As Jackie Evancho walked onstage on Saturday, October 10, 2015 at the Music Center at Strathmore to perform her “Awakening” concert, the excitement among the packed crowd was palpable, and only increased as Evancho opened her mouth and let loose that astonishingly rich, pure voice.
Evancho burst onto the national stage in 2010 when she finished in second place on the TV show America’s Got Talent, and launched her music career by signing with Columbia Records. Her debut EP, O Holy Night, became 2010’s no. 1 best-selling debut recording and was certified platinum. Her first studio album, Dream with Me, debuted at number 2 and was certified gold, and her album Songs from the Silver Screen debuted at no. 1 on the Billboard Classical charts. She has also taped multiple PBS specials, including one for her latest album, Awakening, that aired in December 2014. She has fans around the world, including Tokyo and Russia, where she performed to sold-out shows. And tonight, she was performing for one of the most enthusiastic audiences I’ve ever seen here in the DC area.
The concert opened with a trio of songs from her newest album, Awakening. These songs (“Take Me There,” “Made to Dream,” and “Memories”) excellently showcased Evancho’s pure, mature soprano, especially her soaring, crystal-clear high notes. The contrast between the maturity and richness of her voice and her youthful appearance and patter in between songs (including a cute, frank complaint about the length of her dress and how she’s always tripping) only highlights her extraordinary talent and just how much of a prodigy she is.
Evancho also sang a handful of songs from Broadway and from the movies, including a beautifully rich version of “The Impossible Dream.” Her versions of “Music of the Night” and “Think of Me” from Phantom of the Opera showed off the intensity of her middle range as she easily went between the lower register and then hit the high notes with ease. Her version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was filled with sweetness and innocence, which complemented well the purity of her voice—and earned her a mid-show standing ovation.
Joined onstage by her pianist and Music Director Peter Kiesewalter, as well as a 12-piece string orchestra, Evancho herself took a turn on the piano when she sang her version of “My Immortal.” A bit of a departure from the classical/pop songs that are her normal fare, seeing her sing a rock song while accompanying herself on the piano was really fun.
The highlight of the concert though was her stunning version of “Nessun Dorma.” Clearly, this is a piece that she is very comfortable with—her comfort and confidence came shining through to make this one of the strongest songs of the night, with gorgeous high notes (earning mid-song applause) and warm rich low notes. Likewise, her encore, “The Lord’s Prayer,” had again those same warm beautiful low notes and richness.
Running Time: One hour and 50 minutes, with one intermission.
Jackie Evancho: Awakening Live In Concert played for one night only on October 10, 2015 at The Music Center at Strathmore – 5301 Tuckerman Lane, in North Bethesda, MD. For tickets for future events, go to their calendar of events.