Music in Van Wert
By: Paul Hoverman
Another big holiday weekend is approaching as we celebrate Independence Day in America. Once again, many activities will surround the July 4 celebration in Van Wert with the Holiday at Home plans.
Things get started this Friday night with what has become a Van Wert tradition with the Lima Symphony Pops Orchestra in Fountain Park. I hope we as a community don’t take for granted the wonderful opportunity we have to celebrate July 4 with a live orchestra. There are not many communities in America that can share a July 4 celebration much like we see on the lawn of our nation’s capital each year.
Maestro Crafton Beck has a program of American music put together that includes Broadway and film scores, popular music, American folk songs, marches, overtures and patriotic tunes sure to get everyone in the celebratory mood of Independence Day. The Lima Symphony will play this Friday in Van Wert and then moves to the lawns of Ohio Northern University for a concert on Saturday.
Activities on Saturday in Van Wert will be in abundance, including a chicken barbecue at Smiley Park by our local firefighters, a parade at 11 a.m. down Main Street and festivities at the Van Wert County Historical Museum kicking off at noon. Fireworks will be put on display at the Van Wert High School/Middle School site. The Van Wert City School District, as well as numerous businesses, corporations and individuals who have stepped up to fund this year’s fireworks, should be thanked for their contributions.
Tickets for the Niswonger concerts are starting to sell as Grand Series sales begin today (July 1). Remember: Grand Series packages include everything outside of the Community Concert Series. With a Community Concert Series and a Grand Series, you won’t miss a single concert this season.
One week later (July 8), Select Series tickets go on sale. This is the time anyone can bundle three or more concerts or events, receive a discount, and be pretty much guaranteed a ticket to the concerts they want. The longer you wait to make your Select Series selection, the more risk you take in tickets either being sold out or the selection of seats decreasing. This is the reason we have added one more level of giving. We call it the “Friend” level of membership; this allows you to make your Select Series selection one day earlier on July 7. Call or stop by the box office to find out details.
That reminds me that the Niswonger box office will be closed this Friday in observance of the Fourth of July holiday. Other than that, the summer box office hours are noon-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday. The phone number of the box office is 419.238.NPAC (6722.)
Whatever you do this weekend, I hope you have a blast and enjoy some good music. I’ll see you from the stage this Friday night as we celebrate America with the Lima Symphony Pops! Food will be provided by the YMCA Wellness Center.
With the announcement of the upcoming Niswonger season, it seems essential to let as many as possible know the buying process for concert tickets. Each year, we try to inform interested ticket buyers as to the process of obtaining tickets, but some fall through the cracks. I may be preaching to the choir, but in case we help a few this time, I will restate our ticket policy.
Before I get into the details, though, I want to inform everyone exactly how we (Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation/NPAC) are organized. We are a non-profit organization that chooses to book our own concerts and events, allowing us to create a season of who we choose.
Some concert hall venues and organizations rent their halls out to promoters who have purchased a bunch of dates for a particular artist and wish to place them in performance halls throughout the country or region. This has its positive features, but also some drawbacks. We have chosen since our inception to self-promote and plan a season as we like (and hopefully, as you the patron will like).
In the parameters we have given ourselves, we try to generate long-term support, rather than go after, and depend on, single ticket buyers who will likely visit us once or twice. To accomplish this, we offer packages and try to establish a loyal customer base. It has been a rather successful strategy for us, and we have most of you to thank for that.
Also, since we are a non-profit organization, we are not driven by profit, although we need to generate funds to function and remain vital and fresh. We realize there are some who really like to have certain seats in the Van Wert County Foundation Saltzgaber Music Hall. The only way to guarantee this feature is to offer memberships and packages which allow priority purchasing dates. In exchange for that, there is a cost associated with the privilege, but also then a discount on the tickets.
We have established membership levels, as well as series bundling sale dates. Participating in this allows people to guarantee a seat is available to them for the concert. Memberships can be purchased at any time and we are currently selling tickets to platinum, gold, and soon, silver members. We then open to Grand Series buyers; those wishing to buy every concert or event on the season (Community Concerts are separate.)
