Jackie Evancho at the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Music Hall — One last time for the Oldies

 Our good friend Bill Kazan kindly sent us this description and review of Jackie’s recent concert at the Music Hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on August 6th. We were especially heartened to hear that Jackie is becoming ever more confident onstage: Bill points out that her patter between songs didn’t sound rehearsed, as it did in the past. Instead, he says, “she was fluent and funny and obviously enjoying the reactions from the audience.” Her shy, ingenuous awkwardness was charming when she was 10 or 12; it will become less so as she matures into an adult performer. 

Letting the audience in on some of her own thoughts and feelings, which she did, and keeping her mom and dad in the picture are, we think, a sweet way to perpetuate her connection with her early fans, those who fondly remember Jackie when they seldom saw her beyond the embrace of her interesting and admirable parents. She and her family continue to shine as an apparently genuine example of what a wholesome family looks and acts like.  

jackie tonight

Photo Credit: Bill Kazan

Jackie Sings the Oldies at the Music Hall

It was a little less than a year ago that I wrote a review of Jackie’s concert at the Hanover theater in Worcester MA. I was somewhat critical in that review — that her production team was not adding new material, and I thought the absence of anything new might have something to do with the poor attendance.

On Wednesday night I attended her Portsmouth NH concert at the Music Hall, and although the songs were mostly a repeat of Hanover, I have no complaints. In fact, I would say this was her best performance of the four concerts I have attended.

The Music Hall is a great venue - very small, it dates from 1878 – the Music Hall poster said “Intimate”, and it was.

music hall outside (2)

Photo Credit: Bill Kazan

Our wondering about the “new” is now in the past: Jackie has issued the song list for her upcoming album; she will tape her Awakening PBS special in two weeks; the new CD arrives in late September; and I expect they will start booking her for The Talk, The View and the rest, as her album debuts.

I did think she might perform Think of Me, since it is already released for purchase, but she let us know at the start of the concert that this would only be songs from Dream with Me (DWM) and Songs From the Silver Screen (SFSS). I guess if we want to hear Jackie sing the new songs live we’ll have to wait for the album release. Jackie encouraged us to order Awakening!

So, I was thinking, this will be the last time I see and hear what I call the “early” Jackie. DWM was released in 2011 (over three years ago), and SFSS a year later, so these are the songs that got her and us to Awakening, which will now become the focus of her concert tour and TV spots.

No matter how good the selections on Awakening, the songs performed at the Musical Hall on Wednesday will always have a special place for me, and I think most of her early fans. These songs remind us of when we were first introduced to her music, and the beauty and emotion of her singing. I was really glad I was there to hear her sing these songs again — some of them we might not hear her sing again live for a long while. Maybe nothing “new” on Wednesday was a gift.

jackie markdown

Photo Credit: Bill Kazan

So I viewed this as Jackie sings the oldies, and if you love the “early” Jackie, then this was a great concert. I thought her command of the stage and her voice were never better. The song selection was wonderful (song list is below). I do miss the songs on the banned list (Nessun Dorma, Dark Waltz, and Danny Boy), but to everything there is a season.

For those who are wondering, the framework was the same as most of her concerts — Maestro Di Costanzo conducting a local (and very excellent) young orchestra, and Jackie did her usual three song sets followed with orchestra selections. No children were called up on stage — not something I missed!

Although the songs were not new, Jackie had some new things to show us. She introduced almost every song, and managed to give some advice on the teenage years (coping), dedications to both her Mom and Dad (he cries when she sings), and how much she loves the smell of popcorn (which was evident in the very intimate Music Hall setting which was pumping out the popcorn at intermission).

It reminded me of the SFSS tour and PBS special, where she also introduced all the songs, although that was obviously rehearsed. But at the Music Hall she was talking to us between almost every song, and she was fluent and funny and obviously enjoying the reactions from the audience. And how great to just hear her talk about things in her life, and not the “standard book” of questions and answers which seem to be baked into every interview. I think those who were there were made to feel more connected with her than in some of her prior concerts.

Jackie 1

Jackie filming a promo for her new album (Credit: Jackie’s Instagram account)

A few other observations:

We got a good smattering of Jackie waves (maybe she won’t outgrow her wave? I hope not). I thought when Jackie hit that high note in The Music of the Night I could hear glass cracking — luckily no injuries, unbelievable.

Jackie did not sing O mio babbino caro — this is the first concert I’ve attended where she did not perform what some regard as her signature song. I’m thinking with three concerts in five days maybe the plan was to save some of her ammo.

And the last thing I would ever expect to see at a Jackie concert — she missed the start of Can You Feel the Love Tonight —  and appeared not to know what the song selection was. So she turned to Maestro Di Costanzo for direction, and then with a quick Jackie wave and a “sorry folks” she gracefully recovered.* The first line of the lyric jumped ship (she didn’t sing “There’s a calm surrender to the rush of day”), but the rest of the lyric stayed on-board and, what’s more, she never lost her composure. Altogether I found the little episode endearing. Yes, it turns out, she’s human after all, not perfect. I think maybe the smell of popcorn muddled her brain.

Now that she is moving on to new songs, what a gift that we have recordings of these first songs — they were our “awakening” to her talent and the special person she is. So while I look forward to the new, I will treasure the old. I’m sure she will keep many of these early songs in her concerts, not to mention that we’ll no doubt hear them again on her inevitable Greatest Hits CD.

