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.

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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:

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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!

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An evening with Jackie Evancho at Chautauqua

My wife and I had the good fortune of attending the Jackie Evancho concert this past Friday (8/8/14) at the Chautauqua Institute concert hall.  The following blog post is a report of my experience attending the concert.

We started the 3 hour drive to Chautauqua, NY on the day of the concert, arriving at the Chautauqua Suites hotel around 1:00 pm.  Right away we met several Jackie Evancho fans.  Even though none of us have met personally before, it felt like we knew each other well because of the connection that we have to Jackie Evancho’s fan club and various online forums.  Soon more Jackie fans showed up in the lobby and we had a lot of pleasant conversations about our common bond to Jackie Evancho.  The location of the hotel was only about a mile from Andriaccios restaurant, where we would have the traditional fan gathering that takes place before Jackie concerts.  My wife and I couldn’t check into our hotel until 3:00 pm, so we decided to drive to the 2:00 pm fan gathering, stay there for about an hour or so, and then drive back to the hotel to check-in and change into our concert attire.  When we arrived at the fan gathering it was wonderful to see so many excited fans.  About 25 of us showed up for the gathering.  There were even a few fans who came from outside the US to see the concert.  One fan came from Germany and two others came from the United Kingdom just to see Jackie perform.  Now that is dedication!  It was a pleasure to meet them and to talk with him.  It truly amazes me that people would travel that far to see Jackie sing, but at the same time realizing just how special it is that I only had about a three-hour drive to see Jackie.  It made me realize just how lucky I am that I didn’t have to travel that far for the Chautauqua concert.  The people from outside of the US have my utmost respect for their dedication to Jackie.  They are really wonderful fans as are all of Jackie’s fans.

After my wife and I returned to the hotel to check-in, we drove to the Chautauqua grounds just a bit before 4:00pm. Our concert tickets included the gate fee to get in to the grounds at 4:00pm. So that worked out really well. I had a parking ticket to park in the main parking lot right across from the entrance to Chautauqua. The parking lot was huge and we circled for a while trying to find a place to park. I was amazed at how full the lot was! Were all these cars there just for the Jackie concert? We were getting a bit worried that we may not get good seats if that many people were there already. We had to drive all the way to the back overflow lot to park. Luckily there was a shuttle service that would shuttle people in from the parking lot right up to the main gate. This was the first time we had ever been to Chautauqua. The grounds are very picturesque. It is a quaint vacation village of sorts with cottages, shops, and beautiful flower gardens. Lots of nice people too. It was a very scenic and family friendly environment. We really enjoyed walking around the place, but our first priority was to locate the concert hall to scope it out and see how many people were waiting to get in. We really didn’t know what to expect as far as how hard it would be to get good seats since they were first-come-first-serve. We did have the seating upgrade option, but it included a rather large section. We wanted to get within the first several rows if possible. Turns out our fears were unnecessary. We were there with plenty of time to spare. No lines were forming just yet.

The concert hall is an open-air venue with a roof on top.  The seats were similar to pews that you would find in a church. Many of us fans were gathered before the concert around the side of the venue and we could see directly into the hall.  The orchestra was rehearsing and at some point we knew that Jackie would probably come out to rehearse with them.  My wife and I walked around the concert hall towards the back and we saw where Jackie’s tour bus was parked.  There was no sign of Jackie or her family.  The backstage area of the theater was fairly exposed.  We could see people milling around behind the stage, but once again there was no sign of anyone familiar on Jackie’s team.  My wife and I strolled around a little more to take in the sights of the surroundings.  The lake was situated behind the concert hall so we strolled down there to take in the view.  I guess someone had spotted the Evancho kids playing on the hillside near there, but my wife and I didn’t see them;  Thus, I cannot confirm or deny that sighting.  Later we walked up to the hall to make sure that a crowd wasn’t forming around the venue.  Soon, we heard the familiar voice of Jackie rehearsing the song “Imaginer” with the orchestra.  It was a bit hard to see her because the sun was bright and the stage was shadowed.  We could see that there were several kids who hopped up on stage with Jackie and then surrounded her while she sang.  It appeared as though some of the kids were Jackie’s siblings (Jacob, Zachary, and Rachel), plus a couple of other kids too.  It appeared as though they were maybe trying to shield Jackie from being video recorded.  Jackie’s voice boomed over the loudspeakers and could be heard throughout the area as she sang.  She sounded wonderful!  I will say that it was very exciting to be able to witness the rehearsal.  The last time I had seen Jackie rehearse was in Pittsburgh back in 2011 as part of the VIP M&G package.  So this was a real treat in itself!

