Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Brian Stokes to be featured on US TV programs Dec. 1

Before sunrise, at 5:30 a.m. on Dec. 1, the members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will dress in full concert attire and file into their seats in the loft of the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. With Musical Director Mack Wilberg and Broadway star Brain Stokes Mitchell, they will beam mini-performances to television stations from Atlanta to Detroit, Charlotte to Minneapolis as part of a satellite media tour. The tour also will include network feeds to NBC, Fox and the Associated Press.

The elaborate media, film, lighting and recording capabilities in the LDS Conference Center make possible the connections across the country.

These feeds will put the musical director and Tony Award-winner Mitchell on camera for chats with the anchors of morning shows at a host of local stations talking about the new Choir CD and DVD, both entitled "Ring Christmas Bells." These recently released products were recorded live at the 2008 Christmas concert to four packed audiences totaling 85,000. During December 2009, the program will air on television stations across the country.

Mack Wilberg's vision of the concert 2008 was a cast of 700 filling the hall with bells. That meant bells in the hands of 108 ringers, dancers with choreography mimicking the ringing of bells, costumes with skirts that moved like bells and bells flying from the towering rafters and Mr. Stokes and the choir providing the music.

The choir's musical director and Mr. Stokes sat down in New York to plan the music for his part of the tradition of what has become one of the premier Christmas concerts in the nation. Sifting through favorites, the two settled on Wilberg arranging new music for "The Friendly Beasts" and "Sleigh Ride" and then the stirring "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring." Stokes said of his experience, "All Christmas songs have something in common, they are written from the heart. That's why a Christmas concert under the direction of Mack Wilberg carries a special spirit; he doesn't write from his pen or his mind, he writes from his heart." Also included on the DVD- and CD - are "Hallelujah" from Handel's Messiah and "Angels, from the Realms of Glory" and other favorites.

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