Choir's concert for Christmas to be on satellite for first time

Celebrating Savior's birth

Focusing on the celebration of the birth of Christ, the Tabernacle Choir's Christmas concert will be carried for the first time live on the Church's satellite system.

The concert will be performed two evenings, Friday, Dec. 18, and Saturday, Dec. 19. Friday's concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. (MST). Because the concert on Saturday is the one that will be carried live by satellite it will begin an hour-and-a-half earlier, at 6 p.m. (MST). Satellite transmissions may be received only at meetinghouses throughout the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. In the KBYU-TV viewing area, the concert will be rebroadcast Sunday, Dec. 20 at 6 p.m., and Friday, Dec. 25, at 5:30 p.m.

A letter from Church headquarters to area, stake/district, ward/branch leaders in the above locales indicates that the satellite broadcast of the concert is an optional opportunity for those who desire to view it. The broadcast may be made available as determined by the stake presidency.

Tabernacle Choir Christmas concerts have become a much-anticipated tradition on Temple Square in recent years. As recently as the mid-1960s, however, the choir's Christmas performances were minimal. Jerold Ottley, the choir's music director, said that when he sang with the choir in the mid-1960s the choir didn't have a full-blown Christmas concert. "On Thursday evening, we would stop the rehearsal and do some Christmas pieces," he said. "When I became associate conductor in 1974, the choir was doing full Christmas concerts on Thursday evenings.

"Then the concert was moved to the weekend. Popular demand expanded the concert to two nights. Now it has grown into a media event of one kind or another. The concert has been broadcast on radio for many years; in a couple of instances, television specials have been produced to be used in another year. We've also produced several commercial recordings of the concerts." (Please see related article above for information about a PBS special of the choir's 1997 Christmas concert.)

Brother Ottley said that this year's concert is the first to be carried live on the Church satellite system.

"The centerpiece of the concert is a choral presentation by the late composer-arranger Robert Manookin," Brother Ottley said. "It tells of the 'new star' that was seen in both biblical lands and in the western hemisphere. From biblical and Book of Mormon accounts, actors will weave a historical narrative of the Savior's advent, uniting it with songs that foster reverence for the season."

There will be no special guests performing with the choir this year. Soloists will be drawn from the ranks of the choir.

The concert will be Christ-centered, featuring music that tells of the Savior and His birth. Among selections planned for the program are: "E'en so Lord Jesus Quickly Come," "Behold the Handmaid of the Lord," "See the Silent, Lonely Stable," "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing," "Christmas Lullaby," "O Come Emmanuel," "Behold, a New Star Did Appear," "Do You Hear what I Hear?" "Joseph Dearest, Joseph Mine," "Jesus Rest Your Head," "Once in Royal David's City," and "Glory." The audience will join with the choir in singing "Silent Night" and "O Come, All Ye Faithful."

Also featured will be carols from various countries.

The concert is free to the public, but tickets, which have already been distributed, are required.

In addition to the Tabernacle Choir concerts, other major concerts during the Christmas season will be held in the Tabernacle on Temple Square. They include:

Mormon Youth Chorus and Symphony, Dec. 5.

Messiah, Salt Lake Oratorio Society and Utah Symphony Chamber Orchestra, Dec. 11-12.

First Night New Year's Eve celebration, Dec. 31.

The following major concerts will be held in the Assembly Hall as part of the Temple Square Concert Series:

Salt Lake Symphony, Dec. 11

Eleanor Kennard Chorale, Dec. 12

Salt Lake Symphonic Choir, Dec. 20

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