A few people were starting to form a line at around 6:30 pm, so we staked out our spot in line at the entrance near the front of the stage.  We had quite a bit of time to kill before we would get let into the hall at around 7:30 pm.  My wife and I were standing in line with two ladies in front of us who had never been to a Jackie concert before.  They remembered her from America’s Got Talent (AGT) and they thought it would be nice to see her perform.  Of course, I gave them the whole rundown of Jackie and all the history behind these past several years that followed AGT.  I told them that they were in for one of the best concert experiences ever.  Another man walked over from one of the cottages across from the venue and asked us what was going on at the concert hall tonight.  He was amazed at how many people were starting to form around the concert hall.  He asked me, “Was there some big-name show that night?”  I asked him if he had heard of Jackie Evancho.  He replied, “Who is that?”  I then asked him if he ever watched America’s Got Talent.  He replied, “Never heard of it.”  At that point I knew I had my work cut out for me, but I was up to the challenge.  I proceeded to tell him all about Jackie and the history behind her tremendous voice.  He became interested rather quickly and said that he and his family would listen to the concert from their front porch, which had a direct view of the stage.  It would have been interesting to have been able to speak with them after the concert to see their reaction.

As 7:30 pm approached, the gates to the concert hall opened.  We entered and gingerly stepped down some steep inclines to get to the front rows of the theater.  It wasn’t a mad scramble, but we had to act quickly to get good seats.  The first two rows filled up fast, but the 3rd row was open just to the left of the podium.  That was my preferred location anyhow.  Jackie would be directly in front of us.  You can’t ask for better than that!  The concert hall started to fill rapidly and soon it became apparent that this crowd was going to be BIG!  We asked one of the ushers about the capacity of the hall.  She said it could hold approximately 5000, not including the overflow seats or the seats above and behind the stage.  Not only did the venue fill up to capacity, but so did the overflow seats and several seats in the area behind the stage.  By 8:00 pm, the concert hall was packed and we still had 15 minutes to go before the start of the show.  This was a much larger crowd than I had ever seen at a solo concert by Jackie.  I noticed that some kids came out from behind stage with the unmistakable Meet and Greet (M&G) badges.  It looked as though there may have been a private M&G for those kids.  I am sure it was a thrill for them to get to meet Jackie.  I can certainly attest to that from past experiences meeting her.

Soon the show would begin.  The orchestra seemed a bit small compared to other concerts that I have been to, but it may have just been how I perceived it.  It was hard to tell where Jackie would be entering the stage.  There was a door on each side of the stage and one in the center behind the stage.  When Jackie’s conductor John Mario came in, he entered in the center door at the rear of the stage. That is also where Jackie would come in after the orchestra opened with “Cavalleria Rusticana” which is the perfect setup piece for her.  Jackie was wearing her beautiful turquoise dress and she looked fabulous!  She informed the audience that she loved the dress because it made her feel like a superstar and that it reminded her of a dress in the movie Frozen.  Unfortunately there were strict rules at this concert about taking photos or videos, so I kept in-line with the rules and did not get any videos or pictures.  Jackie opened the concert with the familiar song “When You Wish Upon A Star.”  I will admit that before the concert started I was a bit disappointed that no new songs from her upcoming Awakening CD (due to be released this September 23rd, 2014) would be performed based on what was reported from her previous concert in Portsmouth just two days earlier.  However, once I heard Jackie start to sing, I realized that it didn’t matter.  Just hearing that marvelous voice live again meant the world to me and it re-invigorated my love for her music.  Besides, I will be attending her upcoming PBS concert filming at Longwood Gardens in the next two weeks (August 21st, 2014) where new songs will be performed.

