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New Compositions Featured at ‘Evening of Song’

June 3, 2014

Encore Performing Arts is branching out this year offering an opportunity to hear original compositions by individuals from the rural Midwest. Oscar ‘Ollie’ Erwin, a graduate of LaVille High School now attending Manchester University will be pursuing his doctorate this fall. He brought the idea for ‘Evening of Song—Original Music from Rural Mid-America’ to the Encore board last winter and the idea has taken root. Saturday, June 7, at Lincoln Jr. High Auditorium, five aspiring composers will hear their original compositions performed by mezzo-soprano Ashlee Bickley ( and maestro Robert Nance ( at the keyboard. Both have extensive musical backgrounds.

            In a recent interview, Erwin had advice for aspiring composers—“just do it”. The featured composers did just that. They range from students to professors but all fit the criteria established early on by Erwin—raised on a farm in states north of Tennessee, west of Pennsylvania, south of the Upper Peninsula and east of Nebraska. Jonathan Posthuma and Mary Ellen Haupert reside in Wisconsin. Wes Flinn is from Minnesota and Lucas Marshall Smith calls Ohio has home. Dan Knight is an Iowa native. The latter described his experience growing up in Ottumwa, Iowa. “We were invigorated by the challenges, humbled by the power of nature and always in awe of the beauty that we saw every day. It taught me tenacity, perseverance, independence, interdependence, tolerance, patience and thankfulness in ways that are with me even now.”

            The concert is a perfect way to end a busy Saturday at the Plymouth Farmers’ Market, enjoying the Yellow River Festival and then a fine ‘Evening of Song’. Tickets at $10 with students free are available at the door and ticket outlets including WTCA, Martin’s, Pilot News, ASK for Flowers and Wagoner’s Music Shop. Call the Encore office at 574-935-4987 for more information.

Carol Anders Correspondent