Next is the big Select Series release day. This is where you can bundle three or more concerts, receive a discount, and still get in on early ticket buying. This year we instituted a new membership level called Friend, which allows you to make a Select Series purchase one day in advance.
After all these loyalty dates are through, single tickets sales begin typically 60-90 days before the concert. Those dates are listed in our catalog as well as on-line (NPACVW.ORG). Now here is the important point I want everyone to be made aware of: There may be some concerts that will sell out by the time we get to the single ticket release dates! This is due to the enormous interest in a particular concert and the early purchasing options.
In the past, we had this situation with Marie Osmond, Kelli Pickler and Kenny G, just to name a few. The way to avoid being shut out of a certain concert is to take advantage of one of the early release dates. And if there are certain seats you really cherish, select a package or date that best suits your needs and purchasing ability. We really don’t want you to say as Yogi Berra, the famous Yankee catcher once said: “No one goes there. They’re always too busy!”
Grand Series sales begin July 1, Friends begin July 7, and Select Series begins July 8 (always a big day at the Niswonger!) If you want to secure your seats even earlier, call the box office (419.238.6722) and ask about Membership options available.
It will be a Mardi Gras atmosphere in Fountain Park this Friday night when the Hoo Doo Loungers come to town. All the sounds and music of New Orleans will be on display as this talented nine piece band featuring horns, bass, drums, accordion, guitar, vocals, keyboards and a whole lot more will liven up your weekend this Friday night at 7 p.m.
I also want to mention a concert coming to Trinity United Methodist Church in Van Wert this Thursday. It features internationally known singing group “The Celebrant Singers and Orchestra.” We are proud to say that Crestview graduate Natalie Collins, daughter of Mary and Jeff Collins, is part of the tour this summer as a musician. This concert begins at 7 p.m.
Hope to see you soon!
I’ve been listening to Melissa Manchester sing the beautiful ballad “Come in from the Rain,” and it makes me think about the concerts in Fountain Park. In case you haven’t noticed, we have received quite a bit of rain recently in the area. This may be one of the biggest understatements of all time!
The first concert of our Fountain Park season was blessed with super weather, even though rain was forecast. As I look ahead to our second concert in the park this Saturday night, it looks like we may get a break in the weather, but I wouldn’t bet the boat on it. You may need it!
There are a lot of activities planned for this coming Saturday. The Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure (GOBA) sets sail from Van Wert and the masterminds of the city and county have festivities planned in honor of this event. Bicyclists from all over will converge in Van Wert at the fairgrounds throughout the day. Then, approximately 6:15 p.m. they will form a parade of bicycles, many I understand decorated in a sundry of ways. Around 6:45, they should arrive at Fountain Park in downtown Van Wert where there will be a small ceremony recognizing the thousands of bikers heading out the next day on their big adventure.
The Van Wert County Council on Aging is planning a big feed out of the Rotary Concession food stand. In the basement of First United Methodist Church, they will be up to their necks in noodles. A spaghetti supper will be served, as I understand noodles are good carbs for the bikers. Both are open to the public. Food should be available by at least 5:30 p.m.
The concert of the week has been moved to Saturday, June 20 to coordinate with all the festivities. It features a group called Blue Moon Swamp: A Tribute to Creedence Clearwater Revival and the music of John Fogerty. You may recall such songs as “Proud Mary,” Born on the Bayou,” “Bad Moon Rising,” and “Green River,” just to name a few. Fogerty, the band’s lead singer hoped they would sing music that would still be played 10 years later. Over 40 years later, CCR music is as popular now as it was then.
Blue Moon Swamp is a band that travels coast to coast singing the music of CCR and Fogerty. Dan McGuinness, the band’s lead singer, captures the voice of Fogerty in an amazing way. The band’s motto is “Anything worth doing, is worth doing well” and their concerts recreate the experience of those concerts from the 1970s. It’s a lifetime of unforgettable hits in a single night. I hope you enjoy the concert and the experience of welcoming so many visitors to our fine community.