Now, about the Chautauqua concert itself. I will admit that Jackie probably did not have her “A” game on a couple of songs. She sort of had a brain blank-out when she sang Some Enchanted Evening when she missed an entrance on one of the verses.  She got a little flustered and said something like, “Sorry, this happens all the time.”  She did recover and finished the song as any true professional would.  We in the front rows gave her a standing ovation for support.  In my personal opinion, since Jackie has done so many flawless performances, she has earned the right to several mulligans here and there.  No big deal if you ask me.  All performers make mistakes.   I know that I have made many myself.  The only advice I would give Jackie is to not let your audience know when it happens.  In the second half, there was one other slight miscue in the song Lovers, but that was much less obvious.  I don’t want to make a big deal over this, but I just wanted to mention it to be thorough in my report.  One song that really hit me emotionally was The Lord’s Prayer.  Because Chautauqua is primarily a Christian community, and knowing that probably the majority of the audience had probably heard that song sung by other singers countless times, I couldn’t help but wonder what the residents must have thought when Jackie sang it.  I know I have never heard anyone sing The Lord’s Prayer as beautifully as Jackie.  The moment she sang it I could feel the usual uncontrollable tears welling up in my eyes. I know how much this song means to me and likely meant to the community there as well.  I also think it means a lot to Jackie too.

Soon it was intermission – the time to talk with people around me to see what they thought about the concert so far.  One gentleman who sat directly behind me had never seen Jackie before and was totally in awe at what he heard in the first half.  He told me that after hearing her sing he couldn’t believe what he was witnessing.  He said he entered the concert hall with a bit of skepticism, but now he understands why she has such a faithful fan following.  Many people during intermission told us how they were impressed that Jackie’s fans were so faithful to her and how much they admired the appreciation that we showed her.

Soon the second half would start. Jackie opened with the song “Lovers,” and aside from the slight miscue at the beginning that I mentioned earlier, she was terrific!  She wore a beautiful cream-colored dress that glistened in the spotlights.  As the second half went on, it was almost as if Jackie’s voice was getting more confident and stronger.  The closer we got to the end of the second half, the more her voice seemed to be on fire!  Her high notes and low notes (as well as the notes in-between) were outstanding!  So pure, and yet so powerful!  When she got to the last piece (The Impossible Dream), she dedicated it to her mother (Lisa), saying how much she loved her and that she was the best mom.  Kudos to Lisa for sacrificing so much so that Jackie can live out “The Impossible Dream.”  Also, Jackie dedicated the song “What a Wonderful World” to her father (Mike) during the first half of the concert.  She indicated that the song means a lot to him and that it makes him cry, but that they are tears of joy.  Don’t worry Mike, it happens to the best of us.  Jackie finished with two encores (O Mio Babino Cairo and Music of The Night). Both songs were extraordinary!  You could tell that Jackie’s voice was really running on full throttle during those songs.  Her confidence was rock solid in the second half and it seemed almost as if her voice became stronger at the end of the concert and  that she probably would have continued singing if there was more music on the set list.

In between songs, Jackie was very jovial with the audience.  One thing that she kept mentioning was that she saw a spider (either backstage or on stage – not sure).  She kept mentioning the spider between songs and said that it had a beautiful web, however she was also very afraid of spiders.  One person close to the front said she should squish it, and she said, “Oh no I could never do that, the spider is my new pet named Chico!”  It was funny how she made light banter with the audience at times.  The comment was also true to form in regards to her respect for all living things, even spiders that frighten her.  Jackie also seemed very attentive to someone on her left in the front.  I couldn’t tell for sure who it was, but Jackie smiled and waved in that direction a few times.  I was told that there was a little girl sitting there with a Jackie doll, but I couldn’t see her from where I was sitting.

After the concert, many of us fans gathered at the Chautauqua Suites hotel bar to have our post-concert recap.  We talked until after 1:00 am about all of our Jackie fan experiences.  It is really great to be in a room with a people who have that common bond that Jackie helped us to form.  I truly loved every minute of the day and cannot wait until the next concert and PBS taping of Awakening at Longwood Gardens on August 21st, 2014.  I will be there and will provide another blog post of that concert experience as well.

You can pre-order Jackie’s upcoming Awakening CD at the following link:

http://www.jackieevancho.com/awakening

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Pittsburgh concert March 12, 2013 – A great day!

It had been fifteen long months since the last time I saw Jackie Evancho in person.  Fifteen months waiting in anticipating for March 12, 2013 when Jackie would finally be performing somewhere I could attend.  Suffice it to say, this concert was well worth the wait!  I will try to paint a picture of the day with words so that you follow along as I saw it.

