Music in Van Wert
By: Paul Hoverman
Certain situations remind me of the value of a Niswonger volunteer. This past weekend, Million Dollar Quartet was in town for a Sunday evening performance. Tickets ranged from $30 to $55.
The show arrived in Van Wert Sunday morning at 9. There to meet them was an army of volunteers, along with a few union workers needed to fill the labor requirement dictated in the contract. A total of 16 volunteers worked beside 12 Fort Wayne union laborers to move the show in from the two 53-foot semi-trailers. There were also riggers, weight loaders, carpenters, flymen, electricians, sound, props, wardrobe, runners, and loaders who were needed to make this show appear on our stage.
Although we sometimes need to hire laborers, there are a number of local people who find it in their heart to volunteer out of civic duty. I think (hope!) they enjoy being a part of a team that makes a touring Broadway show happen in our hometown. They get very little other than a pat on the back and an occasional “attaboy!” And I’m not sure that they even really think much about the value to others they create by their volunteerism. I would venture to wage that they save every ticket buyer $10-$15 on the price of their ticket because of their volunteerism. If we had to hire everyone to accomplish the required work of these touring shows, it would definitely affect the cost of the show.
I only hope these people realize the value of their efforts! I know there are many who have become fraternal brothers and sisters in the backstage crew of the Niswonger. There is something about working a show that gives a person a good feeling of accomplishment. When the audience applauds at the end of a show, much of that applause should be humbly received by these volunteers.
We cannot say “God bless you” enough, volunteers. All of you: backstage crew, front of house, box office workers, concession workers, and on and on: you are truly the engine that makes the Niswonger tick. Many performing arts centers, theatres, etc., are not as blessed as we are. It’s just another good reason to live in a community that cares like Van Wert. Thank you! I would love to start naming names, but I’m sure I would leave some off the list. There are so many of you. So, for now, just know that I, with many others, say a hearty “thank you!” and receive our token “attaboy” and a pat on the back.
This Saturday is the annual OMEA High School Solo & Ensemble Contest. That means our Van Wert County Foundation sponsored Young Artist Recital will be two weeks later. The date this year for our recital is April 21. As in the past, it will be held at First United Methodist Church and begin at 3 p.m. It is a showcase of the best performances from young talented students of Crestview, Lincolnview, and Van Wert high schools. I wish all of them success and hope they are working diligently on their pieces because I hope to see them on our recital. I also hope to see you there as we encourage the youth of our county through music.
I am writing this as I await the arrival of our programming committee for a meeting at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. We will be holding our second meeting for the 2016-17 season. Although we have just reached the halfway point in our 2015-16 Niswonger season, many of us start looking and planning for another year.
Last week, while attending the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Conference in New York (yes, we got out of NY just in time), I visited with many other presenters, artist agencies, booking agents, artists, entertainers, and even saw and heard some outstanding showcase performances. It’s much like being on a fact-finding mission. I always like to get opinions from the committee before leaving so I have some direction for what I’m looking for.
Now, a week later, we are meeting to really get geared up for the making of a new season. Each year, I find it interesting to see and hear about new shows that will be touring. Some are new performers, some are older ones coming back and reinventing themselves, and some packaging themselves in different and more exciting and appealing ways in which they hope the public will enjoy.
We will go through a few months of making choices, and then the job of fitting the puzzle together will begin. That’s where the real work begins. Many variables are considered and affect who and when we can get.
I can tell you that, now entering our 10th year of operations at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio, people are very familiar with where Van Wert, Ohio, is located.
And speaking of 10 years, next year will mark our 10th anniversary and we will be planning some exciting things to help celebrate what we (and you) have created. Stay tuned for this exciting news as we draw closer to announcing the season and eventually a gala performance.
For all who weren’t able to make the Craig Wayne Boyd concert scheduled for this past Saturday, we have decided to give you another opportunity by rescheduling him for April 29. Hopefully by then Nashville will not be under eight inches of snow, on top of ice, and I-75 will be open to his tour bus. Who would have ever thought that Nashville would be the weather culprit and we in Ohio would be in sunshine? Strange weather these days!