Every effort will be made to keep the concert in Fountain Park; however, IF it should rain all day long and has to be moved inside, that’s where I welcome you to come in from the rain to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center on Ohio 118 South.
And speaking of the Niswonger, I hope everyone has had the chance to see the new season we unveiled last week. It has many people buzzing with 26 action-packed, entertaining and inspiring events. I would REALLY recommend you at least try to find three or more concerts to bundle, which will allow you the chance to purchase tickets before the singles go on sale. Each year, people are surprised to find out we are sold out by waiting until single tickets go on sale. July 8 begins Select Series sales and this might be your best opportunity. Other earlier opportunities exist for a better choice in seats. Check with the box office for details (419.238.NPAC 6722).
Keep dry my friend.
If you are like me, you’ve probably had about enough acronyms in your life! So, here are a couple more for you to consider; however, I’m going to help you along the way. The two acronyms I have listed above both deal with events happening this June 20. And you might want to be involved, so it’s good to know what they are.
GOBA stands for the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure. Bikers (the pedal-kind) from all over the state will be gathering in Van Wert for this event. They actually launch their bicycle trip from Van Wert this year and will return days later. We are told by the CVB (oops! there I go again) the Convention & Visitors Bureau, that there will be a few thousand bikers coming to our fair city.
On Saturday, June 20, before they launch their big bicycle adventure, they will be looking for entertainment. Enter the FPSMS (oops! Fountain Park Summer Music Series). Our Fountain Park concerts are almost always on Friday nights. We try to be consistent because we want people to know when to count on us. This time however, we decided to be a community player and move our concert to Saturday night June 20 to accommodate our many bicycle visitors, as well as those accompanying them as well wishers.
I assume most the bicyclists will be young enough to be fit for a few hundred miles of peddling. So, for this concert in the park, I chose a concert featuring music they might relate to. The music of CCR (oh shoot! there I go again) Creedence Clearwater Revival is pretty legendary to those who lived in the ‘60s, ‘70s and beyond. One can still hear the music of CCR played on Classic Rock stations with regularity.
Since Creedence Clearwater Revival is no longer together (yes, I am aware of Creedence Clearwater Revisited), I sought out the finest tribute band I could find of their music. That would be the group coming to Fountain Park on Saturday, June 20: Blue Moon Swamp. They hail from Chicago, Illinois, and are named after a solo album by John Fogerty, former lead singer with CCR.
The lead singer for Blue Moon Swamp sounds so much like John Fogerty in his prime that they actually do some John Fogerty songs on the concert. I think our visitors will enjoy the concert and I hope you do too! The COA (well, there I go again!), Council on Aging, will be providing food in the park that night. There will also be a spaghetti supper in the basement dining hall of First U.M. Church (do I need to spell this one out?), just across from the park. Help yourself to your own delight and then join us in the park for some fun music and fellowship.
Just before the concert begins, I understand there will also be a parade of bicyclists working their way from the fairgrounds to Fountain Park via back streets and entering on Jefferson Street. Also, before the 7 p.m. concert with CCR, the VWACCB (Yikes! Van Wert Area Community Concert Band) will be playing at the north end of Fountain Park. So, just as you enjoyed all the Peony and ArtRageous activities this past weekend, June 20 will offer plenty of excitement. Van Wert just keeps offering great things for you to enjoy! It’s the place to be.
And speaking of excitement, today (Wednesday) at noon, we will be unveiling our entire season coming to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center this year. It may be our most outstanding roster of performers, artists and shows we have ever put together in our eight years of existence. I can’t wait to share the good news with you. I’m sure you will agree! We look to color your world with entertainment.
After nearly seven months of meeting, discussing, planning and eventually agreeing with agents and performers, we have a full season ready to be announced to the public. It will happen on June 10 in the First Federal Lecture Hall of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Van Wert. A noon luncheon will be followed by a preview of the season to members, underwriters, sponsors, our valued volunteers and media friends.
I was recently looking through video footage of all our performers and I have to say, it looks like a “blockbuster” of a season! While working remotely from Columbus, I spent two hours watching all the footage of our performers, 25 in total for the upcoming season. I truly was so engrossed by each performer that I didn’t even realize two hours had passed by.
