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Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square takes audience home for the holidays

By Genelle Pugmire - | Dec 18, 2021

Courtesy Intellectual Reserve

American singer and actor Megan Hilty joins The Tabernacle Choir on Temple Square as a special guest for the 2022 Christmas concert at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2021.

The ever-popular Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square Christmas Concert — which was filmed on Thursday, Friday and Saturday — will provide the 2022 BYUtv and PBS audiences with a dazzling performance of carols, stories and memories of home next Christmas.

Each year for the past two decades, The First Presidency, which now includes President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors Presidents Dallin H. Oaks and Henry B. Eyring, have offered the concert as a special gift to the community. On Thursday, Nelson and is wife Wendy Watson Nelson were special guests. Other general authorities and church leaders were also in attendance.

With the dramatic voice of actress Megan Hilty and narration from actor Neal McDonough, the choir and orchestra sang carols from medieval and old England to the traditional family-folk carols from Ireland.

It was Ireland that was featured in the majority of the evening’s entertainment. Both Hilty and McDonough are of Irish descent and celebrate traditions from the Emerald Island in their own homes. McDonough is a devout Catholic with stories of family he love and belief in Christ. He shares his feelings of those beliefs throughout the evening.

In talking about their heritage, the two recalled the strength and resilience of the Irish people, and the love they have for the Christ child at Christmas.

Courtesy Intellectual Reserve

Actor Neal McDonough joins The Tabernacle Choir on Temple Square as a special guest narrator for the 2022 Christmas concert at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2021.

McDonough said with all the preparation the goes on for Christmas the, “most important preparation is in your hearts.” He encouraged the audience to be like Christ, a light in the darkness, which helps people be willing to love and serve others.

With Hilty singing the popular English carol the “Holly and the Ivy” McDonough added the two plants signify Mary and the Christ Child. But more so the Holly branches represent the crown of thorns Christ wore with the red berries representing the blood he would spill for mankind.

One of the showpieces of the evening was the Celtic Christmas medley, arranged by Tabernacle organist Richard Elliott.

Elliott is known for his exceptional footwork on the organ and he was joined by Daron Bradford on the penny whistle, Rob Ricks on the fiddle and Dany Saulier on the bodhran drum.

Hilty favored the audience with her rich, soprano voice in singing a medley of family Christmas tunes including Round and Round the Christmas Tree, a Place Called Home from A Christmas Carol, and Home for the Holidays.

Courtesy Intellectual Reserve

Artificial snow flurries fall as The Tabernacle Choir on Temple Square performs “O Holy Night” by Adolphe-Charles Adam at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2021.

McDonough spoke of the Three Symbols of Christmas and was the master of ceremonies for the evening. His commentary was intertwined with Hilty’s music and LDS Church Christmas video featuring the birth of Christ and the visitation of the shepherds.

Although the traditional dance troupes did not participate this year, the show was not lacking. The backdrop included members of the choir holding flickering lights, snow falling inside and a set that looked like a castle laden with Christmas greenery and several Christmas trees.

Because this was not open to the public there were only about 4,000 guests in the 21,000 capacity auditorium, with face masks and social distancing.

The concert begins with several medieval and English carols on the Conference Center stage in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2021. The carols include a special arrangement of “The Holly and Ivy” by Mack Wilberg, music director of The Tabernacle Choir on Temple Square.

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