I felt nostalgic leaving the Music Hall. It was a good night for the old songs.  But now bring on the new!

Here is the song list

From Dream With Me:

When You Wish Upon a Star (opening song)

Imaginer

Lovers

The Lord’s Prayer

Ombra Mai Fu

The Impossible Dream (bonus Target track)

 

From Songs of the Silver Screen:

Some Enchanted Evening

What a Wonderful World

Can You Feel the Love Tonight

My Heart Will Go On

Reflection

The Music of the Night (encore)        

 

*Editor’s note: the same thing happened in Toronto; there, too, the maestro came to her rescue.

Yojan Laura and Ana Ausfeld’s Jackie Evancho Awakening Promo — Outstanding!

Promo 5Fans Hispanoamerica, Yojan Laura, and Ana Ausfeld’s Awakening Promo. Wow.

We don’t recall seeing a Jackie Evancho-fan-produced video more professional and effective than this one.

At first we thought it was a production of Jackie’s recording company (though we did wonder that they would reference JE’s self-produced album, Prelude to a Dream, and use footage from an amateur video).Promo 3The HD images and sound compliment Jackie’s youthful beauty and her soaring notes. They are a reminder, should we need, it of why we liked Jackie in the first place.

Promo 4

Now about that pop video … “Go Time” … We’ll give you our verdict next week.

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Jackie Evancho, Bridge Over Troubled Waters — A Short Story

Greetings. We recently received a work of fiction from an anonymous source. The author’s semi-autobiographical short story is testimony to the ministering effects of Jackie’s singing that we often read about.

The writer admits his piece is sentimental and he makes no claims for it as a work of art. “But”, he writes, “the story is a fictionalized account of something that happened to me. I wish I could share it with Jackie, to thank her, or at least share it with others who love her singing as well as I do.”

***

Bridge Over Troubled Waters — A Short Story

One late evening a young man shook off his ennui, escaped his apartment, and made his way downtown to walk the city streets. He did so to feel the chill winter wind upon his face, to stroll among the anonymous crowds, to listen to their chatter, to bathe in the color and light of the storefront signs and windows, to feel that he belonged somewhere and to pretend he had some purpose to pursue.

He made his way to the store he felt most comfortable in, a multi-floor CD and used record store. There he could warm himself and, because the store was large and understaffed, he could wander about for an hour or so, unmolested by clerks. He didn’t want to hear, “are you looking for something?”, because, honestly, he was not looking for something; being unemployed, he had no money to spend on music. The longer he spent in the store, the more he felt the store clerks were eyeing him. “They must know I have no money,” he thought, “that I have nowhere to go and nothing to do.”

Sam the Record Man 2
Thirty minutes passed. He spent the time inattentively scanning row upon row of old records. A clerk, a pretty young woman, was in that department, stocking shelves. She glanced at him. 
She put down a box of dusty albums she was emptying and approached him. He felt anxious. She passed him; she smiled as she passed. Around a corner she went, into another room.

It was time to leave, he thought. As he approached an escalator to street level, she appeared again, a bundle of CDs in her arms. She walked toward him, spoke to him.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”

 “What’s that?” He reluctantly turned to face her.

“The music. I can’t stop listening to it”. She pointed to a speaker in the ceiling. She meant the music being broadcast over the store’s sound system.  “I don’t think I’ve ever listened to a CD more often. Again, and again and again. I’m beginning to wonder if there’s something wrong with me!” She laughed a happy laugh, smiled sweetly at the young man, and then turned back to her work. 

girl-listening-music-cd-store-16756503Earlier, he’d wished only to be left alone. But now in his loneliness he so much wished to approach her, to start a conversation, to make a connection. But he couldn’t bring himself to do it. She was just being friendly, he thought. I’m nobody to her. I can’t presume to bother her.

And so he left the store.

Now on the sidewalk, the young man stuffed his hands into his pockets, pulled the collar of his coat tighter around his neck to keep out the winter’s chill, and bent his body into the wind, his shoulders slouched as if he was carrying a great weight. He headed down the busy street to he knew not where. Sadness and despair washed over him. A pretty young woman had spoken to him. He felt empty. She was what he could not now and might never have: someone who acknowledged his existence, with whom he could speak about tomorrow. He was unemployed. He could barely afford to feed himself. He was an economic refugee, useless and neglected. He believed the world despised him; he certainly despised himself. A shadow crossed his mind. He was a burden no one wished to carry. Life was a burden he could not bear.

He found himself on Rodya Street, on an ancient bridge. There he gazed upon the swirling waters. A thought occurred to him; he tried to fight it off with a prayer. Now he noticed on the water’s surface flashes of yellow and white, red and green, colors cast upon the water from the stained glass windows of a nearby church. Just then a preternaturally beautiful sound entered his consciousness. It was the sound of a woman, singing.

Light on waterHis heart leaped up. He felt warm. He forgot the swirling waters and looked up the river along the embankment. There was the brightly lit church casting its light upon the dark waters. But of the singing there was no source. Had he imagined it? Had he remembered it? Yes. He’d heard it at the music store. It was the music the young woman spoke about.

Turning away from the river, he left the bridge and retraced his steps.

The young woman was still at work.  He approached her and spoke, not boldly but with determination. Her back was to him. “Excuse me, Miss?” She turned and smiled her joyful smile. “I meant to ask you. What was that music you liked so much?”

“Jackie Evancho”, she answered, “Dream with Me.”

Jackie Evancho Dream with Me