Now, I understand that you hear me say quite often how I think the next concert is going to be outstanding, but I do believe the Niswonger Programming Committee really outdid itself this year. Not often can you put together a season where nearly everyone you wanted, you got.
We are anxious to share the information with all of you. Watch your favorite media source for information on the rest of the season, including Grand Series and Select Series dates. I have a sneaky feeling some concerts this year may sell out before we even get to the single ticket release dates. So, if you can plan ahead and find at least three concerts, your chances increase of getting a seat and certainly getting a choice seat.
The five Community Concert attractions were already announced and have been selling for a few couple weeks. That series of five outstanding concerts is still available and is very affordable. Check with our box office (419.238.1743) or website (www.npacvw.org) to order and get details.
It is an exciting time as we also are planning the beginning to our Fountain Park Summer Music concerts. We are less than two weeks away from the opening concert on June 5 with Ambrosia. The concert begins at 7 p.m. in Fountain Park in downtown Van Wert, but there will be many other activities associated with our concert throughout the day as it is the Peony and ArtRageous Festivals weekend too.
It’s time to start praying for nice weather on the weekends in particular. I hope you all had a nice Memorial weekend. Thank you to all who gave their lives for us. They may now be singing with the heavenly hosts!
I will be on vacation next week, visiting my daughter in San Francisco, so I won’t be seeing you next week most likely. But when we return, it’s full speed ahead for “Music in Van Wert!”
Since 2002, The Van Wert County Foundation has been providing free concerts in Fountain Park for everyone to enjoy. Now, we are embarking on our 14th season of what we call the Fountain Park Summer Music Series.
I remember the first season. I had been on the job as coordinator of performing arts for The Van Wert County Foundation for about five months. We had no idea of whether people would want to come to outdoor concerts on a regular basis. The Foundation was willing to give it a try and entrust me to put a series together.
The very first concert featured the Kettering Banjo Society. I thought a few people might get a kick out of hearing a bunch of banjo players and a tuba come up from Kettering, Ohio, and play some old time music in the park. Wow! I guess I underestimated the interest. There must have been 500 people in the park for that inaugural concert. I remember the comment a friend made of how cool it was to sit outside, relax under the stars and listen to good music. I guess it caught on and took hold.
Since then, we have all enjoyed over a hundred concerts and are looking forward to a new slate starting in just a few weeks. As has been the tradition for the past several years, we will launch our first Fountain Park concert with the Peony and ArtRageous Festivals on Friday night, June 5. One of the biggest named bands of all time will perform in Fountain Park: Ambrosia. If you are like me, you probably couldn’t name too many songs they ever sang, but once you hear them, you will immediately recall them with fondness.
If you grew up in the 1970s and ‘80s listening to the radio (that’s what we used to listen to when we wanted to know what was popular), then you heard Ambrosia all the time. As a matter of fact, even today when I am in restaurants and other places of business where music is being played, I hear Ambrosia songs. Just to jog your memory, here are a few titles: “How Much I Feel,” “Biggest Part of Me,” and “You’re the Only Woman.” Some of the other groups Ambrosia either played for or toured with are like a “Who’s Who” of rock music: Alan Parsons, Fleetwood Mac, Heart, and the Doobie Brothers. That’s pretty good company!
Well, that’s who we open the Fountain Park Summer Music Series with this year. Remember, all our summer concerts begin at 7 p.m. As with other years, this opening weekend will be filled with all kinds of food vendors, craft vendors and artisans in and about the park, not to even mention the Peony Festival Committee will be serving food from the Rotary concession stand. It will be a lively and fun time as we open the summer in Fountain Park.
If you see a Van Wert County Foundation trustee, let them know you appreciate these free concerts made possible with funds from the Saltzgaber Music Fund. The cooperation we receive from the City Parks and Recreation Department is appreciated, as is the fine work of the Evergreen Garden Club.
