Ann Arbor: A symphony of anticipation

In my excitement for this evening’s debut of David singing with an orchestra I went looking on the internet for details. The only regret for me is that the marketing director for the NJSO is not as resourceful as the gentleman employed by the A2SO, oh well…today the Michiganers (are they called that?) have all the luck….

Reprinted from … The concert, an addition to the symphony’s regular season, is a bit unusual since the performing arts have been among those especially hard-hit by the economy. “Where other orchestras are cutting concerts to balance budgets, we’re adding a concert,” said Dave Siefkes, the A2SO marketing director. “Symphonies around the country are all trying different things, they are more willing to look beyond the traditional. … The thing that drove it for me was trying to get a broader audience.” Rest of article here. Concert Review
by Roger Lelievre

I’ll admit, after the first half of pop singer David Archuleta’s concert with the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra Friday night, I was struggling to keep my inner Simon Cowell in check. But for the second half, it was Paula Abdul all the way.

The first half of the “Christmas From the Heart” program at Hill Auditorium was a surprising disappointment. Archuleta, “American Idol” runner up in 2008 and thus familiar with the ways of acerbic judge Cowell and the more gentle Abdul, seemed to lack confidence. Control, pacing and pitch were all over the map, and many high notes were left untouched.

Sharply dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and tie, Archuleta appeared most comfortable with the Spanish Christmas carol “Riu Riu Chiu” and Sting’s “Fields of Gold.” He accompanied himself on the piano for Vanessa Carlton’s “1,000 Miles,” and sounded good enough, but was surprisingly weak on his pop hits, “Zero Gravity” and “Crush.”

Was he nervous? Intimidated by his first-ever full show with a symphony? Wishing he were at home for Thanksgiving? Whatever it was, it left me wondering if the millions who voted for him on “Idol” were responding more to his sweet charm than his musicality. But in the second part of the show, both attributes were in evidence — a potent combination that could take him far. During “What Child Is This,” I could see the performer I hope he will eventually become. He sang from the heart and it was pure gold.

This was the Archuleta I was hoping to hear, his voice on standards such as “Ave Maria” and “Silent Night” powerful and filling Hill Auditorium the way it was meant to be filled. The standing ovation after the latter was earned and deserved. He seemed so much more at ease after the break, and his voice reflected the change, especially on the French carol “Patapan” and the lovely ballad “Merry Christmas To Me,” which he said he was performing in public for the first time Friday night.

As for his between-song comments, well, let’s just say he’s got so much energy he seldom seemed to finish a thought, or even a sentence, before he hurried off to the next one. He seemed nonplussed by the screaming teens and tweens and the shouts of “We love you, David” in between songs, and waited patiently for the fuss to die down.

For an encore, he offered an impressive “O Holy Night” that was spiritual and powerful. Then, clutching a bouquet of red roses, he waved to his cheering, screaming fans, touched some hands in the front row, and was gone.

The audience was a cross-generational mix, with many of the diehard “Archies” in the choice seats down front. During intermission there was probably more texting going on than usual at an A2SO concert, and I can’t recall ever seeing glow sticks at the symphony before.

Conducted by Music Director Arie Lipsky, the symphony, as usual, sounded superb. Leroy Anderson’s “A Christmas Festival” got things off on the right foot, but it was Anderson’s familiar “Sleigh Ride” that put me in a holiday mood.

Audience members were clearly delighted with the show.

“It’s fun seeing someone with so much talent, who is only going to get better,” said Ann Arborite Jim Fuester during intermission. “He’s so fresh and has so much energy.”

Carly Dempsey, also a local fan, said she too was thrilled with the performance.

“I like that he’s really honest. When he’s up there, he’s a little shy, but it’s natural. I think he sounded great — it’s impressive what he can do with an orchestra,” she said.

Alas, there were many empty seats on the main floor; upwards of 1,800 (out of 3,500) tickets were sold, according to A2SO Executive Director Mary Stefek Blaske. Although the turnout may not have been what was expected, you have to give the Ann Arbor Symphony credit for trying something different. This new partnership with Radio Disney is exciting and I hope it will continue, with the next show on a non-holiday weekend, which may have had an effect on crowd size.

