I love the event formerly known as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Annual Christmas Concert. With the road shows of my Latter-day Saint childhood long gone and just recently, outdoor pageants also cut, I am crossing my fingers that this holiday tradition stays in place. Alongside humanitarian aid, I see the arts as one of the greatest ways we can offer something “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy” to the interfaith communities that surround us. Such events also expose church members to the good other people and cultures can offer us, as guests are usually not of our faith and the musical selections are not at all limited to typical Sacrament meeting fare.
Arts events at Temple Square are free of charge but they are not cheap. I love that these events bring A-list artists to spectators who would otherwise never afford to see them. (In contrast, I once went to the Christmas event at Disneyworld. It was expensive and the “celebrity host” was an adult who had a supportive role in a not-great TV series during his teen years. His reading of Luke II was not good.)
Of course, on the downside, only people like me who are privileged to live in the Salt Lake area can regularly attend live events at Temple Square, but the availability of video does help bring these events to others. Today, I am sharing with you video of my favorite Temple Square events from the past year.
Christmas Concert with Sutton Foster and Hugh Bonneville
Both of these celebrity guests, who have certainly performed in many a prestigious locale, couldn’t help but crack a few jokes about the “intimate” Conference Center venue. (For those of you who have not had the opportunity to attend an event at the Conference Center, that might give you an idea of its seating capacity.) I loved how the show wove together both secular and religious Christmas music and highlighted women and men from history who were people of faith (but not the LDS faith).
But here are some highlights:
Pioneer Day Concert with Matthew Morrison, Laura Michelle Kelly, and Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein III
I watched every season of Glee so I jumped at the chance to hear Matthew Morrison live. Oscar Hammerstein’s grandson narrated this review of Rodgers & Hammerstein music and shared with us tidbits from Hammerstein’s life. For example, he hated children, and if anyone would know that, it was his own grandson.
Be One – A Celebration of the Revelation on the Priesthood
I was not able to attend this event in person, but I sent my daughter to see it with other family members and friends and watched it on video later with my sons. My boys, ages 6-10, had no interest in the talk that occupied the first 25 minutes of the video, but they perked up as soon as the music and dance numbers began. Like the other shows I have shared here, this one featured a wealth of celebrities, but unlike the others, these celebrities were church members: Gladys Knight, Alex Boyé, the Bonner family, and the Unity Gospel Choir International. My blue-eyed, fair-skinned 10-year-old son cried when the narrators told the life stories of African American, African, Jamaican and Brazilian Latter-day Saints who had been barred from the temple by racist policies of our past; I think this musical event touched him in a way that no history lesson could have.