Here is the rest of the line-up for this summer in Fountain Park:
- Friday, May 22 — The Van Wert Area Concert Band
- Saturday, June 20 — Blue Moon Swamp: a Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute
- (GOBA weekend in Van Wert)
- Friday, June 26 — The Hoo Doo Loungers: New Orleans style band
- Friday, July 3 — Lima Symphony Pops: An American Celebration!
- Friday, July 10 — Van Wert Area Concert Band
- Friday, July 17 — Shotgun Wedding: a city/country band
- Friday, July 24 — CSN Songs: a tribute to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
- Friday, August 7 — Your Generation, featuring Fifty Amp Fuse
- Friday, August 14 — Van Wert Area Concert Band
People often ask if we can relax a little, now that the season is over at the Niswonger. Unfortunately, there are a few items to address during the off-season. Allow me to share a little of our off-season preparations.
The selection process for next season’s concerts is over (phew!). Now it’s time to wait for all our offers to be confirmed (or not). At this moment, I am waiting to hear back from just two out of 25 offers we have in. That’s not bad, but it’s also the reason we experience delays in our announcements and preparations for revealing a new season. However, we are working on what we have and I think by the end of this week we will be ready to put the finishing touches on a new season.
In the meantime, marketing is busy lining up sponsors, underwriters, and advertisers. Nearly at the same time, marketing is also busy collecting information on all our artists and shows to put together a season catalog that will be mailed out to thousands all over the country. Much of this work must be done in concert (no pun intended) with other work. It takes a very organized, creative and skilled person to pull all of this off successfully, and we are fortunate to have one of the best in our marketing director, Tafi Stober. She keeps a lot of balls in the air at the same time. Did I mention the video preparation?
Marketing also works in harmony (sorry, yet another pun) with our box office manager, Jerry Beard, to get all the concerts entered into our ticketing software with all the correct dates, times, and much more detailed information needed for each concert. Jerry also does great work.
As I complete the contract phase of each event, I share it with marketing and the box office. Then, it’s time for our tech and production director to get to work advancing each show. Often, his expertise is called upon even earlier to make sure a certain show will fit the specifications of our venue. Hugh Saunier has been with us from the very beginning and is dependable and skillful. We hear compliments from touring artists quite often on the wonderful team of volunteers and workers we organize under Hugh’s skillful eye.
The lighting side of our productions is also handled professionally by Hugh’s son, Matt Saunier. Matt graduated from Van Wert High School two years ago and is actually now touring all over the U.S. with some professional touring artists who have performed at the Niswonger. Making contacts in the performing arts industry might just land a huge job some day for Matt. He has learned a tremendous amount about show and concert production while working first at the Marsh Auditorium and later at the Niswonger. We have been the beneficiaries of his education.
A new teacher has been hired by Van Wert City Schools to focus on educating students for a future in performing arts. We look forward to working with Melissa Bloomfield and a crop of students who can learn and possibly grow into a future job in performing arts.
During the summer, our facility coordinator will be busy taking care of all our performers’ hospitality, travel and lodging needs. This is sometimes an overwhelming job. Who better than Mark Hartman to take care of these details? Mark has done outstanding work at Trinity Friends Church for many years and now we have been blessed to have his services at the Niswonger. Additionally, Mark will line up all the volunteer positions required to serve each concert. I’ve said it before, but we can’t say enough about the dedication of so many outstanding volunteers we have at our PAC.
Oh yes, and while all this preparation is going on, some of us are gearing up for a wonderful summer line up of concerts in Fountain Park. All that fun begins June 5 with the soft-rock group, Ambrosia on Peony and ArtRageous weekend. Remember, these summer concerts begin at 7 p.m. in Fountain Park.
So, yes it is nice to have a season behind us and to relax a little.a Thanks for asking.
Satisfying an NPAC audience
Running a performing arts center is a job I feel blessed to have. I have always said, what better job someone can have than to be involved in music and, through it, bring joy to so many people? Music has been a part of my life for so many years that I can say it is not a job, but it is who I am.