Anyway, we are still selling tickets for the winner of the 2014 “The Voice”: Craig Wayne Boyd. If you already had tickets, just keep them and present them on April 29 for admission. I think it will be a spectacular concert …. and now you have a second chance to get in.
The next two shows, Million Dollar Quartet on January 31 and Air Supply on February 6 (notice: a new date from the original published date), are sold out, but remember there could be some seats released at the last moment if you still want to see one of these. Good luck!
I am getting ready for my annual trip to New York City to the APAP (Association of Performing Arts Presenters) Conference this weekend. I know I’ve talked about this before, but each year presents different scenarios and challenges.
The APAP Conference occurs each year around the middle of January — just about when all the beautiful Christmas decorations are taken down in New York City. About the only thing left are discounted goofy looking 2016 glasses!
I enjoy going to New York City, but I have to admit it is a lot of work and the challenges mount each year. I will be gone for about four days and will be on the run from booth to booth, appointment to appointment, and agency to agency much of the time.
Now I will admit that if I have to work so hard, I might as well do it in the Big Apple. That may be one reason why the conference is scheduled in NYC! Quite honestly, though, midtown Manhattan is where most of the big, and even some smaller, performing arts agencies are located. So we go to them.
This season at the Niswonger has been a tremendous one: kudos to our Programming Committee. It, however, makes things challenging for me to come back with some more great options to help create another blockbuster season. You, the ticket buyers and loyal supporters of the Niswonger, have high expectations. I know it and appreciate it and wouldn’t want it any other way.
Although sellouts don’t always calculate into successes (success can be measured many different ways), it is certainly one of the barometers many people use and can identify with. This season, it appears that by the time we are finished with our concert season on April 30, we will have had over a dozen sold-out concerts. This would be a record for us, and a very enviable one for many performing art centers!
I have often mentioned how variety is a key component for our success. Some venues and organizations pretty much offer the same type of entertainment year after year. The only thing I want to offer year after year is quality! I believe people can trust quality and good character.
Sometimes it is difficult to deliver all the time, but it is certainly our goal as we begin to develop a season. As much as some may think that I get to see everything we book, that is not the case. Occasionally, I will get the opportunity to see something or someone in person, especially the lesser-known performers, but most often you have to talk with others and their agents and formulate your own opinions.
So, off to New York City I go for yet another year. Each year I think we will run out of ideas, but each year there are many performers waiting to be booked. I also find that the money we pay in Van Wert is very much like the money from other places. As they say … “it all spends!” That being said, over the nearly 10 years of presenting concerts at the Niswonger, we have built a nice reputation with many performers and agencies. Their experiences and the venue we offer make most of them want to return to Van Wert.
Once in a while you will see return performers, but like I said, there are a lot of performers out there — and many I want to share with our audiences.
So keep your fingers crossed as I take to the Big Apple and look for ingredients for another spectacular season. With the help of our Programming Committee, I am confident we will make the 10th season at the Niswonger something to talk about.
Some of what goes on in New York City this weekend will be coming to Van Wert, Ohio, soon!
I was recently visiting with a neighbor across the hall of where my mother-in-law was staying. When you spend four days at a nursing home, you have plenty of time to visit.
This elderly gentleman spends every day with his wife, who is a resident suffering with Alzheimer’s disease. He is there from morning to evening. He never leaves until he sees that they have properly prepared his wife for the night. He says, “I don’t have to stay, but I have to stay.” I understood completely. What a loving and caring husband! This woman is blessed.
I could tell he wanted to talk as we passed in the hall the other day. We had spoken briefly before, but not for an extended amount of time and not about anything of much substance. This time, he started talking about how he was a veteran. His time of war made him very anti-government and opinionated, which surprised me a little bit. I listened to him as he told me of his various stances on social and political issues. He and I did not agree about everything, but in the end, he thanked me for listening to him. He knew I did not agree with every issue he raised, but he appreciated that I gave him the time to talk. He said I was better than “the guys” down at McDonald’s! I guess that was a compliment.