The entire day was a whirlwind of activity.  My wife and I departed for Pittsburgh slightly after 12:30 pm, arriving in the city around 2:45 pm.  The traffic was heavy for the first 15 minutes of the trip.  After that, the drive went very well.  The weather was cool (around 40 deg.) and overcast.  There were only a few sprinkles of rain here and there along the way, but for the most part the weather cooperated.  As soon as we arrived in Pittsburgh, I could feel the excitement starting to mount.  This was going to be a great day!  We found a nice place to park the car in a parking deck just down the street from the arts district in Pittsburgh.  The first thing we did was to walk to Heinz Hall to check out the venue.  It didn’t take long to find it at all.  Surprisingly, there was no marquee with Jackie’s name outside the concert hall.  We walked around the hall looking for posters, or some kind of hint that Jackie was performing there that day.  We didn’t find any sign of Jackie’s concert at first.  Later on, there would be posters of Jackie put up by the venue.

After checking out Heinz Hall, we proceeded to Six Penn Kitchen restaurant where a Jackie fan gathering / dinner before the concert would be taking place.  My wife and I were the first fans to arrive.  We were an hour early.  The fan gathering wasn’t until 4:00 pm, but we sat down in the bar area to wait for and welcome the arriving fans.  I had volunteered to make arrangements for the fans to have dinner and I was a bit worried as to whether there would be enough space for everyone.  It was going to be a very large group.  Reservations were for 26, but I think more than that eventually showed up.  Thankfully, Six Penn restaurant set aside an upstairs room for us to gather.  I think that the fan turnout overwhelmed the restaurant staff, but they did a great job in accommodating us.  I can’t thank the manager and staff at Six Penn enough for everything.  I was told that we ballooned to around 36 fans who actually showed up – one of the biggest turnouts ever for a fan gathering.  The fan gathering was charged full of excitement.   There were people handing out Jackie buttons galore, in addition to posters, banners, cards, and everything imaginable for all of us to sign and wish Jackie the best.  So many fans generously gave to other fans out of the goodness of their heart.  It is one of the many great qualities of Jackie’s fans.

Time started to fly.  Before we knew it, the time was approaching 6:00 pm – the magic hour when those of us who were fortunate enough to attend M&G were to report to Heinz Hall.  Once we arrived at Heinz Hall, the outer lobby was packed full of people.  It was hard to believe that all of these people were attending M&G.  I think some were just arriving early for the concert to take in the experience.  Soon we would get our M&G passes and those of us who received them were escorted into the hall.  We were taken down a stairway to a lower level where the area was roped off for the fans to form a line to see Jackie. It wasn’t long before Jackie, her family, staff, and security were in the room adjacent from the line of fans.  I could see them all just ahead.  Soon, the line started to move.  At this time, I will admit that the butterflies start to take over and nerves set it.  How is it that Jackie’s presence in a room can suddenly raise the emotional levels up so high?  I was feeling giddy with excitement!  Soon, there was only one more person to go in before me.  I frantically tried to remember what I wanted to say to Jackie.  Here we go…. I am next.  I walked up, handed my camera to Jackie’s manager, and then greeted Jackie.  My mind suddenly went blank.  What did I want to say?  All I could get out was, “Hi Jackie!  Nice to see you again!  I haven’t seen you in a long time since the last time you were in Pittsburgh.”  Jackie was a bit soft-spoken.  I think she said, “Thanks for coming.”  Honestly, in the excitement of the moment I am not sure what she said.  Soon, the picture was snapped, and I knew my time was over.  Before I walked away I think I said, “You’re the greatest Jackie!”  I think she said, “Thanks!”  Oh… I wanted to say so much more!  I forgot to tell her my name (not that it matters).  I wanted to tell her how much I admired her for her voice, her kindness, and most of all her faith in God.  I wanted to tell her that I believed she was making a difference in the world.  But, before I knew it, I was out of there.  The time with Jackie may have been only several seconds, but the memories will last forever.

