The moment the plane touched down in Salt Lake City I saw in the background the majestic, snow covered mountains. I was now filled with excitement for the grand occasions to unfold. Friends were making sure that I had arrived safely and that there were people close by to meet with in the morning.
The following afternoon, we entered Abravanel Hall and attended a most enjoyable VIP. We spent time with David at the sound check where he introduced for the first time the amazing songs “Fields of Gold” and “The Riddle”. Both songs were to be kept a surprise for the evening concert. Enormous Christmas balls hung from the rafters of the stage as the colorful spotlights shone out beyond them in all directions. Artistically designed snowy Christmas trees, completed the holiday background. The stage was set.
As the people slowly took to their seats, Benton Paul introduced himself. An accomplished singer with a charming personality, Benton Paul provided us with a set of songs that let us know that the concert tour was going to be a wonderful success.
In the shadows of the dimly lit stage, the band swiftly took their places. The houselights went up and the crowd erupted into cheers as David made his way to his rightful place at center stage. As he began to sing, cheers resonated throughout the hall and everyone rose applauding. The young fellow, a native Utahn, had come home again as an accomplished musician, known worldwide in the hearts of millions as a musical phenomena.
Following his pop selections, including the ever popular Zero Gravity, David left the stage with the band for a quick change. A curtain was raised and the stringed instruments, woodwinds and harp came into view. Once again the stage was set and we were about to hear the celebration of Christmas carols arranged especially for him. David’s drummer and guitarist now came under the leadership of the conductor. The complete transformation was genius and answered all of my questions on how he was going to make the transformation from pop music to classical Christmas music. This was my dream, to see David with orchestra and choir.
One by one, each carol took us to new heights of spirituality. The angelic presence of the children’s choir for Ave Maria, added one more touch of reverence and artistry. The swell of the orchestra accompanied by the passion in David’s voice left us in awe and wonderment. In What Child is This David sang quietly and gently as if he actually was seeing the baby in the manger with mother Mary and the protective shepherds watching from a distance. It was becoming truly a magnificent concert.
We applauded and we rose to our feet as David graciously bowed to the audience, shook hands with the conductor, acknowledged the orchestra and left the stage. Thunderous applause gathered momentum until we were confident that he would return for an encore. Smoke swirled up from the stage floor and surrounded the baby grand piano as David reappeared for O Holy Night. Every emotion on his face slowly seeped into our hearts and souls leaving us spellbound. Following the closing notes of the song, he bowed his head once again but this time for a few moments of personal acknowledgment.
As I walked back to my hotel, I felt an overwhelming feeling of serenity. Did this feeling come from the Salt Lake temple in the background, the waterfalls in the walkways, or maybe it was from simply finding myself in one of David’s favorite places. Whatever the reason, it was so wonderful to be there.
When I returned to my room that evening and without a pause, I turned on my computer and listened to him sing once again, as I tried to become settled with the wonders of his amazing voice.
I was delighted that I had made the decision to stay another day to take in the second concert. We were absolutely blessed to have two concerts back to back. Entering the hall for the second evening, I found my seat once again in row seven. I found myself sitting next to the Richard Parkinson and his wife. It was a fun filled evening talking before the concert about music and spotting the special guests as they took their seats.
I wondered if I would be as excited for the second concert, and being of sound musical mind, I enjoyed the second concert just as much as the first. To be able to hear David’s voice one more time before heading back to the east coast was glorious. One of David’s own favorite carols is Pat a Pan. At the beginning there was a technical glitch that would have seen me panic if I was singing, but David did not falter and kept on singing. Following the ending of the carol, appreciative fans rose to the occasion and applauded his expertise.
Kurt Bestor, who arranged David’s scores, was introduced and accompanied David on the piano once again for Ave Maria. Both Mr. Bestor and the orchestra’s conductor showed on their faces the great admiration they hold for David. The orchestra, choir and David were in perfect balance bringing chills to all who watched and tears to many. Concert number two brought us another chance to listen to David and his mother Lupe sing I’ll be Home For Christmas, which was without a doubt an audience favorite ending with another standing ovation. The opening concerts for David’s Christmas tour were over and I knew that I was going to be a little sad but joyful all at the same time.
Leaving Salt Lake City on the beautiful Thanksgiving morning, I wondered how I was going to be able to relate the tales of David’s first opening concerts. I knew that I wanted the readers to be able to visualize what we saw, understand what we had heard and to be able to feel the overwhelming emotions that we would be left with for a very long time.
The title “Christmas From the Heart” is a title perfectly chosen by an artist of great distinction.