News Release

The Tabernacle Choir’s Television Special Is 2021 Christmas Concert

Guest artists join December taping sessions for 2022

The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square will not perform its traditional Christmas concerts for a public audience in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2021. Instead, choir president Michael O. Leavitt has announced that the December Christmas musical event will be 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 will be available on PBS and BYUtv.

Leavitt explained, “Every year, the Christmas concert by The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square is a gift to the world from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This year, our gift is this 20th anniversary special with highlights from two decades of concerts celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Since COVID precluded holding and recording a live Christmas concert last December, we are extremely pleased to continue our decades-long tradition of Christmas programming on PBS, with this exceptional broadcast.”

Tapings for 2022

The choir president also announced that to continue the TV special tradition in 2022, taping sessions with the choir organization ensembles and guest artists will be held in December. These taping sessions will not be open to the public. A small group of invited guests comprised primarily of choir organization members’ families, will be seated in the audience for the closed tapings.

Guest artists Megan Hilty, actress and singer, and actor and producer Neal McDonough will join the choir for the December TV taping sessions.

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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 on stage and on screen. Hilty starred in “Patsy & Loretta” on Lifetime. The role earned her 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 CBS All Access show “The Good Fight.”

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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 Lt. Compton in the World War II miniseries "Band of Brothers," many seasons as Sean Cahill in the hit TV series “Suits,” and Robert Zemekis's “Project Blue Book.”

Television Special

“Putting together this retrospective was a remarkable, unexpected journey,” remarked Mack Wilberg, music director of The Tabernacle Choir. “The difficult part was selecting what should be included, given the wealth of material we had to work with. We also wanted to provide the interesting story of how the Christmas concert has been put together, featuring not only the army of volunteer performers from the choir organization, but also the many world-class guest artists we have had the privilege of working with over the past 20 years.”  

Tony Award-winner Mitchell — known as “Stokes” to his colleagues — narrates the two-hour retrospective program. Stokes demonstrates to the audience that what is featured in the Conference Center every Christmas is more than just the wide range of musical periods and genres and the diversity of guest artists. The special displays a spirit of bringing people together — it’s about Christmas for everyone.

Audiences will view never-before-seen additions to Christmas content, including Brian Stokes Mitchell’s performance of Mack Wilberg’s new arrangement of “That’s What Christmas Means to Me,” with Wilberg at the piano; a new Richard Elliott organ solo (an adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s “Trepak” from Nutcracker Suite); and an amazing rendition of “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly,” recorded using a socially distanced Orchestra at Temple Square. Separately recorded “selfie” videos of each individual choir member were compiled and floated onto the screen, creating a spectacular virtual choir.

“The message of Christmas is universal. … The music, the stories, the singing, the dancing and the sharing are all a reminder that the birth of Jesus Christ is about peace and goodwill for everyone,” Stokes tells the audience. “It’s why the joy of Christmas really is joy to all the world.”

“20 Years of Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir” will air and stream on PBS TV and PBS.org on Monday, December 13, at 7 p.m. mountain/9 p.m. eastern with a reairing on PBS TV on Friday, December 24, at 6 p.m./8 p.m. BYUtv and BYUtv.org will air and stream the program on Thursday, December 16, at 7 p.m./9 p.m. with reairings on BYUtv on Sunday, December 19, at 5 p.m./7 p.m., Friday, December 24, at 8 p.m./10 p.m. and Saturday, December 25, at 1:35 p.m./3:35 p.m. On-demand viewing of the two-hour program will be available on both networks’ websites after the respective premieres on pbs.org/tabernaclechoir and byutv.org.

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