News Release

The Tabernacle Choir Records 2022 Christmas Concert

Singer/actress Megan Hilty and actor Neal McDonough headline

The Tabernacle Choir on Temple Square is recording its 2022 Christmas concert in the Conference Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The Choir is joined by the Orchestra at Temple Square, Bells at Temple Square and Gabriel Trumpet Ensemble.

“This is part of Christmas for a lot of people, so having the Choir and Orchestra performing in the PBS special is moving us back to normal,” said Choir President Michael O. Leavitt. “It’s our gift to the world. And it’s an opportunity for us to testify of Jesus Christ and to bring unity and peace to a world that badly needs it.”

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An audience of several thousand, socially distanced (due to COVID-19 restrictions on Temple Square), invited guests attended the broadcast recording on Thursday, December 16, 2021. Similar performances are scheduled for Friday and Saturday nights. The Choir will also broadcast its weekly “Music and the Spoken Word” live on Sunday morning with the guest artists. Prior to COVID, the Conference Center’s 21,000 seats were filled for the popular annual performances. Tickets are not available to the public for any of the performances.

Megan Hilty, an American singer and actress, and multitalented television and screen actor Neal McDonough are the guest artists for the concert, which will air next year on PBS television and BYUtv.

“Every single step of the way has been an absolute joy,” said guest artist Megan Hilty. “From the minute I landed in Salt Lake City, there’s just something about this place that every single person that I’ve worked with or come across, everyone is so kind and warm and caring. In the Orchestra and in the Choir, I’m just totally blown away by the musicianship and the talent and just how warm and lovely everyone is. This has been just a true honor and joy to get to be a part of.”

Hilty had performed with the Choir several years ago and was excited to receive the invitation this fall. “The second I got the invitation to come be a part of the Christmas program, the iconic Christmas program, I [said] ‘yes, I would drop anything to be here and be a part of it.’”

“The thing that I love so much about this show is that it’s putting Christ back in Christmas,” said guest artist Neil McDonough as he sat on the stage for media interviews on Friday.

“I’m so humbled, is the word that just keeps coming up,” said McDonough as he took a long pause and looked around inside the Conference Center that encompasses a city block. “Look at this place. And for [the Choir] to choose me to be that guy, it breaks me up because it’s such an honor.”

The concert begins with several medieval and English carols on the Conference Center stage, including “The Holly and Ivy” sung by Hilty and arranged by the Choir’s music director Mack Wilberg.

Viewers will recognize McDonough, the narrator, from his many screen performances.

The Orchestra plays “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” and the Choir sings the American folk carol “Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head.”

Hilty then also performs a medley of modern Christmas songs such as “’Round and ‘Round the Christmas Tree”; “A Place Called Home,” from a “A Christmas Carol”; and “Home for the Holidays.”

Organist Richard Elliott provides a Celtic Christmas with an Irish jig on “In Dulci Jubilo,” accompanied by a trio playing a penny whistle, fiddle and bodhrán drum. McDonough and Hilty also share stories about their family traditions and Irish roots.

“Both of our guest artists bring an Irish heritage in their ancestry, and it just sort of seemed like it was a perfect fit for what we were trying to do. And of course, the Irish culture is very rich and particularly at Christmastime, so it just all came together in sort of a great way,” said Choir music director Mack Wilberg.

In keeping with tradition, the concert concludes with Wilberg’s arrangement of “Angels from the Realms of Glory,” featuring Hilty, the Tabernacle Choir, Orchestra and Bells at Temple Square.

The stage is decorated in a Christmas motif with jewel tones of blue, purple and green.

Hilty is most recognizable for her portrayal of Ivy Lynn in NBC’s musical drama “Smash.” A Tony Award nominee, she is a dynamic performer both onstage and on-screen. Hilty starred in “Patsy & Loretta” on Lifetime, for which she was nominated for a Critics Choice Award for Best Actress. Hilty’s television credits also include Hulu’s “Difficult People,” the final season of CBS’ “The Good Wife,” and the CBS All Access show “The Good Fight.” She is married to singer and songwriter Brian Gallagher, and they have two children.

McDonough has been seen in over 100 films, including the award-winning Christian film “Greater” (2016), “Captain America” (2014), “Forever Strong” (2008), and “The Warrant” (2020) and nearly 1,000 hours of major television dramas, including his role as Lt. Compton in the World War II miniseries "Band of Brothers," many seasons as Sean Cahill in the hit TV series “Suits,” and his role as General James Harding in Robert Zemeckis's “Project Blue Book.” He has recently finished stage runs as Daddy Warbucks in “Annie” and the title role in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” He and his wife, Ruvé, are the parents of five children.

While the concert that will air in 2022 is being recorded, audiences may enjoy the show produced for broadcast this year. The 2021 Christmas concert is virtual — a unique two-hour retrospective television special titled “20 Years of Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir,” featuring Broadway’s Brian Stokes Mitchell as narrator and guest soloist. The television broadcast is available on PBS and BYUtv.

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