Concert Review: Ingrid Michaelson w/NSO @ Kennedy Center (12/11/21)

Ingrid Michaelson performs @ Kennedy Center for four holiday shows in December! (Photo from FB @ingridmichaelson)
Ingrid Michaelson (Photo from FB @ingridmichaelson)

Joy to the world.

Ingrid Michaelson came to town with gifts in the form of three Holiday Pops shows at the Kennedy Center, performing with the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO), where I was able to witness the second (matinee at 2pm) show on Saturday, December 11th.

Holiday and Christmas-themed music seems to exist to give one a general sense of happiness and call up comforting memories of previous holiday seasons with loved ones. Yet I often get to the point where I tune out the music, as it has been ubiquitous for so long during the month of December. I usually don’t seek it out either.

But imagine my own joy in listening to someone sing, who love, love, loves Christmas and everything about the holiday season, so unabashedly and with an obvious twinkle in her eye, as Ingrid did.

As the matinee crowd sauntered in, searching for their seats, some with ugly sweaters, others with a happy glow, you could take in the rather glorious setting of the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall. The stage was adorned with festive wreaths and Christmas trees, and an explosion of poinsettias, book ending the NSO’s empty seats, music sheet stands and the podium.

The NSO grandly made an entrance and started the show with “Holiday Overture” and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” conducted by Steven Reineke. They would go on to perform five songs overall without Ingrid present.

Ingrid entered with two additional artists, Allie Moss (guitar and vocals) and Hannah Winkler (keyboard and vocals), and began performing a series of songs from her re-released Songs For the Season (Deluxe Edition) album (originally released in 2018, now with six more songs) and from ‘her canon’ (as she called her other non-holiday music). She gave us eight songs from Songs For the Season, and added six of her canon songs, so we could definitely walk away confident we attended an Ingrid Michaelson concert, not simply a Holiday Pops show.

Ingrid’s first song was the infectious “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”, then a The Andrews Sisters and Bing Crosby cover of “Mele Kalikimaka”. 

The Holiday season is not just about joy, there can also be a sense of melancholy, for those loved ones you can’t see or for the gray skies of snowy days. Ingrid observed she was rotating between singing a happy song, followed by a sad song, like therapy. As she took us on this musical journey, one felt these gleeful highs, and the somber lows keenly, as with the last song before the Intermission. Her “Winter Song” (originally recorded in collaboration with Sara Bareilles) hit especially hard, as a beacon of light during the coming storms.

Ingrid spoke with the audience often, sharing stories and jokes. The biggest laughs came when joking that she couldn’t raise her arms passed a certain point (demonstrating the line she couldn’t cross) or her dark, twinkly dress would raise up too high and the front row would get a show. And when she claimed to love the 2pm rock and roll lifestyle, implying most artists aren’t awake so early.

Being a Kennedy Center show, we had an Intermission, and the return saw NSO play three more songs before Ingrid, Hannah and Allie returned. During this half of the show, Ingrid sang two of the more upbeat and joyful songs from Songs For the Season, from anywhere really, the Brenda Lee cover “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year”, the latter she originally recorded with Zooey Deschanel and is one of the additions to the Deluxe Edition, which by itself is a reason to get the new edition, even if you have the original album!

Next time you have the chance to see a Holiday Pops with Ingrid Michaelson and the NSO, do it. Hopefully, next year.

Setlist

(Performers in Italics)

  1. Holiday Overture (National Symphony Orchestra)
  2. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (National Symphony Orchestra)
  3. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! (Ingrid Michaelson with Allie Moss, Hannah Winkler and the NSO)
  4. Mele Kalikimaka (The Andrews Sisters with Bing Crosby and Vic Schoen and His Orchestra cover) (Ingrid Michaelson with Allie Moss, Hannah Winkler and the NSO)
  5. Be OK (Ingrid Michaelson with Allie Moss, Hannah Winkler and the NSO)
  6. To Begin Again (Ingrid Michaelson with Allie Moss, Hannah Winkler and the NSO)
  7. Christmas Valentine (Ingrid Michaelson with Allie Moss, Hannah Winkler and the NSO)
  8. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Hugh Martin cover) (Ingrid Michaelson and the NSO)
  9. Winter Wonderland (Ingrid Michaelson with Allie Moss, Hannah Winkler and the NSO)
  10. You and I (Ingrid Michaelson with Allie Moss, Hannah Winkler and the NSO)
  11. Winter Song (Ingrid Michaelson with Allie Moss, Hannah Winkler and the NSO)

Intermission

  1. Jingle Bell Rock (National Symphony Orchestra)
  2. Miz Zeh Hidlik (Behold the Lights) (National Symphony Orchestra)
  3. I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm (National Symphony Orchestra)
  4. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree (Brenda Lee cover) (Ingrid Michaelson with Allie Moss, Hannah Winkler and the NSO)
  5. Over the Rainbow (Harold Arlen cover) (Ingrid Michaelson with Allie Moss, Hannah Winkler and the NSO)
  6. The Chain (Ingrid Michaelson with Allie Moss, Hannah Winkler and the NSO)
  7. The Way I Am (Ingrid Michaelson with Allie Moss, Hannah Winkler and the NSO)
  8. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year (Ingrid Michaelson with Allie Moss, Hannah Winkler and the NSO)

Encore

  1. Auld Lang Syne (Robert Burns cover) (Ingrid Michaelson with Allie Moss, Hannah Winkler and the NSO)

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

One thought on “Concert Review: Ingrid Michaelson w/NSO @ Kennedy Center (12/11/21)”

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