He asked me what I did for a living. When I told him I was in arts management and presented concerts, I’m not sure he knew how to respond. But it made me think about how people can have such differing opinions and yet still get along. I told this gentleman (Dave) that even though we don’t see things the same way, we can still be friends and appreciate the perspective we each have.
In the world of arts and music, people certainly have their own opinions of what is good. They also have their own opinions of what they do and do not enjoy. “Different strokes for different folks” is how the saying goes, and it certainly is true in politics, as well as music.
So when I say I think such and such concert will be good and enjoyable, I certainly understand that not everyone will share my opinion. However, I do so appreciate those who are willing to listen and occasionally give it a try. By listening, I think we can all learn.
I enjoy learning from older, more experienced people. I find their age to be such an asset in wisdom. Each year, I become more and more like Dave; hopefully, more wise and understanding.
Variety in music and entertainment gives everyone the opportunity to seek out new ways to grow culturally. It may also give you something to talk about with the boys at McDonald’s!
Craig Wayne Boyd was playing anywhere he could in Nashville, as many musicians do. Music City, USA, is what they call Nashville, Tennessee. Because of that, it attracts many aspiring young musicians, but very few actually make it.
Boyd began his aspirations in 2004, but it wasn’t until he auditioned for NBC’s “The Voice” in 2014 that he finally found the break he was looking for. It was actually September 30 of 2014 that Boyd debuted on TV’s “The Voice” as a selection of Country music sensation Blake Shelton, who then became his coach and mentor. After many attempts to run him off the show, the public kept coming to Boyd’s rescue and voting him back. In the semifinals, he sang Merle Haggard’s “Workin’ Man Blues” and “The Old Rugged Cross,” which catapulted him into the finals. On December 16 of last year, Boyd was declared the winner of the seventh season of “The Voice”!
Since last year, he has been on a whirlwind tour of the United States. Shortly after winning, he went on a 65-city tour, sharing his smooth Country voice with many adoring fans. Boyd says he loves to share stories with his songs, and it’s obvious people like to hear those stories. A couple weeks ago, Boyd made an appearance at The Grand Old’ Opry. Before going out on that famed stage, he sat on the side and wept, realizing how hard he has worked to finally get there. “Persistence and perseverance pay off if you don’t give up on yourself,” he stated after that performance.
This newest Country music star will be on stage at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in a few weeks on January 23, 2016. It should be a Saturday night to remember! Tickets are still available for this memorable concert. I look for them to start going quickly once we get into the new year.
Our box office is open Monday-Wednesday this week and then will be back to its regular hours beginning January 4 (Monday-Friday, noon-4 p.m.). Of course in the land of Internet, the box office is always open 24/7 at NPACVW.ORG.
Million Dollar Quartet (January 31) tickets and Air Supply (February 6) are both nearly sold out. BJ Thomas with the Lima Symphony Orchestra (February 27) is quickly picking up the pace and seats are going fast for this concert too!
We have a whole new season on tap for you to enjoy at the Niswonger starting in January. Twelve outstanding concerts and speakers are on tap through the end of April. I hope you have the opportunity to attend some and share the good news of music, entertainment and inspiration with friends. I will look forward to seeing you soon!
This Thursday, we at the Niswonger finish our Christmas concert season with the DePue Brothers, a rollicking, fun, and memorable night of fiddling and beautiful Christmas music. It will mark the end of five concerts this Holiday Season for us. It has been busy, but certainly memorable! Each concert has offered a different take on the seasonal music by extraordinary musicians. This Thursday will be no exception.
Not only have we been busy at the Niswonger, but there have been many other community and school opportunities to get your fill of Christmas without ever having to leave the area. As we wrap up our holiday season offerings, my attention turns to the music of Christmas in His house — the One for whom Christmas is all about.
