The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square unveiled its Christmas gift to the community and members and friends throughout the world in its performance "Sing We Now of Christmas."
With some 20,000 people attending the choir's dress rehearsal on Friday evening, Dec. 15, and another 20,000 or more present for the concert Saturday evening, Dec. 16, the choir had its largest live audiences at any Christmas concert.
The Conference Center stage and choir loft were decorated with trees, lights and flowers, making the event as much a visual feast as a musical delight. Conductors Craig Jessop, Mack Wilberg and Barlow Bradford directed the choir and orchestra in a wide range of Christmas music, including works by Handel, Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn. Several selections were arranged by Brother Wilberg. Tabernacle organists John Longhurst, Clay Christiansen and Richard Elliott accompanied.
Grammy Award winning performer Gladys Knight sang a medley of Christmas songs: "Mary's Boy Child, Jesus Christ," "Sleep Little Jesus Boy" and "Go Tell It on the Mountain." Pianist John Fluker accompanied her, along with Pan Jam, steel drum performers who are members of the Ron and Ralene Brough family of Orem, Utah: Ryan, 21; Regan, 18; Roger, 14; and Robyn, 13.
Roma Downey, star of television's "Touched by an Angel," narrated "Christmas Is Just the Beginning," the script written by Margaret Smoot and Heidi Swinton. For this segment, Sister Smoot wrote lyrics for five songs; Merrill Jenson composed the music. Sister Knight, who joined the Church in 1997, sang one of the new songs, "The Way of the Shepherd."
Choir members John Prather and Stacie Raddatz performed as soloists during the concert.