, March 11.

To help you understand what this concert event will be, imagine an artist creating a masterpiece before your eyes in mere moments.  With a palette that also mixes captivating vocals and intricate choreography.  Artrageous takes audiences on a one-of-a-kind visual journey packed with wild inspiration, creativity, and fun. The Artrageous artists, musicians, singers, and dancers pay tribute to a variety of art forms, pop icons, and musical genres throughout the evening. The result is a uniquely entertaining show culminating in a gallery of fabulous finished paintings. This music-based troupe has performed for the likes of Sir Richard Branson, Steve Forbes, and General Colin Powell at more than 2,000 events all over the world, from Paris to Thailand.

If you are in attendance, you will see accomplished artists creating paintings on large canvases placed on the stage behind accomplished performers playing and singing music of that artist who is being painted.  It could be anyone from John Lennon to Elvis and Ray Charles to Frank Sinatra, just to name a few.  By the time the performers are done singing the song, we will have a finished painting right before our very eyes.  You may even have the chance to bid on the paintings after the concert as you can take an up close look at the finished product.

I think it will be an exciting event that marries two forms of art: performing and visual. If you really want to get an idea of how this can happen, take a look at the promo video posted on our Niswonger web site: NPACVW.ORG. Go to “tickets and events” and then click on “video” under the picture for Artrageous. The video will show you how it is truly art and music gone wild. The show is interactive, as the audience is given their own little finger lights to add to the light show on stage with the dancers, musicians, and artists.  This could be the most amazing and fun show of the season at the Niswonger!

Quotes about this show have been, “Go See the Show!” CBS.  “You’re the Best!” Harrison Ford.  “Absolutely Awesome!” ESPN and “World Class Entertainment” Sir Richard Branson.

Don’t miss this interactive and entertaining show! Tickets are on sale in the box office and on-line right now.  And you can get in on the fun starting at just $15. Check out the video and, if you do, I will see you at the show on Saturday, March 11, starting at 7:30 p.m. The Niswonger is pleased to be teaming with Wassenberg Art Center to bring art alive for everyone to enjoy.


POSTED: 01/27/17 at 8:19 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

I was recently on Broadway in New York, and although I wasn’t dancing, I sure saw some exciting dancing on stage at the New Amsterdam Theater. This theater is actually on 42nd Street in Manhattan in the middle of the Broadway section of Midtown. We saw the show, Aladdin, and it was wonderful!

Of course, most are familiar with the story of Aladdin. This Broadway troupe really brought it to life with a tremendous amount of energy, mystical theatrics, and a scene that made me think of the upcoming Broadway show we have coming to Van Wert on February 12.  We really enjoyed the entire show, but the one scene that brought the house down was a tap dance scene right before intermission. It was an amazing array of talented dancers in beautiful costumes tap dancing in perfect harmony to exciting music.

Now, maybe it was because we were actually on 42nd Street, or maybe it was because of the dancing, but I thought about how amazing some of the scenes will be on stage at the Niswonger. From what I have seen and been told, our production of 42nd Street will have even more dancers than we were witnessing with Aladdin. Wow! It should be spectacular! And you will recognize the music from 42nd Street, with well-known tunes such as “We’re in the Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Shuffle off to Buffalo,” and, of course, “42nd Street,” as well as many others.

I have not seen this musical, but am familiar with so much of the music. It was actually playing a revival on Broadway in 2001 when our First UM Choir visited New York City. Many of our choir members went to a performance of 42nd Street and loved it. Because of three young children at the time, we went to Beauty and the Beast.  Now, I am looking forward to 42nd Street.  I would never have believed at the time that this same show would someday be playing in Van Wert, Ohio!

We have two performances on Sunday, February 12, one at 2 p.m. and the other at 7:30 that evening.  It looks like it’s a good thing we have two shows, as we are already at 1,500 tickets sold and we could only fit 1,200 in one show. Get your tickets now for this exciting show, featuring dance and music like you’ve probably never before seen.

The Time Jumpers, featuring Vince Gill and others, on February 4 is sold out. We are holding some performer holds that may come available closer to the concert, so you might check with the box office as we draw closer. For those of you with younger children or grandchildren, don’t forget about “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” on February 25. We have two shows for this one, too; one at 11 a.m. and the other at 2 p.m. This is a wonderful PBS kids show coming to life on our stage.

We have been rather quiet during January, as far as shows go, but my staff has been working hard at making sure the second half of our season is a spectacular one. We’ll top it all off with a big crescendo leading up to our Ten Year Gala with Bernadette Peters and The Boston Pops Orchestra on April 1. Tickets are now on sale for this big celebration. Don’t delay, as seats are filling quickly with people from all over the country! This gala concert we have put together was the talk among agents all over New York City while I was attending the APAP Conference last week. We are sandwiched between Chicago and Indianapolis with our Saturday night gala. I hope you can join us!