I know many churches in the area are planning special services with wonderful Christmas music. I encourage you to check out your church, and if you don’t have one you are associated with, perhaps now is the time to get involved. For me, personally, I enjoy the tradition of Christmas in a beautifully decorated church sanctuary. This Sunday at First United Methodist in Van Wert, we have special music with four hands on the piano, pipe organ, hand bells, brass, percussion, choir and rich congregational singing. I am quite sure your church and many others are planning some special music you won’t want to miss.
I love the fun music at Christmas time like “Winter Wonderland,” “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” (don’t we wish!), “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and I can even occasionally enjoy “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”
But it is the Christmas music that tells the actual story of the holiday that really gets me excited. Songs like “Silent Night,” especially when the sanctuary is filled with the a cappella vocal sounds with candles being lit, “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” and “Joy to the World,” with the triumphal sounds of brass and organ, which really make my spirits soar.
Christmas is filled with so much wonderful music! I’m sure you will take the time to enjoy the sounds of the season in your own way. May the reason for the season help you to enjoy this time of the year.
As we look ahead into the new year, we have another half of a season remaining. Twelve exciting concerts, speakers and events will keep you wanting to come back to the Niswonger this year. Such notable performers as Craig Wayne Boyd, winner of NBC’s “The Voice”; soft rock legends Air Supply; the great BJ Thomas, with the Lima Symphony Orchestra; and many, many more remain this year.
A Niswonger gift card gives someone the gift of music of their choosing. Check at the box office before it’s too late. We will be open through December 23. It just might be the perfect gift to bail you out!
Nothing says family like Christmas time. For those of us with family scattered across the miles, it is a time to get together and share and enjoy the traditions of family, love, and Christmas.
The last of five Christmas concerts at the Niswonger features a family of four boys who have quite a story. The DePue Brothers come to the Niswonger on Thursday night, December 17, and invite all of us into their family room to enjoy a homespun Christmas.
I especially wanted to bring the DePue Brothers to Van Wert for a concert close to Christmas. Knowing that they all grew up in Bowling Green, Ohio and that their father still resides there, I figured they might all be convening close to December 25. The four brothers, all professional violinists/fiddlers, live throughout the country. Although they concertize together quite often, they also perform separately with the likes of the Indianapolis and Philadelphia Symphonies, as well as the Nashville music scene.
Wallace Jr., Jason, Zachary, and Alex are all sons of Wallace DePue, a composer and professor emeritus at Bowling Green State University. Dr. DePue resides in Bowling Green and has been the driving force for this family of virtuosic musicians. While I was attending BGSU in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, these four brothers were just beginning their music training. Between BGSU string teachers and then University of Michigan instructors, all four boys began learning a craft that would eventually make them known throughout the United States for their fiddling and violin playing.
Their father was a strict disciplinarian when it came to practicing the violin. I always remember what he told his kids at a young age. He said, “You can work like a dog now and play the rest of your lives, or you can play around now and work like a dog the rest of your lives.” Obviously, they heeded their father’s advice and are now playing in their adult lives and making many people happy through their music. And when you see them on stage, you know they are having fun.
It is a rather rare occasion when all four brothers perform together. Often it is two or three along with a band of extremely talented colleagues who perform as the DePue Brothers Band. This December 17 in Van Wert at the Niswonger, however, all four boys will be together and I can’t wait! You will experience the love and fun that four brothers can have while performing together on stage.
I have seen their program and it will have a ton of Christmas music throughout. They also create Christmas music in so many different styles; everything from Bluegrass to Classical and Pop to Rock and even some between. You will certainly feel you have been invited to the DePue family room for an impromptu fiddling fest of fun!
Some tickets still remain for this Community Concert event on Thursday, December 17, but don’t delay. Call now (419.238.1743) or go online (NPACVW.ORG) for tickets. Bring the entire family. And don’t forget gift cards to the Niswonger. We have another half season left with some terrific concerts yet to come. A gift card might just be your ticket this Christmas!
This past weekend, my sister was visiting from Paoli, Indiana, for Thanksgiving. Looking for something to do on Friday, I said, “Let’s go downtown Van Wert and do some shopping!” This is something I would not have suggested for many years.
