by Kym Byrnes, photography by Kelly Heck
It’s like magic, really, the way classical arts can carry us away. With the wave of a baton, conductors launch music that fills the theater. Musicians, moving in sync, create beautiful sounds that have the power to elicit tears and smiles, sadness and joy.
On stage, dancers unfold graceful moves that carry the music’s emotion. In tandem, the dancers and the symphony transport audiences away from their worries.
The real beauty of the art scene in Hanover is that it serves dual purposes for the community – it entertains and inspires, wahile at the same it helps participants of all generations find and grow their passions.
The Eichelberger Performing Arts Center serves as a gathering place for locals to watch diverse performances by a variety of colorful and committed artists, including those performing with the Hanover Symphony Orchestra and the Hanover Ballet Company.
“The classical arts have been embraced by the Hanover community and the programs continue to grow,” said David Adler, executive director of the Eichelberger Theater.
HANOVER BALLET COMPANY
Deborah Blume-Byers opened the Hanover Ballet Company in the early 1980’s after growing up dancing and eventually training professionally with the Hartford Ballet in Connecticut. To her, the beauty of dancing is both external – for the enjoyment of the audience, and internal – for the growth of the dancer.
“My dream had always been to teach, and that’s what I’ve been doing,” Blume-Byers said. “I’m living my dream, I don’t know how many people can say that.”
Blume-Byers said she believes dance is the most immediate and accessible form of the arts because it involves using your own body. She said it is exciting when people learn to control their bodies in movement to music.
“They have taken control of their body; and by learning to do that, they have discovered that they can take control of their life,” Blume-Byers noted.
Competition is not the primary focus for students at the Hanover Ballet Company. Blume-Byers said that when her students do compete and perform, it’s for fun and to gain experience.
What is important, according to Blume-Byers, is creating a community of strong, intelligent, confident individuals. She knows all her students won’t grow up to be professional dancers, but she said that the foundation they are getting through the discipline of dance will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
“It doesn’t matter if they grow up and want to be a performer, a housewife, a doctor, a lawyer, a librarian, they will carry this structure, the self-discipline, the fun, the work ethic and the self-confidence with them through their entire life,” Blume-Byers said.
She said that in spite of putting in long hours perfecting their skills, that her students earn good grades and know that education is a priority. In fact, she said that she believes that kids who spend a lot of time playing a sport or being involved in extra-curricular activities thrive because they are learning how to manage time and balance competing priorities.
Not all of her students go on to become professional dancers, but a good many of them do. Blume-Byers said there are several alumni that perform on cruise ships, some that are teachers, one that is working professionally in Hawaii and one that is traveling through China and Australia. One of her daughters is currently on a national Broadway tour and her youngest daughter, a senior in high school, is working with the American Music Theatre in Lancaster.
For Blume-Byers, the work is about teaching young people to love the art of ballet and dance, to perfect technique, to build self-esteem, and to embrace discipline and then apply it to life outside of the dance studio.
“Dance teachers will never be multimillionaires, but there’s a huge prize at the end of the rainbow and seeing the progress and having so many wonderful alumni come back and share what they’re doing in the professional world, is huge to me,” Blume-Byers said.
In 1995, the vision of several local Hanover community members became a reality with the creation of the nonprofit organization the Hanover Symphony Orchestra. Today’s all-volunteer symphony consists of 50 members and includes musicians from Hanover and the surrounding areas. The symphony members range in age from high school students to seniors and include those who play just for fun to those that are professional musicians.
Founding member Sarah Zimmerman said that the symphony brings life and culture to the Hanover community, offering a musical avenue for those interested in playing it, hearing it, learning it and managing it. Zimmerman said the Hanover Symphony Orchestra is “dedicated to fostering the love of music through entertainment, encouragement and education.”
“It started with a small group of people who wanted to bring live symphonic music to the community to help enrich what was already here,” Zimmerman said.
Some have embraced the classical arts in Hanover and Zimmerman said the symphony is counting on that support to continue to grow.
“We are trying to make ourselves known in the community. It is definitely challenging because there is so much going on, but we have found our niche,” Zimmerman said. “We want to grow and expand in it. That’s something that’s hard to do in any community because people are busy.”
Leaders of the Hanover Symphony Orchestra are thinking outside the box in an effort to attract more diverse audiences and interest people that aren’t already interested in classical music.
In addition to announcing a new music director/conductor, the Hanover Symphony Orchestra is also planning a non-traditional symphony event to celebrate its 20th anniversary. On May 22 at the Adams County Winery, the symphony will play rock and roll music and jazz, there will be mandolin duets and singing of everything from top songs of today to Broadway musicals.
“We want to the community to see what we can do with our musicians, what we can do beyond classical music,” Zimmerman said.
The symphony and the ballet company are only two of the manifestations of the cultural scene in Hanover. The classical arts are thriving and Adler said that it’s important for people to experience the arts live and in person, especially younger generations.
“Classical arts is an in-person experience,” Adler said. “Educating our younger generation and encouraging someone to attend a performance may make a profound influence in someone’s life.”
Learn more: www.theeich.org,