A magical evening with Jackie and The Dayton Philharmonic

scan0001After a long year since the last time I had the opportunity to see Jackie Evancho perform live again, I finally was able to attend her concert this past Saturday in Dayton, Ohio.  Jackie performed two nights (Friday – 4/27/18, and Saturday – 4/28/18).  I was not able to attend on Friday, but managed to attend the Saturday concert, and oh what a concert it was!

I had purchased tickets for this concert almost 6 months ago, without knowing for sure if my wife and I could attend.  Our schedules have been very packed lately and it would be uncertain if we could break away from the demands of everyday life in order to attend.   Since this concert was only a three hour drive from home, it made the decision a bit easier to go for it.  We decided to spend the night at a hotel on the night of the concert to avoid having to drive back home that night after the concert.

When the day of the concert arrived, the anticipation and excitement of going to see Jackie suddenly was upon us.  The weather that day was unseasonably cool for this time of year.  We had been experiencing unusually cold, wet, and snowy weather in April this year.  In spite of a dismal weather forecast, the weather was better than expected.  Although the temperature stayed in the low 50s, the forecast of rain held off.  We arrived at our hotel around 3:30 pm.  That gave us plenty of time to settle in, freshen up and get to dinner before the 8:00 pm concert.  As I checked us in at the hotel front desk, the clerk asked me what brought us to Dayton.  I told him that my wife and I were coming to see Jackie Evancho perform at the Schuster Center with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra.  The clerk then brightened up and said that he just saw Jackie perform last night and that it was absolutely fabulous!  It was great to hear that and it just increased the excitement even more.

We departed the hotel around 5:30 pm since I had booked dinner reservations at Citilites restaurant at 6:15 pm.  The restaurant was conveniently located inside the same building as the performance hall, so it seemed like a good option for dinner.  The parking deck where we parked was right across from the performance hall.  After we parked and started walking to the hall, they were playing Jackie’s music over the loudspeakers in the parking deck.  That was a surprise in itself.  I don’t believe I had ever been to a Jackie concert where her music was being played in the parking deck.  It brought a smile to my face.  I was also very pleased to see that there were plenty of promotional pictures of Jackie all around the hall and in the parking deck.  It didn’t take long to notice that The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance put a lot of dedication into the promotion of these concerts with Jackie and the Dayton Philharmonic.  As my wife and I walked into the Schuster center, the place looked very impressive.

We found the Citilites restaurant inside the building and were soon seated at our table.   It had become traditional for many die-hard Jackie Evancho fans to get together for dinner before a concert, but due to communications break-downs, there was no formal fan gathering planned.  However, it soon became obvious that many familiar fans that I have met in the past decided that Citilites was also where they would dine before the concert.  So, in-a-sense we still had a fan-gathering of sorts.   Great minds think alike!  It was nice catching up with some people whom I haven’t seen in over a year.  The dinner, the camaraderie, and the atmosphere was great!

Before we knew it, concert time was approaching.  We proceeded to our seats.  I had purchased tickets for my preferred place to sit for a Jackie concert – 4th row, just slightly left of center stage.  I’ve always felt that this is a great vantage point to see Jackie, although she always makes every attempt to walk along the width of the stage so that everyone can get a chance to see her.  In all the years that I have attended Jackie concerts, she has always commanded a remarkable stage presence even in her very younger years.  Now that she is 18, her composure on stage is much more mature and reserved than when she was younger, but she still has that grace and charm about her that her fans have come to know and love.

The stage looked elegant and classy.  The orchestra members were doing typical warm-ups on stage as people moved towards their seats.  The Dayton Philharmonic took up a large portion of the stage.  There was a complete contingency of orchestral instrumentation.  I could tell this was going to be a special night, since it had become rare to see Jackie perform with a full orchestra these past few years as opposed to when she was first doing shows right after her debut on America’s Got Talent in 2010.


Soon the show would begin after the concert-master came out in typical tradition to tune the orchestra.  The conductor Neal Gittleman would take the baton and lead the orchestra as opposed to Jackie’s usual music director Peter Kiesewalter.  Maestro  Gittleman did a wonderful job establishing a rapport with the audience right from the get-go.  He seemed to be very genuine with his admiration for Jackie and the opportunity to perform with her.   He indicated that Jackie wanted the orchestra to have the opportunity to perform some pieces on their own as well as have her sing with them.  Thus, the orchestra opened the show and played a couple of additional pieces in each half.  At first I wondered how well Jackie would mesh with a conductor that she hadn’t worked with before, but after Jackie performed her first song titled “Lovers” it didn’t take long to realize that Jackie, Maestro Gittleman and the orchestra were going to be working well together.  There wasn’t as much over-amplification used for this performance outside of Jackie’s microphone and maybe some slight orchestral amplification.  It wasn’t needed as there was plenty of sound to fill the hall, which had splendid acoustics.  The format of the show was primarily focusing on Jackie’s earlier music, being more on the classical side.  Jackie performed several songs from her Dream With Me and Songs From the Silver Screen albums.  However, Jackie did perform two songs (“How Great Thou Art”, and “The Way We Were”) from her latest CD titled “Two Hearts.”  Although there was a printed program with this concert, the set-list wasn’t in it.  I wasn’t able to remember the entire set-list, but perhaps someone who wrote it down can share it here.