Meanwhile, this is only the beginning for David Archuleta. It will be fun, someday, to say we saw him when.

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31 Responses to Ann Arbor: A symphony of anticipation

  1. TOfan says:

    Refnaf and I and are hubbies have arrived safe and sound in Ann Arbor and are trying to contain our pre-show excitement. eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee … not working.

    Happy, I’d read that piece before and kept thinking back to your JustDavid article “Last night I went to the symphony” … your dream has come true!!!!

    Will fill you guys in as soon as we can … looking so forward to meeting yjfanofdavid, stenocruiser and everyone else … (breathe, breathe).

    Here’s a link for the AnnieDAFG/annyo cellcast tonight!

    Knock us dead, David!!!!!

  2. Kizzi says:

    TOfan…you’re there!!!

    A cell cast too! 🙂

    Can’t wait. Thanks so very, very much!

  3. happy says:

    oh to be joining you all in Ann Arbor… cant’ wait to here from you all…… 🙂

  4. awestruck says:

    Any little tid bit… no matter how small…

  5. ninaf says:

    So excited to hear all attendees stories. I’m hoping someone can sneak a phone/camera in. I’m going out for my birthday dinner tonight, but believe me, I will be checking back in. What a dream it must be to hear David with that orchestra!! I am so envious!!

  6. Kizzi says:

    Nina -♫ ♪♫ Happy Birthday To You! ♫ ♪

    David with an Orchestra is a dream..happy’s dream from earlier this year too.

    Set list for tonight —->

  7. Kizzi says:

    TwitVid snippet of Crush:

  8. happy says:

    kizzi- aren’t you the ninja…. 🙂

  9. Kizzi says:

    lol – happy – just perusing the fan sites; family off to Waffle House while I cough and sniffle!

  10. happy says:

    oh no!! say it ain’t so…. colds are not allowed as we approach December!

    nina- Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday dear nina-my-concertgoing-friend-and-roomie, happy birthday to you! ….. have some cake for me please. 🙂

  11. Kizzi says:

    Set List from Ann Arbor:

    A Christmas Festival (orchestra only)
    Angels We Have Heard/Jesu Joy
    Riu Riu Chiu
    Zero Gravity
    To Be With You
    The Riddle
    “Trepak” From the Nutcracker (orchestra only)
    Fields of Gold
    1000 Miles


    “Waltz of the Flowers” from the Nutcracker (orchestra only)
    What Child Is This
    Ave Maria
    Sleigh Ride (orchestra only)
    A Merry Christmas to Me
    Silent Night

    And….the Encore…dang the screaming is going on and on…YEEESSSSSS… O Holy Night Won’t be a dry eye in the concert hall.

    Now we wait to see if any stealth videographers were able to work their magic.

    That “Crush” snippet TwitVid was such a teaser. “Crush” sung in a black suit & tie with a full Orchestra –WOWZA!

  12. Kizzi says:

    Well TOfan, Refnaf, SF et al who were at Ann Arbor, all I can say is it must have been truly an experience of a lifetime.

    Sleep peacefully, safe travels tomorrow and….crumbs, sighs, pixs of crumpled program pages, kleenex crushed and damp with tears…any little ole’ thing you can share would be heavenly.

    I saw on Twitter that David had tears during Silent Night and Ave Maria……*sniff* *tearing up*

  13. Kizzi says:

    Few more tidbits:

    According to PriErikaKothari on Twitter David had Thanksgiving Dinner at the Symphony Orchestra’s conductors home. 🙂

    Also same person said she recorded Silent Night and O Holy Night audio but not video b/c camera’s not allowed.

    AnnieDAFG Ann Arbor show Twitter List – can read concert goers comments —->

    David reportedly got red roses (??from someone in audience or formally??) and also reportedly “hugged” the conductor.