POSTED: 01/18/17 at 6:59 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

As we approach the end to another year, it’s time to look over the progress of the performing arts business. We sometimes don’t like to think of presenting concerts as a business, but it certainly is one that requires a lot of planning, accounting, and strategy. That is part of what takes up a good deal of my time as executive director and president of the Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation.

We have seen tremendous growth over our 10 years of operation at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. When I think of our rather meager beginnings, it amazes me where we currently are. We had a partial year of operation in 2007 with an operating budget of around $150,000. I had a staff of two full-time and one part-time employees. We were reimbursing the owners of the building — Van Wert City Schools — $100 a month in utility use. This has now increased from $1,200 a year to nearly $40,000 a year for utilities, repairs, maintenance, supplies, inspection fees, and about anything else that happens in the Performing Arts Center portion of the building.

I only list this information to inform you, the public, where your ticket dollars, advertising dollars, sponsorship dollars, and other contributions go. As with any other business, there are costs involved in the operation. We are a non-profit organization, which means we aren’t out to make profits for our own personal gain, but we do need to meet our needs. And as we grow, so do our needs.

Our staff has now grown to five full- or nearly full-time, employees. That is still a meager staff to handle all the business we now find ourselves in. We do employ and use auxiliary staff such as bookkeepers, custodians, and lighting and technical people, as needed. Our parent organization, The Van Wert County Foundation, has been a valuable supporter in many ways. We are also so fortunate to have many kind hearted volunteers who enjoy serving and help us control our costs. I’ve said many times we just can’t thank them enough.

In all this, I have yet to even mention the cost of concert fees and other associated costs. Our concert fees have increased from $100,000 to over $700,000 per year (season). We have responded to public demands and desires, the need to respond to competition, and our own desire to meet our mission statement of providing a premier performing arts center for the region to enjoy. The cost of concerts many people desire to see increases our presenting fees seemingly each year. As an example, the last Broadway show we presented cost over $15,000 just in labor.

Managing the business of performing arts requires vision, fiscal responsibility, and sometimes restraint. We are so fortunate to have a crème de la crème gala concert to celebrate our 10th anniversary. It was a dream to have someone like Bernadette Peters for our gala, but then to team her with The Boston Pops, directed by Keith Lockhart, is simply amazing. Only because of the support of the three big sponsors: Central Insurance, Scott Niswonger, and The Van Wert County Foundation, along with support from the Kenn-Feld Group, are we able to bring such an attraction to Van Wert.

Tickets will go on sale beginning January 4 for the public to join us in this huge gala celebration. I hope many of you can join us for this once in a lifetime (well, at least once in 10 years’) experience. Get ready for January 4 and be among the first to claim your seats for this gala concert celebration. Sales begin at noon that day. We promise to make it a night we will all remember!

As we enter this new year, our goal is to provide enriching opportunities through the performing arts that will bring happiness to you and your friends throughout the year. Look for us to continue to grow, with restraint and fiscal responsibility, in a business that is exciting for the whole region. Happy New Year to all of you and may you be blessed with music throughout the year!


POSTED: 12/27/16 at 6:51 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

I just finished listening to a video clip the Niswonger marketing team sent out, announcing that Wednesday (December 21) is the single release of tickets for “Broadway & Beyond” featuring J. Mark McVey.  If you can take about four minutes of your time, I encourage you to click on that video clip and listen to Mark sing “Mary, Did You Know?”  It is an exhilarating rendition of this contemporary Christmas song asking the question of Mother Mary if she really realized the significance of what the birth of her son, Jesus, really meant. Mark really nails it musically and emotionally!

From this point, I could go off onto a sermon, or talk about the musical aspect of the performance.  I think I’ll leave the sermon to a trained minister. J. Mark McVey is not only an amazing singer who gained international notoriety as Jean Valjean in Broadway’s Les Miserables, but also a tremendous gentleman.

christmas-at-the-niswonger-copyI got to know Mark when he first visited the Niswonger in 2014 while performing with Ernie Haase & Signature Sound. It seemed like a rather unusual combination of Southern Gospel and Broadway, but it sure worked!  I was blown away musically, but also inspired by Mark after the concert. You see, Mark’s elderly father, along with a friend, drove up for the concert in Van Wert from West Virginia. We all met at Bob Evans after the concert for some coffee and a piece of pie. One thing lead to another and, before long, we were talking about how Mark’s father still sings in a church choir and how pleased they are when Mark returns to sing with them. It wasn’t long before Mark’s father told Mark he should sing at my church the next morning. I thought Mark would say he needed to rest before flying out, but to my pleasant surprise, Mark said, “I would be delighted and honored.”

So, the next morning, I just told our pastor at First UM that I had a special surprise for everyone. Mark is a truly Christian man and had a special song with accompaniment on a ZIP drive that went perfectly with our minister’s message that morning.  What a blessing!  Not only did Mark share a solo with us, but I was short on tenors that morning and Mark volunteered to pitch in and sing tenor with our choir. What an honor!

