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Thread: MoTab Christmas Concert starts tomorrow

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    Senior Member Katy Lied's Avatar
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    Default MoTab Christmas Concert starts tomorrow

    Guesting Natalie Cole. Anyone going? I shall be reviewing it,for the 5th straight year now. I shall be mostly positive, as I got my butt chewed by the CB masses for my critical review two years ago.

    I was at the CC a few days ago when they were practicing the stage lighting, and although the set design is sparer than the last few years, the lighting is wilder:


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    Grooveshark dick tease MarkGrace's Avatar
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    I shall be mostly positive, as I got my butt chewed by the CB masses for my critical review two years ago.
    You've entered a whole new world now. Feel free to be honest.

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    We've tried to get tickets for a few years now, but have never lucked out. That is probably one of reasons I don't play the lottery

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    Senior Member Katy Lied's Avatar
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    The concert was mediocre so I havent had the heart to write a review of it. I peeked at the SL Trib and the reviewer there was kind but honest enough to admit basically the same thing. Yes, I know it was free, and I still had a lot of fun, so I will concentrate on random observations.

    Sherri Dew gave the invocation. She has man hands.

    Mack Wilberg has lost weight and now instead of looking like a jolly santa, he looked like a kindly wizened gnome.

    Hey look! Natalie Cole has man hands too! Her speaking voice is very high and breathy. If I were Paula Abdul, I'd complain that she's too pitchy. Nice phrasing, though. She's a consumate pro. She's no Sissel, though.

    Processional: Come O Come, a MWilberg composition that takes a musical strain and winds it into O Come All Ye Faithful toward the end of the song. It starts thin with the children's choir (They were fab) and Wilberg layers on the women's voices and climaxes with a strong male vocal line. Nice tune.

    Arrrgh! I am sick of Carol Iwasaki's choreography! She's done it 5 years in a row, give her a rest already. Call up Odyssey and ask their choreographer to think up something more fresh.

    Grown-Up Christmas List, by David Foster: Looks on its way to being a modern christmas classic. Cole does well with this song, it is personal and intimate and she pulls it off.

    O Holy Night: Normally this song is done on autopilot. Take a soloist with a magnificent voice, and have them kill it in huge vocal power, with the MoTab as the rising chorus surrounding the soloist voice. Here, MW had a problem because there was no way Natalie Cole could pull this off. But bringing in a soloist for this song is a tacit admission that Cole could not do it. MW solves the problem by performing it as a chorus, which I have never heard before. Like Come O Come, it starts small, then MW layers in section after section of adult voices. When they hit the money phrase (verse 3, "Christ is the Lord... O Praise his name forever...") I was disappointed becaue the Orchestra drowns out the choir. Not to worry, Wilberg reprises the money phrase, this time bringing the full throttle power of the choir, especially the male voices. Here was the resolution I was looking for. The song ends small, quietly, like a prayer.

    Organ Solo by Richard Elliott: This was the kick-ass climax of the concert. The absolute best number of the night. I knew from last year that Elliott puts on a good show, with the camera showing him playing the bass keyboard with his feet at the same time as he plays two other keyboards-one with each hand. The song is Good King Wenceslas and the first time he plays it pretty much straight through. The second stanza, he begins to sneak in some other phrasing that sounds suspiciously familiar until you realize he is playing The Dance of the Flutes, from the Nutcracker Suite, winding that melody in with Good King Wenceslas. The third stanza he throws in the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, all the while returning intermittently to Wenceslas, before adding the Russian Dance to end the whole thing. Before this performance, I did not realize that the Tabernacle Organ could mimic so many instruments. I thought it always sounded... well... organy. I discovered that it can pretty much mimic the entire orchestra. Elliott got a standing O for this one.

    The celebration of christmases around the world: ummmm, not that great. It included a spanish carol that featured a horrid pas de deux complete with clicking castanets, and for the Jamaican carol, a bunch of white classical dancers dressed like Carmen Miranda tried to dance with a Jamaican rhythmn. Cringing. The Russian song was very good, but I wish they had performed the dancing with men only; it looked odd to see the women doing the same steps.

    In The Bleak Midwinter: Nice little understated tune with the lights low and a dappled, mottled light cast over the faces of the choir. Nothing gives me chills like the MoTab singing a capella. MW wrings every last bit of emotion from the song in quiet intensity.

    The Christmas Concert is the closest thing to the apex of the LDS Social Season, and it is always fun to see everyone dressed to the nines and in a convivial mood.

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    Heartless Bastard Indy Coug's Avatar
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    My mom enlists all her kids, friends, casual acquaintances and strangers to enter the lottery so she can score tickets every year. Having attended way back when it was in the old tabernacle, I've never quite understood the over the top passion she has for attending this every year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Lied View Post
    The concert was mediocre so I havent had the heart to write a review of it. I peeked at the SL Trib and the reviewer there was kind but honest enough to admit basically the same thing. Yes, I know it was free, and I still had a lot of fun, so I will concentrate on random observations.

    Sherri Dew gave the invocation. She has man hands.

    Mack Wilberg has lost weight and now instead of looking like a jolly santa, he looked like a kindly wizened gnome.

    Hey look! Natalie Cole has man hands too! Her speaking voice is very high and breathy. If I were Paula Abdul, I'd complain that she's too pitchy. Nice phrasing, though. She's a consumate pro. She's no Sissel, though.

    Processional: Come O Come, a MWilberg composition that takes a musical strain and winds it into O Come All Ye Faithful toward the end of the song. It starts thin with the children's choir (They were fab) and Wilberg layers on the women's voices and climaxes with a strong male vocal line. Nice tune.

    Arrrgh! I am sick of Carol Iwasaki's choreography! She's done it 5 years in a row, give her a rest already. Call up Odyssey and ask their choreographer to think up something more fresh.

