Singer Jackie Evancho and the Ocean City Pops helped get their audience into the holiday spirit Saturday night with their enchanting “Christmas in Ocean City” show at the Music Pier.
Evancho, who burst onto the musical scene at age 10 with her stunning debut on “America’s Got Talent,” has since released several platinum and gold albums and had seven consecutive number one hits on Billboard’s classical music charts.
Billboard also named her on its list of “music movers and shakers under the age of 21.” Her albums and digital music resulted in sales of $2.5 million. She has sung to an array of audiences, including Presidents Obama and Trump, and was the youngest artist to perform a solo concert at Lincoln Center in New York.
On Saturday, Evancho’s performance was so eagerly anticipated that the Music Pier was filled nearly to capacity well in advance of the scheduled 7:30 p.m. start. Ocean City is clearly a strong point of Jackie’s fan base. She previously starred in the Night in Venice Parade and sold out the Music Pier for her performance last summer. She also performed on the steps of City Hall as part of the town’s holiday season kick-off events.
Evancho, now 18, and a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., did not disappoint her local admirers on Saturday. She wowed the crowd and received several standing ovations. The show was a mix of traditional and contemporary holiday music, tunes from “The Phantom of the Opera,” and several renditions of classical music favorites, for which Jackie had initially gained fame.
She performed several tunes from her own Christmas album, the critically acclaimed “Someday at Christmas.”
Musical director and pianist for Jackie, Peter Kiesewalter, melded the talented singer’s performance with the stylings of violinists Luigi Mazzocchi, Funda Cizmicioglu, Greg Teperman and Laura Earley, viola players Marka Gwynn Stepper and Kathleen Foster, and cellists Tony Pirollo and Charles DePasquale.
He also showed his own talent as a singer, pianist and conductor of the Pops.
Evancho had an easy rapport with the audience, mixing in personal stories and experiences to enhance the songs. She spoke about her rise to fame and the changes that have occurred in her life since she has become a recognized musical star and celebrity.
She spoke of how at a young age she had been asked to perform the powerful classic “How Great Thou Art” at her Grandmother’s funeral, but was unable to do so, being so devastated at the time by her grandmother’s death.
She explained that since then she has embraced the song and performs it as often as possible at her concerts as a tribute to her grandmother. The Ocean City audience responded with an emotional ovation as Jackie unfurled a beautiful rendition of the hymn, which is based on a Swedish poet’s words and composed more than 130 years ago.
Near the conclusion of the show, the crowd erupted in a thundering standing ovation, which brought Jackie out for a memorable encore.
As Evancho performed perhaps the most famous Christmas song of them all, “White Christmas,” artificial “snow” began to fall from the Music Pier rafters, giving the venerable old theater the feeling of the interior of a snow globe.
The audience members were sent buzzing into the night, knowing that they had witnessed an artist who has progressed from a pop culture phenomenon to child prodigy to the mature presentation of a young woman seemingly destined to become a huge name in the entertainment industry.
The concert was made possible by Manco and Manco Pizza.