a holiday tradition established with last year's top-rated PBS Christmas
special, "Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir," a holiday concert
featuring Tony Award winner Audra McDonald and veteran television and film star
Peter Graves, comes to KUED and national audiences this month. The KUED
production airs Sunday, December 11 at 8:30
p.m., Wednesday, December 21 at 8:00 p.m. and on
Christmas Eve at 8:00 p.m. The Choir and the Orchestra at Temple
Square are joined by McDonald and Graves for the hour-long special that includes
African-American spirituals and a medley of contemporary Christmas favorites.
KUED recorded the high-definition, surround-sound production during concerts performed December 16, 17, and 18, 2004, in the state-of-the art Conference Center. John Howe was executive producer.
The concert opens with a processional of candle-bearing dancers, lending an air of grandeur to the Choir's performance of the French "Carol to the King." Featured selections performed by the Choir, the Orchestra and Audra McDonald include "We Need a Little Christmas," "Pine Cones and Holly Berries," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "The Christmas Waltz," "Silver Bells" and "Deck the Halls." Also on the program is a Michael Davis-arranged medley of African-American spirituals, "Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow," "Sweet Little Jesus Boy," "Children, Go Where I Send Thee," "I Wonder as I Wander," and "Go Tell it on the Mountain."
A Ballet West principal ballerina dances the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite. Peter Graves gives a moving rendition of the Christmas story from Luke. Other selections performed by the Choir include "Ding, Dong, Merrily on High," "Fum, Fum, Fum!," "Whence Is That Goodly Fragrance Flowing," "Infant Holy, Infant Lowly," the Nigerian carol, "Betelehemu," and "Angels, from the Realms of Glory."
By the time she was 28, Audra McDonald had made Broadway history by winning Tony Awards for Carousel, Master Class, and Ragtime. McDonald won her fourth Tony for Best Supporting Actress for a revival of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun. In 2000, she earned a Best Actress Tony nomination for Marie Christine, a musical retelling of the Medea myth. Since then, she has distinguished herself as a concert performer, recording artist, and actress, adding an Emmy nomination to her expanding list of honors. Other career highlights have included performances at the Proms Festival in London, the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York City, and the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.
Peter Graves has had a successful acting career in film, spanning from the classic Stalag 17 to the comic Airplane, and an equally rewarding television career, encompassing more than a half-dozen series, several miniseries, and numerous movies for television. He starred in the original television series of Mission Impossible for six of the seven years it aired on CBS-TV (1966-1973). Since 1987, he has hosted A&E Television's series Biography.
The 360-voice Mormon Tabernacle Choir, conducted by Craig Jessop, has recorded with some of the world's great orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. It now performs regularly with the Orchestra at Temple Square, a 110-member symphony formed in 1999. Jessop and Mack Wilberg conduct the Choir and Orchestra. Many of the arrangements for the concert were done by Wilberg, one of America's premiere choral arrangers.
The program is funded in part by Ronald C. and Kaye Gunnell, the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, the law firm of Kirton & McConkie, the University of Utah and Okland Construction.
Tony Award winner Audra McDonald and veteran television and film star Peter Graves perform with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
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