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Published: Friday, 9/21/2007

Van Wert's arts center starts its 1st full season with Dallas Brass

BY SALLY VALLONGO
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The Dallas Brass comprises, clockwise from left, D.J. Barraclough, Nat McIntosh, Jeff Handel, Michael Levine, Brian Neal, and Chris Castellanos. The Dallas Brass comprises, clockwise from left, D.J. Barraclough, Nat McIntosh, Jeff Handel, Michael Levine, Brian Neal, and Chris Castellanos.
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VAN WERT, Ohio - It takes a lot of brass to plant a posh entertainment facility amid the stalks and smokestacks of this quiet, quaint northwestern Ohio city.

And it took some $9.6 million to realize the vision of a few people who felt that a well-appointed hall and grand lobby would benefit not just the 10,000 residents nearby, but also those in a broad swath stretching from Fort Wayne to Lima.

This weekend the Dallas Brass will be onstage in the theater, adding an extra gleam to the first full season of impressive Niswonger Performing Arts Center.

"We opened in March and had a great start," notes the center's executive director Paul Hoverman. "But we are now looking forward to our inaugural season, featuring an outstanding line-up of concerts and attractions."

Organized by Michael Levine in 1983, the Dallas Brass has established itself as an ensemble of high quality and great flexibility, bringing music from the classics to swing, jazz, and Broadway to audiences around the world.

But there's more to the 7:30 p.m. concert Saturday than highly trained traveling musicians. Two outstanding area bands, the Lincolnview and Van Wert high school bands will share the big stage with the Dallas Brass.

Hold your ears!

But really, there's little need to worry because of the fine acoustics of the Saltzgaber/Van Wert County Hall. Its 1,200 capacious seats are arranged in a two-aisle pattern with orchestra, loge, and balcony seating. Beautiful dark African wood in the hall echoes the Van Wert Federal Savings Grand Lobby, where imported granite and tall, windowed peaks lend notes of grandeur.

"It's not exactly the kind of place you expect to see out here," says Cheri Oechsle, marketing director for NPAC, on the western edge of town.

Named for its major donor and sparkplug, Scott Niswonger, a Van Wert native, the center is attached to both the Van Wert middle and high schools.

"It's used by all Van Wert students," Oechsle says, noting that student productions, and special events are slotted into the main hall and the smaller First Federal Lecture Hall and Theatre.

Also on the Niswonger schedule for 2007 are the Pink Floyd Experience, Oct. 6; the U.S. Army Field Band and Soldiers Chorus, Oct. 16; Anonymous 4, the Grammy-winning women's vocal ensemble, on Nov. 8; pianist Davide Cabassi, Nov. 17; the Moscow Ballet production of The Nutcracker, Nov. 26 and 27, and Marie Osmond (sold out), Dec. 2.

The 2008 schedule begins with Thousand Foot Krutch, Jan. 20, and continues with jazzman Brian Culbertson, Feb. 14; Livingston Taylor, Feb. 29; Cirque le Masque's production of Carnivale, March 7; the Harry James Orchestra, April 12; One Night of Queen, March 28; America, May 3, and the Hoosier/Buckeye Barbershop Blast May 10.

Most events begin at 7:30 p.m. and tickets range from $10 to $45, depending on the event.

For further information, call the box office at 419-238-6722 or visit www.npacvw.org.

Contact Sally Vallongo at: svallongo@theblade.com or 419-724-6101.



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