19th annual broadcast returns with unique, soulful holiday program highlighting shared Irish heritage of Hilty and McDonough
This December, the nation’s largest stage for the arts, PBS, and inspirational family entertainment network BYUtv will air and stream “O Holy Night: Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir” featuring Tony Award-nominated Broadway star Megan Hilty (“Smash,” “Wicked”) and renowned film and television actor Neal McDonough (“Band of Brothers,” “Captain America: The First Avenger”). This marks the 19th annual “Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir” television special, which has been the No. 1 primetime holiday program on PBS for 17 years since it first aired in 2004.
The engaging 60-minute program, presented by GBH, will premiere on Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 8 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS, PBS.org, and the PBS Video app, and on Sunday, Dec. 18, at 8 p.m. ET on BYUtv, BYUtv.org and the BYUtv app.
Enjoy the Trailer here:
“My experience with The Tabernacle Choir, music director Mack Wilberg and everybody behind the scenes was almost indescribable,” said Hilty, who, per the program’s tradition, filmed the special in December 2021 to air this year. “Every single second of it was infused with joy and there is so much incredible attention put into every detail of the show. You can feel the love in every set decoration, in the lighting plot, in everything. I think this concert is the ultimate Christmas celebration.”
In this year’s “Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir” special, Hilty joins the Choir, Orchestra, trumpeters and bell ringers in performing well-known holiday tunes, classic Christmas carols and hymns. Traditional Irish musical numbers and elements are woven throughout the program in honor of Hilty’s and McDonough’s shared heritage. As the narrator of the evening, McDonough reflects on the role that family, heritage and traditions play at this time of year. Combining music and musings with unique Irish cultural nods, “Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir” is a deeply personal and uplifting program that inspires hope and welcomes the spirit of the holiday season.
“Creating this show of Christmas, and talking about the things that I love most, it’s truly a highlight of my career,” said McDonough. “It’s so emotional and so powerful what we say on stage. The whole true meaning of the show is all about family. I am just so honored to be part of a show, alongside a world-class group, that really talks about life. It’s about kindness and forgiveness and realizing that it’s not about us, it’s about the greater good. For me to be able to express how I feel onstage, it’s such an empowering feeling because I haven’t really had that ability to be able to speak about how I feel about life and how I like that to be with my art. It’s an inspiring, humbling, fantastic feeling.”
Following a 20-year tradition, this year’s “Christmas with the Tabernacle Choir” special was recorded over three nights in December 2021 in Salt Lake City’s Conference Center located at Temple Square, the No. 1 tourist attraction in the state. Over the past two decades, the annual television broadcast has featured stars such as Audra McDonald, Kristin Chenoweth, Angela Lansbury, Kelli O’Hara, Santino Fontana, Gladys Knight, Natalie Cole, David McCullough, Sutton Foster, David Archuleta, John Rhys-Davies, Renée Fleming, Deborah Voigt, Hugh Bonneville, Richard Thomas, Jane Seymour and many more.
“When we discovered that Megan Hilty and Neal McDonough shared Irish heritage, everything clicked into place and we decided to capitalize on that for this year’s Christmas concert special,” said Mack Wilberg, music director of The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square. “It was an absolute pleasure working alongside these two generous performers who bring such beautiful perspectives on life, faith and family through time-honored traditions. We are thrilled to share this performance with everyone and celebrate its shining message of hope and light.”
Megan Hilty is a Tony Award-nominated singer and actor, most recognizable for her portrayal of Ivy Lynn in NBC’s musical drama “Smash.” She has led a dynamic career both on stage and on screen, having graced the Broadway stage as Glinda in “Wicked,” Doralee Rhodes in “9 to 5: The Musical” and Brooke Ashton in “Noises Off.”
A multi-talented and award-winning actor, Neal McDonough has been seen in over 100 films, including “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Forever Strong” and “Greater.” He has starred in nearly 1,000 hours of major television dramas ranging from “Band of Brothers” to “Suits” to “9-1-1: Lone Star.”
“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 Choir’s weekly program “Music & the Spoken Word.” BYUtv produced the special, Funding for “Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir” on PBS is provided in part by Ronald C. & Kaye Gunnell and Charles and Janet Stoddard.
For more information, please visit pbs.org/tabernaclechoir.
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 4,800 episodes of its weekly live performance of “Music & the Spoken Word.” The program is the longest continuing network broadcast in history, now in its 94th 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 15 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/ or by following the Choir on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
BYUtv provides families more than 2,000 hours of uplifting 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, competition shows, concert specials and 700+ hours of live HD collegiate sports. BYUtv is available in approximately 40 million homes in every state of the country on DISH Network, DirecTV and more than 130 major cable systems. A digital pioneer, BYUtv was the first U.S. television network to stream all its content live and free of charge over the internet. Today, BYUtv has more than two million YouTube subscribers and two billion views and is available live and on-demand on multiple digital platforms at no cost, including Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Xbox, Windows, 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.
GBH is the leading multiplatform creator for public media in America. As the largest producer of content for PBS and partner to NPR and PRX, GBH delivers compelling experiences, stories and information to audiences wherever they are. GBH produces digital and broadcast programming that engages, illuminates and inspires, through drama and science, history, arts, culture and journalism. It is the creator of such signature programs as MASTERPIECE, ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, FRONTLINE, NOVA, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, Arthur and Molly of Denali and a catalog of streaming series, podcasts and on-demand video. GBH’s television channels include GBH 2, GBH 44, GBH Kids and national services WORLD and Create. With studios and a newsroom headquartered in Boston, GBH reaches across New England with GBH 89.7, Boston’s Local NPR; CRB Classical 99.5; and CAI, the Cape and Islands NPR station. Dedicated to making media accessible to and inclusive of our diverse culture, GBH is a pioneer in delivering media to those who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind and visually impaired. GBH creates curriculum-based digital content for educators nationwide with PBS LearningMedia and has been recognized with hundreds of the nation’s premier broadcast, digital and journalism awards. Find more information at gbh.org.
PBS, with more than 330 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches over 120 million people through television and 26 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’s broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. Decades of research confirms that PBS’s premier children’s media service, PBS KIDS, helps children build critical literacy, math and social-emotional skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality educational content on TV – including a 24/7 channel, online at pbskids.org, via an array of mobile apps and in communities across America.