    Kristin_514 (on Twitter): “We just had a womderful conversation with the symphony conductor in the lobby of the hotel. He loves David!” hmmm,…..I mean, seriously, who doesn’t?! 😉

    ArchuletaFan09 (on Twitter): “Videos and pictures weren’t allowed, but they didn’t catch me until during Zero Gravity. ;)” There may be videos – oh, yes, please, please, please

    Til Tomorrow SnowAngelz

  14. awestruck says:

    thank you KIZZI for all the tid bits!

  15. TOfan says:

    okay peeps, you asked for crumbs, and that’s about all I can give because that concert has crumbled me to bits.

    sorry, this will be completely stream of consciousness… I am so out of it right now, I tried to pay for my glass of wine with Canadian money.

    Kizzi, you have your finger on the pulse because yes, David did get roses … from SF herself!!! (It was amazing to spend time with SF, Stenocruiser, yjfanofdavid, KT, Lorna, Bluebarsa, Tracy, FG, Betsy and everyone else … including our wonderful husbands (to quote Mr. Refnaf: “It was stupendous!)

    You were right about everything else, Kizzi:

    The conductor did hug David … and from the looks on the faces of much of the symphony, they wanted to do the same.

    Tears … oh yes, they were there. He wiped them away during Ave Maria as he went off into another dimension and took us all with him. It was sacred and sublime. A once-in-a-lifetime experience that left me trembling for most of the rest of the show. All I can say is, thank God, he left the stage right afterwards and the orchestra started playing “Sleigh Ride” because all of us were literally in an ArchuStupor and needed time to recover.

    I lost count of the standing ovations and this was from a crowd of all ages, men and women, kids and teens, many David fans, but also symphony subscribers and even staff. The young woman who took our ticket told us she was initially upset she had to work tonight until she found out who it was. She was practically jumping up and down with excitement.

    Other highlights for me were The Riddle (omg let there be video), Fields of Gold (ditto), What Child is This … geez, the whole dang thing.

    The Hill Auditorium is magnificent … the famed acoustics lived up to their reputation. And it was glorious to hear that Voice fill up every inch of the place with not another sound to be heard except the sweet strains of that symphony.

    For once, the magnificence of the music, the musicians and the venue were on par with David’s own.

    Other highlights:
    the way he introduced each song in his own awkward yet eloquent way, and gave assured signals to the conductor to pass on to the orchestra like the pro that he is;

    the soulful humming in Riu Riu Chiu that will haunt me forever

    the way he improvised and kept toe to toe with the orchestra even on brand new songs

    and THAT VOICE!!!!!!!!!!!! never ever sounded so rich, so full, so divinely beautiful.

    To hear David sing like that is to fall in love with life itself

    I need to lie down now

    Peace & love everybody (sorry, longest comment ever)

  16. refnaf says:

    virtual (((hugs))) to all, feeling so blessed to have had this experience. What a feeling.!!!!! Ditto to all that TOfan has said…. his between song banter, his beaming smile, the reception he received from his adoring fans, and his VOICE!!! Can’t say more right now, praying for vids or at the least audio…. night peeps!

  17. TOfan says:

    oh, forgot to mention how cool it was to hear Crush performed with a full orchestra. David’s face lit up as soon as the baton dropped and stayed that way through the whole song. Best. Crush. Ever.

    There’s gotta be some clandestine vids … this concert must be shared by all.

    Esp. {{{Happy}}} 😆

  18. knotliser says:

    TOfan and refnaf, thank you so much for checking in despite your stupor. Reports are trickling in and we are all reveling in the crumbs. I am so sad I could not be at this concert yet so happy that you both were. emilyluvsarchie has audio of all but three of the songs. I think someone else might have the rest. Here is The Riddle:
    I wish you a speedy recovery, but maybe you should just enjoy the state you must be in for a while. Sleep well.

  19. betsyjaney says:

    Loved meeting you ladies! I will never forget tonight as long as I live.