I have met many professional performers over the years in this business, but I don’t recall ever meeting someone so willing to share not only his musical message, but also give his life testimony.  It’s a little risky from a professional standpoint to do what he did that morning, but I gained so much respect and admiration for J. Mark McVey that morning that I booked him again. Actually, Mark called me up while I was grocery shopping in the Marsh Supermarket. We made plans right there in the grocery!

The result of that shopping trip and conversation led to the show “Broadway & Beyond” with the Heartland Chamber Chorale and singers from Fort Wayne. Robert Nance, producer and director of this musical ensemble in neighboring Fort Wayne, had been talking to me about singing at the Niswonger, too. I thought this would be a perfect marriage of performers.

You can be the judge on March 18 when you come to see “Broadway & Beyond.”  Take a listen to Mark singing on our email blast we sent out or just google J. Mark McVey singing Mary Did You Know.  I’ll bet you will want to hear him live at the Niswonger.  If you don’t already have the Community Concert Series, just buy a single ticket to this one.  You will be glad you did!

I can’t thank you enough for the enormous support so many of you have given to those of us involved in the Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.  WE look forward to a spectacular second half of our season with concerts like “Broadway and Beyond” as well as others.  And don’t forget the biggest concert of all time: our Gala Concert featuring the Boston Pops with Bernadette Peters. What a night that will be! Ticket sales open up on January 4.

Merry Christmas to all of you! I hope the celebration of Jesus’ birth brings joy. I’ll see you down the road with the Time Jumpers and Vince Gill on February 4.


POSTED: 12/20/16 at 5:48 pm. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

It has been another wonderful Christmas time at the Niswonger!  I know everyone really enjoyed the Andy Williams Christmas Extravaganza. It truly was a wonderful Christmas variety show. Sandi Patty certainly didn’t disappoint, and Elf was a fantastic Christmas show, Broadway style!

Now, we have one more shot of Christmas cheer for you and it comes from singer, pianist, composer, radio and TV host, sports personality, and ultimate stage entertainer John Tesh. Could one person fit anything more into a life? Oh yeah, how about a John Tesh Big Band Christmas show at the Niswonger in Van Wert, Ohio!

Well, that’s exactly what will happen this Saturday night.  John Tesh will bring his band, music, personality, “Intelligence for Life” quips, and lots of Christmas cheer for you to enjoy before you start making plans for the Big Day: December 25!

John is looking forward to returning to the Niswonger where he performed to a packed house back in 2011. It’s hard to believe it has been five years since he and his band of great musicians played our performing arts center. People enjoyed his show so much that we felt it was time to bring his newest show back for you to enjoy.

Tesh got introduced to many in America as the ten-year host of Entertainment Tonight.  But he also was a sports announcer, covering the Tour de France and the ‘92 and ’96 Summer Olympics as well as writing the very familiar theme song for the NBA on NBC.  You would immediately recognize it.  He has had his own TV shows and appeared on many others and currently does a syndicated radio show playing adult contemporary music interspersed with commentary he calls “Intelligence for Your Life.”  He has a similarly named TV show I have seen on WTLW- 44 out of Lima, a good media partner of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.  In addition to all this, Tesh loves to tour his Christmas show and perform on piano throughout the year.  He even does Christian Praise and Worship music.

With all this experience, you just know we’re going to have a fun time Saturday night with John Tesh and his Big Band.  Believe it or not, one week from this Saturday will be Christmas Eve!  We tried to time our Christmas concerts so you can get filled with the joy of the season, but yet have time to make plans for Christmas gatherings and time with family.

About 75 tickets remain for this Saturday’s performance, so bring some friends, have a nice meal beforehand and take in one last Christmas cheer, compliments of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.

And don’t forget those gift cards for the music lover on your list.  They are really flying out of the box office. Once you introduce a friend to the Niswonger, they will thank you over and again.  We hear that story all the time.

I have to thank those of you who weathered the weather last Sunday night to attend our Messiah performance at First United Methodist Church in Van Wert. With snow and drizzle coming down outside, it cut the audience a bit, but a comfortably filled sanctuary experienced a tremendous and uplifting performance.  All the chorus, orchestra, and soloists made it: nearly 80 total musicians on stage. The musicians came from New York City, Boston, Akron, Perrysburg, Lima, Cleveland, Bowling Green, Minster, and other communities throughout the area. To those in the chorus, the four soloists shared that they thought this was one of the finest Messiah choruses they have ever performed with. Bravo!

It was a blessing to work with so many great musicians and create such an inspirational performance of the masterwork Messiah. Thank you to those who attended. I only hope you were blessed half as much as we 80 musicians on stage were!


POSTED: 12/14/16 at 7:17 am. FILED UNDER: Music in Van Wert

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