Although it was lightly raining, we parked downtown and walked all around, frequenting numerous shops. Now I know some of you are thinking this kind of activity disappeared from Van Wert decades ago. Well, I’m here to say it has returned!
We walked from store to store, taking in the new menswear shop TAG on Washington Street. We then proceeded to Mod Boutique on West Main and then to Truly D’vine for some goodies to keep our energy up. We then crossed the street to South Washington and did some window shopping at Francis Furniture before entering their next door neighbor: Once I Was.
This is a cute little shop worth experiencing. Remember the old vanilla peanut clusters we used to get at the dime store? Well there are some worth tasting at Once I Was. We then crossed the street and entered Touches of Time. This was a mistake, because we spent way too much time there. What a walk through time! If you haven’t been completely through all three floors of this antique mall we used to call Montgomery Ward, then you need to!
We wanted to continue on down to Mengerink’s Source for Sports (the old JC Penney store) and see their wonderful collection of OSU Buckeye gifts and then on to Corner Treasures (the old Derry Drugs), but we ran out of time. Corner Treasures just opened up and I need to visit their new store.
Now that I have taken you on a walk with me through downtown Van Wert, I say all this to encourage you to do this Friday afternoon and evening. This Friday, December 4, will be the community Christmas tree and gazebo lighting ceremony in Fountain Park. Music will be provided by Van Wert’s own “Merry Gentlemen.” This quartet of young men consists of a teacher, an insurance agent, an executive secretary, and a program manager. Matthew Alessandrini, Eric Hurless, Seth Baker, and Adam Ries are the four singers who continue to bring holiday cheer each Christmas season. There will be refreshments, music, and, of course, the lights of the season to behold.
Then, come across the street to First United Methodist Church and enjoy beautiful choral music provided by the Women’s Chorus and A Cappella Choir of Bowling Green State University at 7 p.m. The sanctuary is all decked out in holiday cheer and is waiting for you to relax and take it all in while enjoying glorious choral music.
At the end, nearly 100 university singers will join their voices in a big Christmas finale just for our Van Wert audience. Two local singers will be part of the 100 voices on stage: Carissa Miglin and Jacob Hoverman.
What a night for everyone to enjoy! It will certainly put everyone in the holiday spirit. Coming into the church reminds me of the scene from the movie Home Alone, where Macaulay Culkin enters the big cathedral in downtown Manhattan and sits beside an old man and listens to the glorious voices of a choir singing.
Well, this isn’t Manhattan, New York, but it is downtown Van Wert, and we have a lot to offer. Check it out this Friday evening. You’ll be glad you did.
Before I get into the Christmas spirit, I don’t want to skip over one of my favorite holidays of the year: Thanksgiving. I am so thankful for all of you who support the performing art endeavors in Van Wert. You have made us an exciting destination place throughout the region for quality music and entertainment. God has blessed us with so much and I am truly thankful!
Now, after all the turkey, trimmings and football (thank goodness, Tony Romo has returned) are put to rest this Thursday, it is time to start thinking of the wonderful Christmas concerts planned at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.
Christmas has always been a very special time of year at the Niswonger and this year is certainly no exception. Five concerts offer a diverse array of Christmas music for you to enjoy. Add to that the BGSU Choir concert at First United Methodist Church at 7 p.m. Friday, December 4, and there is plenty to enjoy!
The Niswonger Christmas season starts with the Contemporary Christian band Mercy Me on Saturday, December 5, at 7:30 p.m. Unfortunately, if you don’t already have a ticket, it may be difficult to get in, as we have been sold out for some time. Remember, though, at the last minute there could be a ticket or two become available as performer holds get released.
The next night, Sunday, December 6, we welcome Dave Koz & Friends back to the Niswonger for another 7:30 p.m. concert. This year, Dave brings Jonathan Butler, Candy Dulfur, and Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers. This is bound to be a winning combination for anyone wanting to enjoy great Christmas music. These guys are great musicians and certainly exude the spirit of Christmas from the stage.