Presenting concerts at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center and, soon, Fountain Park, once again, is a pleasure. What pleases me the most is seeing happy faces of audience members before, during and after the concerts. On occasion, however, there are some not real pleased. I understand completely. For some, it’s too loud, while for others (believe it or not) it’s not loud enough. For some, the hall is too hot, while for others, it’s too cold.
I suppose it would be appropriate to explain a few factors which affect people differently. Regarding the sound level at concerts, the more “prominent” the performers, the less control we have over sound levels. With the performers so many want to see, they normally bring their own sound man and quite often bring their own system (although sometimes, I think ours is far superior.) I guess the thinking is that “their guy” knows the show, the performers, and knows just how they want it to sound. They mix the sound concert after concert and think they can do a better job. Sometimes I wonder?
What seems to irritate some is the level of sound. For instance, I got a letter (not all that unusual) from someone complaining of the sound level of a recent concert. I also heard complaints from a few others in the lobby. That’s fine. I understand. What people however need to know is that we do not control the sound mix, which affects how you understand what is being sung. We hope that the person they bring knows what they are doing and can adapt the show mix to the acoustics of our hall. Sometimes, I think we could do a better job. The natural acoustics of the Van Wert County Foundation Saltzgaber Music Hall are very good. An acoustician from the East Coast was hired to design the hall and did a marvelous job.
Although contracts strictly state that the performers have final say on sound levels, I have commented on the levels during sound checks. The common retort is that it will be different once people get in the hall. I understand this and try to give the soundman credit for knowing better. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Thankfully, we win far more often than we lose. But we are not perfect. To quote President Lincoln: “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”. Our goal though is to always try!
It’s good to understand the heating and cooling of the Music Hall. Unfortunately, it’s not like our living rooms at home where we can go to the thermostat and make a quick adjustment. First of all, the hall is a large room. Think of how many living rooms you could fit inside the music hall? The controls of heating and cooling throughout the Niswonger PAC are controlled by a computer (what else?) system that takes many elements into consideration. Outdoor temperatures, humidity levels, ozone counts per number of people, wind, sun, changing outdoor temperatures, and on and on. I certainly don’t understand it all. I’m like you, I only know if I’m hot or cold. I am told that circulating air is required to control such a large area. When the air hits you, it normally feels cold, regardless of the temperature.
We work with school officials who control the settings to try and make each setting as comfortable as possible. Sometimes we get it just right and sometimes “the porridge is just too cold,” to steal a line from an old nursery rhyme. However it is, the temperature certainly fluctuates throughout a performance when taking body temperatures into consideration.
Okay, I think this is enough sharing of information on our behalf. Please just understand that we are constantly trying to make a concert experience just right for everyone in attendance. Wish us luck!
There are at least four “P’s” required to accomplish what is needed for a ticket buyer to enjoy a concert. They are each closely related, but not nearly the same. The four “P’s” I am referring to are: production, promotion, performance and presenting. Although we are all involved in making a concert or show for someone to enjoy, it requires different skills.
Let’s take the Niswonger Performing Arts Center as an example. The Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation is primarily a presenter of performing arts. We look for, book, contract with and eventually present already existing performances. If the performance doesn’t occur at the Niswonger, it may happen somewhere else.
Production is the making of a show or concert. Schools, community theaters and other creative organizations produce shows. All the shows we bring to the Niswonger have been produced by someone else. There are people who are trained and work primarily as producers.
After a show is produced, it needs to be promoted. If it is a touring show, it must first be promoted to a presenting organization and/or venue. This is what I deal with constantly. I receive hundreds of emails, brochures, videos, and the like, promoting performers. On occasion, you may be a promoter by telling me about a certain performer you saw or heard and think would be a perfect fit for a Van Wert venue. Bet you didn’t think of yourself as a promoter, did you?
Then there is the performing aspect. I believe this needs little explanation. These are the artists who actually make the show happen on stage. They usually get the credit for everything good or bad that people experience. Just know that before it gets to the performance part, there are many other facets behind the scenes.
