Tabernacle Choir announces guest artists for 2023 Christmas concert

Broadway’s Michael Maliakel and actor Lesley Nicol will be the guest artists at the Tabernacle Choir’s 2023 Christmas concert

Broadway’s Michael Maliakel and British actor Lesley Nicol will join The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square as the featured guest artists at this year’s Christmas concerts, choir officials announced Friday, Oct. 6, on, and live on Fox 13. 

“We are delighted to have the talents of Michael Maliakel and Lesley Nicol at this year’s Christmas concerts,” said music director Mack Wilberg. “Together they will bring the holiday spirit into the hearts of our audiences through music and word celebrating the joy that is found in family and the celebration of the Savior’s birth.”

The Christmas concerts, under the direction of Wilberg and Ryan Murphy, associate music director, will be on Dec. 14, 15 and 16 at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City and will have live audiences. Tickets will be distributed through a random ticket selection. (See below for details.)  

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About the Christmas concert guest artists 

Maliakel (pronounced “Molly-uh-kell”) is currently starring as the title role in Disney’s “Aladdin” on Broadway. The Indian-American actor and singer, who is a baritone, was recently featured in two PBS concert specials: “Broadway’s Brightest Lights,” alongside singer and actor Megan Hilty, who sang in the 2021 Christmas concert; and “An Evening with Lerner and Loewe.”

Michael Maliakel pauses on the red carpet for a photo in New York.
Michael Maliakel attends the 52nd annual Songwriters Hall of Fame induction and awards ceremony at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on Thursday, June 15, 2023, in New York. He will be one of the guest artists for the 2023 Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert. | Evan Agostini, Invision/Associated Press

Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, he toured North America in the 25th anniversary production of “The Phantom of the Opera.” He recently made his Kennedy Center debut in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard.” 

Nicol’s career has included Broadway, the West End, movies and television. She played Mrs. Patmore in ITV’s “Downton Abbey” for six years and in both feature films. Her television career in the U.K. has encompassed both drama and comedy, including “Blackadder,” “Shameless,” “Inspector George Gently,” “Hancock and Joan,” and “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” 

Her film work includes the multiaward-winning “East Is East” and the sequel, “West Is West.” She has just completed filming “Mr. Bates vs. The Post Office,” a new ITV series to be released in 2024.

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“Downton Abbey” actress Lesley Nicol poses for a portrait at The Peninsula hotel in Beverly Hills, California.
In this Dec. 17, 2013, file photo, “Downton Abbey” actress Lesley Nicol poses for a portrait at The Peninsula hotel in Beverly Hills, California. She will be the narrator for the Tabernacle Choir’s 2023 Christmas concert. | Dan Steinberg, Invision/Associated Press

Other Disney singers who have been guest artists include Angela Lansbury, who was the voice of Mrs. Potts in Disney’s animated “Beauty and the Beast” was the guest artist in 2001. “Disney Legend” Lea Salonga, who is the singing voice of Princess Jasmine from “Aladdin” and Fa Mulan for “Mulan” and “Mulan II,” was a guest artist last year. 

And another “Downton Abbey” actor has been the narrator for the Christmas concert — Hugh Bonneville, who portrayed Robert, Earl of Grantham, in the series, was a guest artist in 2017. 

Maliakel and Nicol joined Fox 13 later in Friday’s show from New York City and Portugal, respectively, to talk about being invited to perform for the choir’s 2023 Christmas concert. 

Maliakel said that his family have been fans of the choir’s Christmas concert. “I grew up watching them on Christmas mornings with my family,” he said. 

He’s excited to “sing some music that I absolutely love” and be part of the Christmas concerts. 

“It’s a long distinguished line of my personal heroes that have stood in front of the choir and sung, and so now to be a part of that, it’s mind-blowing. I can’t wait,” he said. 

Nicol said she’s “still getting over the shock” of being invited to perform with the choir. “It came from nowhere,” she said in an interview with Fox 13 from Portugal on Friday morning. ”But it’s very, very, very exciting. … I’m deeply honored.”

When she was telling her family about this opportunity, she found out her brother in South Carolina had been trying for several years to get tickets to the Tabernacle Choir’s Christmas concert. “I have become the sister with the most brownie points,” she said. 

Also, she said that Bonneville told her that the energy of the choir’s voices and the sound from the orchestra is “like you’ve got a jet engine behind you.”

Nichol added: “This won’t be like anything we’ve done before.”

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Tickets to the Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert

The concert — with the 360-voice choir, 150 instrumentalists in the Orchestra at Temple Square and 32 bell ringers from Bells at Temple Square, all of whom are volunteers — will be in the Conference Center at Temple Square.

Tickets are free but required for the concerts, which are Thursday, Dec. 14, to Saturday, Dec. 16. Tickets are not required for the “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast on Sunday, Dec. 17. 

Tickets for the Christmas concert are available to those who attend the orchestra’s sold-out fall concert on Friday, Oct. 27, at 7:30 p.m. in the Salt Lake Tabernacle and through a random selection process. 

For the orchestra’s fall concert, those who attend in the Tabernacle will be able to exchange their ticket for a general admission ticket to the Christmas concert with The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra on Temple Square. The exchange for Christmas concert tickets will take place in the Tabernacle after the Orchestra at Temple Square’s fall concert, according to the announcement about the fall concert. Tickets for the orchestra’s fall concert are sold out. 

Tickets for the Christmas concert are also being distributed through a random selection process and has been increased this year to four per household. The registration opens on Tuesday, Oct. 24, at 10 a.m. and runs through Friday, Nov. 10, at 11:59 p.m. MT. Tickets will be distributed the following week through Friday, Nov. 17, according to information from the choir. Full details can be found at

For both events, admission will be open to those ages 8 and older. As was the case for the recent general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the number of tickets distributed will be limited due to the construction in and around Temple Square, according to the announcement. 

The Tabernacle Choir’s Christmas concerts

The first Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert was in 2000 with soul singer Gladys Knight and “Touched By An Angel” actor Roma Downey. In 2001, Lansbury, who starred in “Murder, She Wrote,” joined the choir and orchestra.  

PBS began broadcasting a 60-minute recording of the previous year’s concert in 2004. Since 2017, BYUtv joined with the choir to produce the broadcast specials. 

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In 2020, the live concert was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Choir and orchestra officials worked with BYUtv to produce the “20 Years of Christmas With the Tabernacle Choir” special with Tony Award-winner Brian Stokes Mitchell that aired in 2021. In 2021, the concert had a limited audience. Broadway star Megan Hilty and actor Neal McDonough joined the choir, the Orchestra and the Bells at Temple Square and the Gabriel Trumpet Ensemble for a performance that was recorded and aired in 2022. 

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Lea Salonga sings during The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square 2022 Christmas concert.
Lea Salonga sings during The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square Christmas concert at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Last year, Salonga was the guest artist and Sir David Suchet, British stage, screen and television actor, was the narrator. The 2022 Christmas concert was opened to the public after two years of pandemic-related precautions. 

On Friday, May 6, the Tabernacle Choir released the single of “Hosanna (after Pachelbel’s Canon in D, P. 37)” that was a performed by the choir and orchestra during the 2022 concert.

The 2022 Christmas concert — “Season of Light” — will be broadcast on PBS and BYUtv for the 2023 Christmas season. Its PBS premiere is scheduled for Dec. 12, 2023, at 8 p.m. EST/7 p.m. CST. See for broadcast information.

For more information, visit

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Note: This was originally published on Friday, Oct. 6, at 9:58 a.m. It has been updated.

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