Music, stories, dancers and the colors of the season will fill the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, this weekend as capacity crowds in the tens of thousands attend the Church’s annual Christmas concert.
Each year 85,000 people attend the full-scale production in the Conference Center. This year’s event features the 360-voice Mormon Tabernacle Choir; the 100-piece Orchestra at Temple Square; highly acclaimed American baritone soloist Nathan Gunn; award-winning British actress, artist and author Jane Seymour; 32 bell ringers; and 110 dancers.
“For me, this is the gift of Christmas — to be part of all this,” said Seymour at a news conference Friday morning. “This is so heartwarming. I’m thrilled to be a part of this because it’s a universal message of giving and receiving love.”
“It’s a great way to kick off the Christmas season for me,” said Gunn. “I don’t get that many opportunities to sing Christmas programs, and I love that music.” He said it was an easy decision to accept the invitation to perform with the choir.
Dancers dressed in medieval costumes open the concert with “Sing Forth This Day,” the music composed by the choir’s musical director, Dr. Mack Wilberg.
Music includes everything from classical to traditional carols. Nathan Gunn sings Bach’s “Mighty Lord, and King All Glorious” from the Christmas Oratorio, “Sing Lullaby!” and a medley of “Winter Wonderland,” “White Christmas” and “Let It Snow!”
Actress Jane Seymour narrates the story of Good King Wenceslas and later in the program recites the story of the Christ child’s birth in Luke 2 from the Bible.
During the Thursday night performance, Public Broadcasting Service’s (PBS) president, Paula Kerger, attended the concert and praised the choir for its annual Christmas concert. She talked about how millions of viewers are able to experience the concert on public television. Choir president Mac Christensen said the concerts have become “a gift to the world, and that is what we want.”