Christmas Concerts

Thousands Attend Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concerts

Guest artists Lea Salonga and Sir David Suchet share their talents with a live audience

Lea Salonga, a featured guest artist at this year’s Christmas concerts by The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, said she’s happy such large gatherings are back.

“It had been a while since we were able to gather that many people in one space to be able to be in communion with live music — because over the pandemic that just wasn’t possible,” she said.

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The first performance was held on Thursday, December 15, 2022, at the Conference Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. Concerts will also be held on Friday and Saturday nights, December 16 and 17, under the direction of Mack Wilberg, music director of the Choir, and Ryan Murphy, associate music director.

Also joining the Choir for this year’s Christmas concert is narrator Sir David Suchet, one of England’s esteemed actors.

Salonga, Suchet and Choir staff met with the media in the Conference Center on Friday afternoon, December 16. The facility seats 21,000 people, but tickets to the performances are limited due to construction in and around Temple Square.

“It’s quite overwhelming. … It’s a lot of seats and it’s not just one level but a few,” Salonga told reporters.

Suchet said he was not familiar with the Choir before he was invited to narrate this year’s Christmas concerts, and he has been impressed with the professionalism of the singers and musicians.

“They are so wonderful, so self-disciplined, and so full of joy. They love what they do, and this is infectious,” he said.

The Choir opened the concert with the traditional English carol “I Saw Three Ships” and “When the Shepherds Saw the Light.”

Salonga sang “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” followed by a rendition of the Filipino Christmas song “Payapang Daigdig.” Later in the concert, she performed several classic Christmas songs, such as “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “O Holy Night” and the Broadway classic “The Story Goes On” from the musical “Baby.”

Concertgoers were invited to get out their cell phones and record brief excerpts of several songs to share on social media, including “When the Shepherds Saw the Light,” “Here We Come A-Caroling” and an organ performance of “On Christmas Night” by Richard Elliott. Near the end of the show, the audience was encouraged to hold up their phones with the light on, like a shining Christmas star, as well as sing a new verse of “Once in Royal David’s City.”

Suchet shares the story of British humanitarian Sir Nicholas Winton during the concert. 

“Doing this show, my takeaway will be the very few lines at the end when I say, ‘one person can make a difference,’” Suchet concluded.

“It has been a fantastic experience,” Salonga added. “I’m not going to forget that sound and being enveloped by it.”

Tickets for this year’s Christmas concerts have already been distributed through a random selection process. Tickets will not be required for the 30-minute weekly “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast that begins at 9:30 a.m. mountain standard time on Sunday, December 18, in the Conference Center. The guest artists are scheduled to perform on the broadcast, which can also be viewed live on YouTube on Sunday morning.

About the Artists

Salonga is best known for her Tony Award-winning role in “Miss Saigon.” In addition to the Tony, she has won the Olivier, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Theatre World awards in the field of musical theater.

Guest artists Lea Salonga and Sir David Suchet and Nick Winton respond to reporters’ questions about The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square annual Christmas concerts this week at a news conference on Friday, December 16, 2022.2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Many fans of all ages recognize Salonga as the singing voice of Princess Jasmine from Disney’s “Aladdin” and Fa Mulan for “Mulan” and “Mulan II.” Salonga’s 2022 Dream Again Tour and her 2019 The Human Heart Tour saw sold-out audiences and record-breaking sales across North America and the United Kingdom. She currently stars in the HBO Max series “Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin.” An avid techie and gamer, Salonga divides her time between the United States and Manila, Philippines.

Suchet played Hercule Poirot in ITV’s “Poirot” for 70 episodes over 24 years. He has also received many awards and nominations for his decades of work on stage in London’s West End and on Broadway. Suchet has played characters such as Iago in “Othello,” Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice” and Caliban in “The Tempest.” He was nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Play for all three roles.

In 2011, Suchet was awarded Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II, and in 2020, he was awarded Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire for his services to drama and charity.

This year’s concerts signal a return to normal after the pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 Christmas concerts and closed the 2021 concerts to the public. The Choir continued its Christmas concert tradition with a special featuring Brian Stokes Mitchell, which was taped in 2020 and aired on television last December. In 2021, Broadway star Megan Hilty and renowned film and television actor Neal McDonough joined the Choir, the Orchestra and the Bells at Temple Square and the Gabriel Trumpet Ensemble for a performance that was taped for airing this year. The concert featuring Hilty and McDonough will be broadcast on BYUtv on Sunday, December 18, at 6 p.m. mountain standard time.

The Grammy and Emmy Award-winning Choir comprises 360 men and women who volunteer 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 all-volunteer organizations. 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.

For more information, please visit thetabernaclechoir.org.

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