“As a kid, I used to listen to The Tabernacle Choir on my grandparents’ record player, so I am proud and thrilled that I am able to take part in this Christmas special,” said O’Hara. “Nothing could have prepared me for this experience, of hearing the voices of the Choir filling the space behind me, of everyone coming together to be part of something greater than ourselves, and to celebrate oneness, love and hope. It reminded me of why I started singing in the first place. This is an extraordinary program for our extraordinary times, and I hope that it can serve as a balm for our weary hearts this holiday season.”
Added Thomas, “The Tabernacle Choir’s music was a part of all my childhood Christmases, so it’s just thrilling to be a part of this concert and to plug all of my love of Christmas into the experience.” He continued, “It was all one could ask for to perform with Kelli, who is one of America’s preeminent singing actresses. Whatever faith tradition you come from, beautiful music is beautiful music, and expressions of caring and humanity and of aspiration are all the same for us. This program is filled with those sentiments and can bring all kinds of people together, especially in these difficult times.”
O’Hara and Thomas join Grammy® and Emmy® Award-winner The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square along with Orchestra at Temple Square and Bells at Temple Square in an Americana-themed program that exudes the warmth and peace the season can bring. The repertoire draws from a number of American musical traditions including folk, bluegrass, Broadway and African-American spirituals. It features well-known Christmas favorites as well as lesser-known holiday carols and ballads. As the program’s narrator, Thomas complements the music with nostalgic readings, including an adaptation of Pearl S. Buck’s “Christmas Day in the Morning,” an excerpt from Robert Frost’s beloved poem “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” and the Christmas story from Luke 2.
“We’re very honored that both Kelli and Richard joined us for this concert,” said Mack Wilberg, music director of The Tabernacle Choir. “This year’s program powerfully reflects both of their remarkable talents and is completely different from years past, with music that will be familiar to many and some that may be enjoyed by people for the first time. The end result is a beautiful event that will leave people feeling well-fed, and I’m pleased viewers will be able to enjoy it from the comforts of their homes this Christmas season.”
The 2020 broadcast of “Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir” is co-presented by GBH, the largest creator of PBS content for TV and the web, and BYUtv, the television home of The Tabernacle Choir’s weekly program “Music & the Spoken Word.” As has been done every year for the past twenty years, the special was filmed over three consecutive nights in December 2019 in front of a live combined audience of over 63,000 at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.
In addition to the airings on PBS and BYUtv, the special is available for purchase as a DVD or CD titled “Christmas Day in the Morning.” Also available is a companion book of the same title with the text of the narration given by Richard Thomas. For more information, visit: https://tabchoir.org/shop/christmas or http://www.shoppbs.org.
Funding for “Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir” featuring Kelli O’Hara and Richard Thomas on PBS is provided by Ronald C. and Kaye Gunnell; Timothy and Teresa Wright; Rex and Ruth Maughan; Richard and Shellie Silliman; Jim and Sandi Cook; Janet and Terrell Bird; Greg and Monica Drennan; Charles and Janet Stoddard; Andrea Golding; Björn and Cyndee Farmer.
For more information, please visit http://www.pbs.org/tabernaclechoir.
About Kelli O’Hara
Kelli O’Hara is one of the rare singers who has a home performing in Broadway musicals, concerts, and the Metropolitan Opera. Ms. O’Hara received her university degree in opera and, after winning the Oklahoma State Metropolitan Opera competition, she moved to New York City, where she made her debut on Broadway. She has received seven Tony Award® nominations, winning Best Actress in a Musical in 2015 for her performance as Anna in “The King and I,” the cast album receiving a Grammy® Award nomination. She received an Emmy® Award nomination for her performance in “The Accidental Wolf.” In 2015, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut in “The Merry Widow” and has since returned as Despina in “Cosí fan tutti.” Her concerts have gained international acclaim, spanning from New York’s Carnegie Hall all the way to Tokyo. She is a frequent performer on PBS’s live telecasts and the Kennedy Center Honors. Ms. O’Hara has recorded two solo albums, “Always” and “Wonder in the World.”
About Richard Thomas
Richard Thomas is best known for his starring role as the budding author John-Boy Walton in the television drama “The Waltons”, for which he won an Emmy® Award and received multiple Golden Globe® Award nominations. He is well known to contemporary television audiences for his role as FBI Special Agent Frank Gaad in the series “The Americans” and his performance as Sanford Bensinger in the series “Billions.” His work on stage spans from his Broadway debut at age eight in “Sunrise at Campobello,” to his Tony Award®–nominated performance in “The Little Foxes,” to his appearance as Hubert Humphrey in “The Great Society.”
About The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square
The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square is a world-renowned, 360-member choir credited with over 4,700 episodes of its weekly live performance of “Music & the Spoken Word.” The program is the longest continuing network broadcast in history, now in its 92nd year. The Choir has traveled around the world performing in acclaimed concert halls, for the inaugurations of seven U.S. presidents beginning with its first for President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965, at World’s Fairs and expositions, in acclaimed concert halls, on television and radio broadcasts and now internet streams, and numerous other prestigious events and occasions. The Choir has won four Emmy® Awards, 1 Grammy® Award and multiple Grammy nominations, was awarded the National Medal of the Arts in 2003 and inducted into the Classical Music Hall of Fame in 2015. It has released over 200 recordings which have earned two platinum and five gold albums and hit #1 on Billboard®‘s classical music charts 14 times.
The Orchestra at Temple Square is a 200-member, all-volunteer symphony orchestra organized in 1999 to perform and accompany the musical ensembles of The Tabernacle Choir organization. The Choir and Orchestra, with their incomparable medley of voices and instruments and their shared faith in God, are a significant, recognizable presence in the world of music, giving service through song. More info at https://www.thetabernaclechoir.org/.
BYUtv provides families more than 1,700 hours of entertaining and compelling programming they can enjoy together. The network’s content is trusted, contemporary and clean, yet clever and sophisticated enough to inspire children and parents alike. BYUtv’s diverse portfolio of original, co-produced and acquired content includes scripted and unscripted dramas and comedies, 700+ hours of live HD collegiate sports, game shows, and holiday special made-for-tv movies, docudramas and concerts. BYUtv is available in more than 50 million homes in every state of the country on DISH Network, DirecTV and 146 other major cable systems. A digital pioneer, BYUtv was the first U.S. television network to stream all of its content live and unencrypted over the internet. Today, BYUtv has more than two million YouTube subscribers and nearly two billion views and is available live and on-demand on multiple digital platforms free of charge, including Apple TV, YouTube, Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast, Xbox One, Windows Media, digital apps for iOS and Android, and BYUtv.org. Based in Provo, Utah, BYUtv is part of BYU Broadcasting, which is owned by Brigham Young University.
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