  20. Kizzi says:

    TOfan & Ref – Thank you so very much. Even on the crappier than ever before heard cellcast, it had a quality of surreal and otherworld. Can’t wait for another crumb or two…or one million and eleven 🙂

    Just listened to the audio of Ave Maria from emilylovesarchie’s youtube account. (Thanks for the link to The Riddle – also awesome – knotliser — {{{hugs}} to you)

    This has me in tears AGAIN

  21. Kizzi says:

    The Riddle from knotliser‘s link:

  22. Kizzi says:


  23. Kizzi says:

    Crush – with David introducing – video but not focused on David

  24. Kizzi says:

    O Holy Night:

    Here is EmilyLuvsArchie’s YouTube description (ahem…apt name for this young lady 🙂 ):

    COME BACK DAVIDDDDDDDD!! come bakkk!! please please please por favor mi amigo!! mi amor!! por favorrr!! whoooooooooooooo!!! screamsss!!! more screamsss!! smiling orchestra ppl!! awesomeness!! happy!! and there opoens the door, theres that bubbk faaace, bouncin back over to pour his heart out into another beautiful song for us lucky souls, ah and may i mention he is loooookin fiiiiiiiiine!! black suit and tie , fits perfectly!! looks soo classy!! and thosee shoes!! oh my goshhhhhers!! theyre like black leather sperry topsiders, and they were epic! everryone in the world rele should have a pair of theese babys!! they rock! soo any wayyyyy…. the song… ahh i know what he’s gonna do.. this is hisss christmas sng.. o holy night.. deep brethes ppl cause ur not gnna be brethein again for awhile. “ooooo holy nighhhhtttt” …..and then itsa blurr.. totall blur.. eyes water up, get a lil shaky, wanna go around and hug every single person in the room. ….gahhh that song!! …i dont think i’ve ever read a description that ever fully described the perfectness of david and this song… david archuleta + o holy night=WOW

  25. Kizzi says:

    Fields of Gold with a great introduction & here I thought David playing the baby grand and singing was incredible but this, this, this….is aBsOlUtElY FrEaKiN Oh My Gosh Ashley Mind Blowing What Just Happened Did I Hear What I Just Heard Senses Shattering INCREDIBLE….another readjustment to the space-time continuum…a new reality….*sniff* *eyes tearing up AGAIN*:

  26. Kizzi says:

    A Merry Christmas To Me….hmmmm…..could this be a soundtrack to a future Disney movie??!!!!

  27. Josie says:

    I love all my snowangelz…just finished listening to these audios from Ann Arbor and I have just two questions:

    1. how does David keep going higher on the scale of awesomeageness and;

    2. how is anyone who attended still alive?

  28. Abrra says:

    I am working on a Christmas Tour Live! CD This concert gave 2 unique songs, Crush ( with symphony) and A Merry Christmas To Me, he 1st ever performance live. I have the duet with Lupe from SLC 1st show as well. Knotliser has offered to do the cover/track list art. I am so happy this one will look and sound so nice!


  29. TOfan says:

    Happy, hope you don’t mind, I updated your post with the review above.

    I must say, I don’t agree with the reviewer’s criticism about the first half of the show. Yes, David did seem very nervous walking out at first to front that orchestra, practically getting lost among them. He looked so tiny up there, you almost wondered, “Where’d he go?”

    Then he started singing, and it was more “Where’d they go?”

    There was little room for him to move around and you could tell it was a challenge to try to contain that boundless energy of his, esp. on ZG and even RRC, but he channeled it into the music … The Riddle and Fields of Gold were off-the-charts soulful and stirring.

    Still trying to process everything … but these words came to mind to me this morning:

    His a gift so rare and fine
    Blessed by a light Divine

    Heading back to the Great White North {{{hugs}} to all!

  30. djxox says:

    hey all~ Hope everyone had a very Happy Thanksgiving~

    look what I found!

    Pat A Pan.. Bakersfield… thanks to justmellowdee

  31. Kizzi says:

    hi dj – thanks for Pat-A-Pan; seriously beautiful!

    Here’s Fields of Gold from Bakersfield:

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