On to the concert.  We still had about 45 minutes before the concert would start at 7:30 pm.  My wife arrived at Heinz Hall to meet me since she did not get to go to M&G.   We hung out in the lobby talking with fans, taking pictures, and soaking in the atmosphere.  We soon went to our seats in the front row center section.  The seats were incredible!  We were about 4 feet from the stage.   Jackie would eventually be singing probably about 8 feet from where we were sitting.  Soon, the lights started to dim, the concert master tuned the orchestra, and we were underway.  At that moment, I wanted the time to slow down so that I could savor every minute of this experience.  The entire Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) was there to play for Jackie.  They started out with 2 music intermezzos from the opera Carmen (Entr’acte – Act 4, and Act 3 respectively).  I absolutely love these selections as a concert opener for Jackie.  It sets the mood perfectly,  and the PSO played them beautifully.  It gave me goosebumps, and Jackie hasn’t even come out yet.  Once the orchestra completed the selections from Carmen to a rousing applause  the orchestra suddenly starts into the haunting introduction of “Pure Imagination.”  At this time, I could feel the rush of emotion take me over, as I knew Jackie would soon be coming out.  Suddenly, out she comes in a beautiful turquoise dress  that I have seen photos of but never seen in person.  She looked spectacular with the lights shimmering off her dress.  The introduction of the song finishes, and then Jackie starts into “Pure Imagination.”  Her voice is as pure and wonderful as I have ever heard it. The orchestra and Jackie were now one, and the music was like listening to her Songs From the Silver Screen CD, only better!  One by one, Jackie sang through the songs on her set list and all I could do was pray that somehow time would just slow down to a halt because I didn’t want the moment to end.  I was in a state of bliss!  There she was,  just 8 feet away and sometimes even closer when she would walk to our side of the stage.   Jackie’s family sat about 8 rows back from where we sat and it was obvious that Jackie was giving them extra attention.  You could tell that she was very happy to have her family there in the audience and it showed.  She made it a point to wave to as many audience members as she could between songs during all the many cheers that came her way.  One special treat that we got as a bonus for being in the front row is that during intermission, Jackie’s family came in and out of the concert hall through the front row aisle just inches from where we were standing.  It was great to see Jackie’s siblings, her grandparents, and several other family members and/or friends whom I did not recognize, walk by our seats.  They kept to themselves and tried to be inconspicuous, moving through our area rapidly.  It was really great to see this wonderful family!  Jackie’s mother and father (Mike and Lisa) were not in the audience.  I am assuming they were backstage.  Lisa did come out at intermission (rapidly) to remove the set-list for the first half from the stage floor.  At intermission, my wife and I remained in our seating area.  I had several people come up to us because they thought WE were family.  This happened to us at the last concert we attended at Pittsburgh too.  It must be the Jackie buttons we wore, or the Jackie M&G pass that I was wearing that may lead people to think this.  It is sort of flattering, but I have to tell them that we are just fans of Jackie.  Many wanted to know where we got the buttons.  Several people who were patrons of the PSO talked with us too.  Some had never heard Jackie and were floored at how well she sang.  Soon the intermission was over and we were on to the second half (oh nooo!  concert is going by way too fast!).   The orchestra starts into Pirates of the Caribbean as a lead-in for the second half (I was hoping they would do something a little higher up to their level, but that is the standard set-list for her concerts on this tour).  Soon, Jackie would be coming out for the second half wearing a spectacular dress that may fans have been raving about.  It is absolutely spectacular as it explodes with shimmers of light!  I now know that pictures cannot do it justice, you have to see it for real as others have said as well.  Jackie then sings the second half with various songs from her CDs (Songs From the Silver Screen, and Dream With Me).   There is no doubt in this fan’s mind that Jackie still has plenty of fire-power in that gorgeous voice of hers.  Jumaane Smith (a talented guest trumpeter who tours with Jackie) also performed his solos brilliantly as well as his duet with Jackie on The Summer Knows.  Jackie poured herself into her songs to give everything she had for the home crowd.  She finished to a roaring applause and came out for 3 curtain calls and two encores.  Maybe on other concerts she would have only done one encore, but I am guessing she wanted to give her all to the home crowd.  Everyone generously showed their appreciation with roaring applause and standing Os.  We didn’t want to let her go!

After the concert was over we didn’t want to leave until the ushers told us we had to go.  I talked to some fans afterwards outside Heinz Hall.  Some of the fans whom I had talked with were people I hadn’t seen at the dinner, but had recognized from the last time I was in Pittsburgh to see Jackie back in December of 2011.  One fan I remember in particular had his young 8 year-old daughter with him.  They were both beaming from the concert.  It was great to see young kids at the concert too.  Jackie certainly does transcend to all age groups.

Thank you to Jackie and her family for making all of this possible.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am for getting to experience the joy of meeting Jackie again and attending this concert!  It was fabulous!

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