Voices speak. Voices sing; voices comfort; voices inspire. Voices carry, and resonate in lives even after the voice has been silenced. Darke County Center for the Arts’ presentations during their 2015-16 “Voices” season achieved all that, and continues to reverberate throughout our community and beyond.
Opening on Oct. 10, DCCA’s Artists Series started off on a high note with the soul-stirring voice of songstress Lisa Biales entertaining and energizing a crowd already inspired by an earlier event celebrating the renewed grandeur of historic Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall accomplished through a recently-completed renovation project funded by the state of Ohio. This historic venue, now equipped with twenty-first century state-of-the-art equipment and amenities, not only looks spectacular, but has a warm and wonderful voice of its own due to wisely chosen enhancements to the Hall’s outstanding original acoustics. Lisa Biales’s ability to perform almost any genre—ballads, blues, folk, jazz, pop—with passion and sincerity proved irresistible to her audience who left the now sparkling Hall with a joyful song in their hearts and happy melodies playing in their heads.
A voice that was thought gone decades ago sounded once again in Memorial Hall on Dec. 19, when the Glenn Miller Orchestra presented “In the Christmas Mood” to the delight of a sold-out house. The orchestra exemplifies the everlasting ability of artistic excellence to reach across boundaries of time and space to connect directly to the soul; the lasting appeal of Glenn Miller’s music was not lost when the band director disappeared while en route to Paris during World War II, but lives on, aptly demonstrating the difference between dated and timeless. Experiencing the joy of the singular Glenn Miller sound that lives forever was a fitting way to celebrate the Christmas season.
A cappella group VoicePlay, an obvious choice for DCCA’s “Voices” season, brought their unique and imaginative show to St. Clair Memorial Hall on Jan. 23. VoicePlay’s members use their voices to create a fully orchestrated sound while performing songs from many eras in a broad variety of styles. They perform (play) music without using accompanying music except for the sounds produced by their amazing vocal skills; and they have a lot of fun while doing that—you know, as in when you “play,” you have a good time. VoicePlay’s captivating performance amazed and amused another sold-out crowd which relished the group’s comedic range as well as their broad musical repertoire.
And then, on April 16, the highly anticipated voices of The Texas Tenors filled Memorial Hall, in more ways than one. The “Special Event” sold out weeks prior to the performance, drawing audience members from far-ranging areas miles away from Darke County to hear these impressive singers. Preceded by a free question-and-answer session where John Hagen, Marcus Collins and JC Fisher engaged in meaningful conversations with those assembled, the show featured country, classical, and Broadway music as well as beloved hymns. The full house exulted in the impressive melodic sounds of the popular trio, and radiated in the down-home glamour of the popular group.
From Oklahoma through The Sound of Music, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II voiced the thoughts and dreams of generations of Americans; DCCA’s season came to an end with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra performing “The Music of Rodgers and Hammerstein” on May 14. The artistry of the musicians who make up the Toledo Symphony Orchestra coupled with the charisma and accessibility of conductor Sara Jobin charmed and thrilled the audience. Fitting perfectly with the “Voices” theme, vocalists Bridgette Gan and Joshua Jeremiah sang favorites from the golden age of classic Broadway musicals, transcending time and space to move and entertain appreciative audience members of all ages.
Through their legacy of St. Clair Memorial Hall, the voices of Ella and Henry St. Clair still ring out in the community they loved and served. Their magnificent gift provided the perfect venue for today’s timeless voices, and the impact of DCCA’s “Voices” season will carry on, buoying spirits and affecting lives well into the future.