That brings me to the presenter part and this is what we do. We are the ones who put our necks on the line, to the point that what we think you will enjoy, you will also think you will enjoy to the point you might be compelled to buy a ticket. It can be a very risky business if you don’t have a pulse for the end user: in other words, the audience members.
Some presenters aren’t very successful because they try and force their preferences on audiences. Now, that being said, I have to admit that we take calculated risks occasionally. Sometimes we win and sometimes we “get educated.” I sincerely hope that we have earned the trust of most people and that we can expose audiences to new experiences from time to time.
When we take a look at the Community Concert Series currently being sold or the Grand Series, which will be announced soon, I encourage you to consider each artist and make your choices based on well-rounded criteria. You may want to check out the artist on our website. We try to get as much information and video posted as possible. You can also go to the artist’s own website and get a good feel for what they are about.
As a presenter, we also realize that when we have a mailing list of over 15,000 people from all over the region representing different age demographics, we must offer a variety of performances. I am so glad when people discover and enjoy new artists they never knew about before. The safe choice is to go with the ones you think you know. Even then, they can sometimes disappoint though.
Thank you all for such wonderful support throughout our 2014-15 season at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. It is you, the audience, who make us special!
It’s hard to believe we are wrapping up another Niswonger season this Saturday night. The legendary Temptations will be in town this Saturday to light up The Van Wert County Foundation Saltzgaber Music Hall to a sold-out crowd of nearly 1,200 people. This concert took off like a firecracker from day one of sales back last summer. We have been out of tickets for over three months. I’m not sure I remember a concert that drew so much attention so far in advance.
As we wrap up the season, it’s interesting to look back at what has occurred since October 4. There have been 29 professional performances on our stage as well as numerous school concerts, musical programs, and rental functions. Next month, we will add a couple dance recitals to round out the season.
Out of the 30 performances, 10 have sold out and over 26,000 people have witnessed our concerts this season. Some have been the same people, but over 1,500 were first time attenders this season. We now have a mailing list of nearly 17,000 concert enthusiasts who have come from as far away as Canada and the state of Delaware. We regularly see people from Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo, Dayton, and the Cleveland area.
Each year, we think it will be difficult to outdo the previous season. This year was one that had its skeptics, but we fail to give credit to some concerts that may initially fly “under the radar.” For instance, so many thoroughly enjoyed relatively unknown performers like the Annie Moses Band, Dallas Brass, Peter White, The Inspiration of Broadway with little known, Mark McVey, Home Free, and the Broadway show- Memphis. I so enjoy introducing people to new performers; at least new to them! This is where our mission of education is partially fulfilled.
We also fulfill our education and inspiration portions of our mission by involving youth with our performances. Who can forget all the high school musicians on stage with Dallas Brass back in November? Or the little dancers and singers who took part in the Nutcracker with the Ballet Theatre of Toledo? Or the darling young kids who performed on stage with Kenny Rogers at Christmas? It was magical! Inspiration at its finest. Some Lincolnview High School singers got the opportunity to sing for Home Free, a group that created more excitement with our audience than I have ever seen before. Some local pianists received world-class instruction from concert pianist, Leon Bates. The previous year, the Crestview High School Choir had the thrill of backing up Christian artists, Point of Grace. Last week, the Van Wert High School Select Choir entertained our lobby audience before the StepCrew concert.
We are constantly looking for opportunities to involve local talent from our schools with the professional performers who come to the Niswonger. As we plan our next season, we will once again be looking for ways to involve local people and hopefully inspire some young people to “reach for the stars.”
We can only accomplish these goals because of the support of you, our patrons and supporters. The dream was thought of, then created, and now you continue to perpetuate it. Thank you for your support of another exciting season at the Niswonger. The way it looks, next season is shaping up to be perhaps even better!
The Community Concert Series has been announced and is now selling to members. You can become a member right now and get an advanced seat selection. On April 29, the box office opens to anyone wishing to purchase the series. Then, get ready: we are only a month away (hopefully) from announcing the entire season — our Grand Series. Hold onto your hats!
And speaking of reaching for the stars, we want to wish the Van Wert High School Band and Lincolnview High School Choir good luck as they perform at state competition this weekend!