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The Journal Gazette

  • Ashley Sloboda | The Journal Gazette Heartland Sings played its final of three “The Spirit of Christmas” concerts Sunday at the Allen County Courthouse. The fifth annual event drew about 500 attendees for three shows.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Robert Nance, president and founding artistic director of Heartland Sings, directs The Spirit of Christmas concert Sunday at the courthouse.

Monday, December 17, 2018 1:00 am

Tradition 'like no other'

Heartland Sings conducts annual concerts at courthouse

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Allen Superior Court Judge Stanley Levine welcomed visitors to his workplace Sunday not from behind a bench but from the Allen County Courthouse rotunda, where a concert – not legal proceedings – was on the docket.

“Sit back (and) listen as two gems of the Fort Wayne community, Heartland Sings and the Allen County Courthouse, sing together in a holiday tradition like no other,” the retiring judge said to an audience of nearly 200.

The weekend marked the fifth year the professional vocal ensemble presented The Spirit of Christmas at the landmark, which, as Levine noted, provided beautiful acoustics.

The room responds to the voice, Maestro Robert Nance said.

“That's why singers love it,” he said following Sunday's performance, the last of three.

Nance conducted the choir through a lineup of 16 carols, including such standards as “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “Silent Night” and “O Holy Night” as well as two songs in French.

It's an opportunity to challenge the choir's vocal limitations, Nance said.

“These arrangements put the voice to the test,” he said.

Along with the acoustics it provides, Nance said, the courthouse is a fitting place to perform holiday tunes because its tenets align with cornerstones in faith traditions – community, civility, peace and justice.

Collectively, the concerts drew about 500 attendees.

After Sunday's performance, several audience members complimented and thanked De'Andre Martin and other singers near the exit, using such adjectives as “tremendous.”

Martin, a bass who is approaching his first anniversary with Heartland Sings, is eager to return to the courthouse, he said. He noted he had to adjust his voice for the venue.

The Spirit of Christmas has become tradition for Ed and Linda Reef, who attended with friends. He described the beautiful courthouse as an “exceptional place” to host it.

She added, “It's great for Fort Wayne that we have this.”