News Release

Tabernacle Choir Celebrates the Savior’s Birth in 2023 Christmas Concert

Guest artists Michael Maliakel and Lesley Nicol help celebrate the season

Broadway’s Michael Maliakel and Downton Abbey’s Lesley Nicol have joined The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square as the featured guest artists at this year’s Christmas concerts at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“I can’t believe I’m doing this, honestly. Like it feels it feels really, really special,” Maliakel said.

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Under the direction of Mack Wilberg, music director of the Choir, and Ryan Murphy, associate music director, Maliakel and Nicol are ringing in the Christmas spirit with live audiences during this long-standing holiday tradition.

“We met with Michael in New York City and Lesley in a virtual meeting, and we just knew immediately that this was going to be a special collaboration,” Wilberg explained.

The Choir is also joined by the Orchestra at Temple Square and the Bells at Temple Square.

Nearly 15,000 people attended the first concert on Thursday evening, December 14, 2023. Full capacity is limited due to ongoing construction on Temple Square. Concerts are also scheduled for Friday and Saturday evenings, December 15 and 16, beginning at 8 p.m. Tickets have already been distributed for the free performances.

Leaders of the Choir and the guest artists met with the media at the Conference Center on Friday morning, December 15.

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square hosts a news conference to discuss the 2023 Christmas concert in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Friday, December 15, 2023. 2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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“It is the mission of The Tabernacle Choir to bring a sense of peace and healing, and this season is a special time for that purpose,” Choir President Michael O. Leavitt said.

“My mom put me in the church choir when I was eight years old, and I was hooked from then onwards. And The Tabernacle Choir sets the standard for what is possible in choral music,” Maliakel added. “There’s nothing like Christmas music—it’s just the atmosphere of the season. All of it is so special.”

“It’s strangely intimate. I don’t know how that could be, but it is,” Nicol said. “I feel it’s just the most exquisite thing to be standing next to because the music is so glorious, and the singing is so glorious. I’m kind of like in a warm bath.”

The concert opens with two French carols, “Sing We Now of Christmas” and “Noe! Noe!” Maliakel joins with the Choir to sing holiday favorites, such as “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Organist Richard Elliott performs “To the Cradle Run,” featuring “Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella.” He was accompanied by the Gabriel Trumpet Ensemble.

Nicol tells the story of French writer Victor Hugo and the Christmas children and narrates the Christmas story found in Luke 2.

Mack Wilberg, music director of The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, and actor Lesley Nichol participate in a news conference in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Friday, December 15, 2023. Nichol is a guest artist for the Christmas concert. 2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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“We knew that we were going to have a story that that is a combination of French [music] and the English connection. And so much of the music, whether you recognize it or not, was French,” Wilberg added.

The concert concludes with the Choir’s traditional rendition of “Angels from Realms of Glory,” also a French carol.

“It will be hard to top Christmas after this Christmas, I think,” Maliakel said.

New York City Religious Leaders Attend the Concert

The Church of Jesus Christ invites government, interfaith and community leaders to the Christmas concerts every year to enjoy the world-class concert and celebrate the Christmas season. An interfaith delegation from New York City attended this year’s concert at the invitation of senior Church leaders. This group of influential religious leaders toured Church sites in northern Utah to learn more about the Latter-day Saint faith, including the Orem Utah Temple open house and the Church’s Welfare Square in Salt Lake City on Thursday, December 14.

This visit is a continuation of the Church’s significant relationship building and outreach efforts with one hundred twenty New York area leaders. Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was recently in New York City to thank some 60 faith-based organizations who along with the Church are collaborating on more than 60 projects to bless over 42,000 children and their families in the New York metro area this holiday season.

About the Artists

Michael Maliakel (pronounced “Molly-uh-kell”) is currently starring in the title role of Disney’s “Aladdin” on Broadway. An award-winning Indian American actor and singer, Maliakel was recently featured in two PBS concert specials: “Broadway’s Brightest Lights,” alongside Broadway luminary Megan Hilty, and “An Evening with Lerner and Loewe.” He recently made his Kennedy Center debut in the critically acclaimed production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard,” starring Tony Award winner Stephanie J. Block. Before the pandemic, Maliakel toured North America with the 25th anniversary production of “The Phantom of the Opera.”

“I can't believe I'm doing this honestly. ... It feels ... really special,” guest artist Michael Maliakel tells the media at a news conference to discuss The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square's 2023 Christmas concert in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Friday, September 15, 2023. 2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Lesley Nicol has enjoyed a hugely diverse career including Broadway, the West End, movies and television. Her television career in the U.K. has encompassed both drama and comedy: “Blackadder,” “Shameless,” “Inspector George Gently,” “Hancock and Joan,” and “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” She played Mrs. Patmore in ITV’s hugely successful “Downton Abbey” for six years and in both feature films. Her film work includes the multi-award-winning “East Is East” and its sequel, “West Is West.” She has just completed filming “Mr. Bates vs. The Post Office,” a new ITV series to be released in 2024.

Sunday Broadcast

Tickets will not be required for the 30-minute weekly “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast in the Conference Center on Sunday, December 17, at 9:30 a.m. (MST). The guest artists are scheduled to perform on the broadcast, which can also be viewed live on YouTube.

A Grammy Award-winning, multiple Emmy Award-winning, all-volunteer choral ensemble, The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square is made up of 360 men and women who join their talents to create their trademark, instantly recognizable sound. They are accompanied by The Orchestra at Temple Square, a 150-member symphony orchestra, and The Bells at Temple Square, a 32-member handbell choir, which are also both all-volunteer. Together, they provide inspiring music that has the power to help people feel closer to the divine and celebrate God’s love for all His children.

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