The following week brings another double header featuring the smash Country Music a cappella group Home Free on Saturday night, December 12, followed by the amazing voice of Contemporary Christian and Gospel music: David Phelps and his wonderful Christmas show. Phelps will be in concert Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. Home Free is sold out and Phelps is right behind them.
We conclude our Christmas season with a down home concert by the DePue Brothers on Thursday, December 17, at 7:30 p.m. These four brothers and their band of virtuosic musicians will come to the Niswonger living room and fiddle and sing their way into your hearts before they return home for the holidays in Bowling Green, Ohio.
Of course, many of our local churches will be providing plenty of Christmas music and services throughout the holiday season for everyone to enjoy, too. Check them out and bring Christ into your Christmas this year.
Just a word of warning, the traditional candlelight Christmas Eve service at First United Methodist this year has been moved up one hour to 10 p.m., with meditative candlelight music beginning at 9:30 that night.
I look forward to seeing you at one of these and many other Christmas concerts and services throughout the season. In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Yesterday was a day of cleaning and pitching at the Niswonger. I’m sure you do this at your home. You set aside a day of cleaning up and pitching things that have accumulated over the year(s) that you no longer have need of. Well, the same occurs in workplaces; even a performing arts center.
It has been nine years since we began operating the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. Over those years, we have been blessed with little turnover of personnel, although there are some no longer with us and a few new faces. One new face we have recently added is in our office area and we need to make room for another desk (workstation). If you have been to the Niswonger in the past few weeks, you may have noticed a young man new to our facility. His name is Chris Fader and he is learning our box office, as well as assisting in marketing and sales. I will introduce him more at a later date.
This is all being said to lead up to the motivation of cleaning up and pitching. As we were going through the files and drawers, I found many interesting items that made me reflect on our beginnings. One was the Gala Opening Weekend program. We opened with a Gala Weekend of concerts on March 18, 2007. The very first concert on the Central Insurance Stage of the VWCF Saltzgaber Music Hall featured high school musicians from the three schools in the county. They were joined on stage by two esteemed Van Wert alumni who have gone on to outstanding music careers. Doug Wolf, a 1971 VWHS graduate, performed with the VWHS Band and Tom Dustman, a 1966 VWHS graduate, joined a combined chorus.
We followed that Friday night concert with Country music’s Lee Greenwood Saturday night and then on Sunday, appropriately featured Christian artists Sandy Patti and Larnelle Harris. Many of you were there for those opening concerts, and you are the ones I really want to talk about.
I counted over 300 individuals, businesses, organizations, and alumni who gave to the building of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. Those names can be seen today under the “Giving Tree” on the west wall of the Grand Lobby. A few have passed on since then, but most are still with us and have continued to support our cause with concert attendance, memberships, advertising, underwriting, and various other forms of support. It is on the backs of many that we have built our success.
So many visitors are amazed with what Van Wert has, tucked among the cornfields of the south side of Van Wert. It is because of so many of you fine people that we can boast of one of the finest performing arts centers in the Midwest!
It was interesting to be reminded of a few of the facts of our building, many of which have probably been forgotten. Did you know there are 2,650 wooden panels in the Niswonger, all made from the wood veneer of an anigre tree from West Africa in the Congo area. The tree was 8 feet, 10 inches, in diameter and 300 feet tall. Over 105,000 pounds of granite went into the building. The exterior granite is from Italy while the interior granite in the lobby is from India. The stage area is 3,722 square feet, while the entire music hall encompasses 8,278 square feet. The lobby ceiling reaches a height of 55 feet, 2 inches, and the big window in the front is 33 feet, 4 inches tall.
There are many other interesting facts, but I think this gives you enough talking points to share with visitors over coffee at the next show. And speaking of the next show, it features two performances of Mamma Mia!, one of Broadway’s biggest dance and musical shows of all time. November 24 is mostly sold out and the performance on the 25th is moving swiftly in that direction.
If the family is coming home for Thanksgiving, why not treat them to a wonderful night of entertainment, Broadway style, and you will have plenty to talk about.