Here is Jackie’s page inside the printed program:


The format of the show seemed to follow a pattern of Jackie singing about 4 songs, then yielding to the orchestra to play a piece, and then having Jackie sing 4 songs to close out each half.  One of the standout songs that got everyone jumping to their feet after it was over was when Jackie sang “How Great Thou Art”  She sounded magnificent singing this song and I think it was perhaps the best performance of the night.  Jackie also received standing ovations for Music Of The Night and Nessun Dorma, which closed out the program.  After thunderous applause at the end of the regular program, Jackie came out to do an encore of “The Lord’s Prayer.”

Throughout the entire concert Jackie sang incredible!  She seemed a little nervous at the very beginning, but it only took a few measures of the first song before she settled-in to her musical comfort zone.  I cannot emphasize enough how incredibly poised Jackie is on stage.  She has a stage-presence that is just mesmerizing.  There were a couple of brief moments when she looked over at me and I could feel the eye-contact as if she were singing right to me!  She has a way of drawing in her audience like no other performing artist that I have ever seen.  She makes you feel appreciated for being there to see her perform.  It is quite special!

Once the show was over, I left with that usual euphoric feeling of music bliss.  Jackie touched my heart once again with her amazing voice and personal charm.  I am grateful that I was able to  have that experience with her.  It is hard to say when I will be able to see Jackie perform again, but I will always cherish each and every opportunity that I have to see her perform live.

God bless you Jackie and thank you for sharing your gift!

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Steven Carter
    Apr 29, 2018 @ 19:03:12

    Thank you very much Varn for once again connecting us to Jackie’s performance with all the excitement and beauty that she always brings to her audience. I always can feel the excitement I’ve experienced in the past when seeing her perform live when reading your reviews. I know I speak for everyone whose been following this now young woman’s remarkable career by thanking you for sharing your’s with us. Namaste.


  2. Anonymous
    Apr 29, 2018 @ 20:32:20

    Mr. Varn: I too attended Jackie’s performances. Thanks much for the write up. Your’e a great writer! Always enjoy your posts.


  3. Roger Phillips
    Apr 29, 2018 @ 21:12:11

    Varn, Thank you so much for this wonderful review. You give all of us who could not be there the feeling of having a seat right next to you. I have been to 13 of Jackie’s concerts, but have yet to enjoy one with a full orchestra. Again, THANK YOU !!


  4. miketigfan
    Apr 29, 2018 @ 23:17:53

    Thanks for posting this write-up so quickly, Ken. Very nicely done. I enjoyed meeting you and your wife again at the concert. I felt kind of nostalgic. Jackie was grabbing handfuls of her dress while she sang, like she used to do a lot. Also, at times she pulled the mic away to the side instead of pulling it forward. I thought she had stopped doing that, but I might be mistaken. The chin wobble was back a couple of times. I was never one that thought that was too big of a deal, but I thought she had stopped doing it. I wonder if singing with a full orchestra again brought back some of these mannerisms. I’ve always loved the grabbing the dress thing and imagined superstitiously that it helped her sing better. 😉


    • Lawrence E Knetzger
      Apr 30, 2018 @ 10:46:41

      The chin movement is part of her very powerful voice and vocal cords, part of the strength of her voice, very commendable, enjoyable, a person such as Jackie’s presentation of her talent, beautiful . He hand mannerisms also project the power of her performance, its her energy field being given to every one in the audience, we all know how she affects every one of us, like no one else is in the audience except our selves for a one on one performance . Hard to describe personal feelings, the Adrenalin rush , the emotion, on and on. We have seen her twice here in Wisconsin, fantastic.


  5. Norbert
    Apr 30, 2018 @ 01:08:52

    Great review! It is always a pleasure to read your words about a Jackie concert, specially for all the fans in the world, they probably never have a chance to see Jackie live in concert. So, we get a feeling, how exciting it is, to see Jackie live. Thank you very much!


  6. Alec Ludlow
    Apr 30, 2018 @ 08:57:36

    Ken, thanks for the extended review of Jackie’s concert. Its clear from reading this and various other reports that Jackie was on top of her game and Dayton can be added to the ever lengthening list of Jackie triumphs!

    One of the things that pleases me most, is that you were there! Those of us who’ve followed her since AGT continue to be mesmerised by what she does. We knew, didn’t we, that we were witnessing something extraordinary in 2010? Jackie remains my all time favourite singer. Her voice appeals to me like no other. Its been far to long since I’ve sat in a Jackie audience. Little did we suspect the profound effect that little girl in the red dress was to have upon us.

    Good luck Ken, I look forward to further reviews from you in the future.
    Good luck Jackie, bless you!

    Alec Ludlow


  7. VarnK
    Apr 30, 2018 @ 22:22:07

    Just wanted to let everyone know that I appreciate the comments. It’s a been a busy week and I haven’t had much time to reply individually to the latest comments, but I wanted to say thanks for all the positive reactions to my review.


  8. Ron Barley
    Jun 09, 2019 @ 13:02:06

    Hey Ken , people were surprised of your Negative post at Ricks forum , How do your see Jackies’ career now singing in Lounges like Feinstein54 , you had great expectations at one time , her last album was a failure , it is not her voice or singing so what is it ? her personal life ? your forum looks RIP , Why ?


    • VarnK
      Jun 09, 2019 @ 19:33:42

      I don’t think her album is a failure, but I also don’t think it is her best work. Part of my reasoning is that I don’t believe the new album is using Jackie’s voice to it’s true strengths.

      Many of the issues I reported on her concert were due to sound engineering, and not necessarily because of Jackie. Her personal life is her own business and not my concern.

      My blog has run its course for now and I don’t have the time to stay on top of it as I had in the past, primarily due to a more busy personal life of my own.


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