    Grown-Up Christmas List, by David Foster: Looks on its way to being a modern christmas classic. Cole does well with this song, it is personal and intimate and she pulls it off.

    O Holy Night: Normally this song is done on autopilot. Take a soloist with a magnificent voice, and have them kill it in huge vocal power, with the MoTab as the rising chorus surrounding the soloist voice. Here, MW had a problem because there was no way Natalie Cole could pull this off. But bringing in a soloist for this song is a tacit admission that Cole could not do it. MW solves the problem by performing it as a chorus, which I have never heard before. Like Come O Come, it starts small, then MW layers in section after section of adult voices. When they hit the money phrase (verse 3, "Christ is the Lord... O Praise his name forever...") I was disappointed becaue the Orchestra drowns out the choir. Not to worry, Wilberg reprises the money phrase, this time bringing the full throttle power of the choir, especially the male voices. Here was the resolution I was looking for. The song ends small, quietly, like a prayer.

    Organ Solo by Richard Elliott: This was the kick-ass climax of the concert. The absolute best number of the night. I knew from last year that Elliott puts on a good show, with the camera showing him playing the bass keyboard with his feet at the same time as he plays two other keyboards-one with each hand. The song is Good King Wenceslas and the first time he plays it pretty much straight through. The second stanza, he begins to sneak in some other phrasing that sounds suspiciously familiar until you realize he is playing The Dance of the Flutes, from the Nutcracker Suite, winding that melody in with Good King Wenceslas. The third stanza he throws in the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, all the while returning intermittently to Wenceslas, before adding the Russian Dance to end the whole thing. Before this performance, I did not realize that the Tabernacle Organ could mimic so many instruments. I thought it always sounded... well... organy. I discovered that it can pretty much mimic the entire orchestra. Elliott got a standing O for this one.

    The celebration of christmases around the world: ummmm, not that great. It included a spanish carol that featured a horrid pas de deux complete with clicking castanets, and for the Jamaican carol, a bunch of white classical dancers dressed like Carmen Miranda tried to dance with a Jamaican rhythmn. Cringing. The Russian song was very good, but I wish they had performed the dancing with men only; it looked odd to see the women doing the same steps.

    In The Bleak Midwinter: Nice little understated tune with the lights low and a dappled, mottled light cast over the faces of the choir. Nothing gives me chills like the MoTab singing a capella. MW wrings every last bit of emotion from the song in quiet intensity.

    The Christmas Concert is the closest thing to the apex of the LDS Social Season, and it is always fun to see everyone dressed to the nines and in a convivial mood.
    Grown up Christmas List and the organ solo were easily my favorites. I don't know that Natalie Cole's and the MoTab's styles really match very well. I think Natalie Cole's voice lends better to Jazz than the opera voices we typically hear from MoTab soloists. I think that's part of the reason Christmas List sounded so good. My says she still likes the Michael Buble version more. Or at least better than the other numbers. I also didn't enjoy the lady sitting behind me singing along with the choir. I realize they are free tickets, but I didn't come to hear the lady behind me singing. Overall it was a fun evening for me and my wife.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Indy Coug View Post
    My mom enlists all her kids, friends, casual acquaintances and strangers to enter the lottery so she can score tickets every year. Having attended way back when it was in the old tabernacle, I've never quite understood the over the top passion she has for attending this every year.
    I have never even heard of this event. I assumed people were talking about that First Presidency Christmas thing.
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    My wife and I attended. Natalie Cole was disappointing - and why did she need a teleprompter? First time I've seen karaoke at the Conference Center.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Lied View Post
    Guesting Natalie Cole. Anyone going? I shall be reviewing it,for the 5th straight year now. I shall be mostly positive, as I got my butt chewed by the CB masses for my critical review two years ago.
    How do you get tickets 5 yrs in a row?

    I may be small, but I'm slow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by happyone View Post
    How do you get tickets 5 yrs in a row?
    http://www.cougaruteforum.com/showpo...35&postcount=5

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    One man.....one pie Moliere's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Lied View Post
    O Holy Night: Normally this song is done on autopilot. Take a soloist with a magnificent voice, and have them kill it in huge vocal power, with the MoTab as the rising chorus surrounding the soloist voice. Here, MW had a problem because there was no way Natalie Cole could pull this off. But bringing in a soloist for this song is a tacit admission that Cole could not do it. MW solves the problem by performing it as a chorus, which I have never heard before. Like Come O Come, it starts small, then MW layers in section after section of adult voices. When they hit the money phrase (verse 3, "Christ is the Lord... O Praise his name forever...") I was disappointed becaue the Orchestra drowns out the choir. Not to worry, Wilberg reprises the money phrase, this time bringing the full throttle power of the choir, especially the male voices. Here was the resolution I was looking for. The song ends small, quietly, like a prayer.

    Organ Solo by Richard Elliott: This was the kick-ass climax of the concert. The absolute best number of the night. I knew from last year that Elliott puts on a good show, with the camera showing him playing the bass keyboard with his feet at the same time as he plays two other keyboards-one with each hand. The song is Good King Wenceslas and the first time he plays it pretty much straight through. The second stanza, he begins to sneak in some other phrasing that sounds suspiciously familiar until you realize he is playing The Dance of the Flutes, from the Nutcracker Suite, winding that melody in with Good King Wenceslas. The third stanza he throws in the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, all the while returning intermittently to Wenceslas, before adding the Russian Dance to end the whole thing. Before this performance, I did not realize that the Tabernacle Organ could mimic so many instruments. I thought it always sounded... well... organy. I discovered that it can pretty much mimic the entire orchestra. Elliott got a standing O for this one.
    I'm jealous you got to see these. I've never been to the concert but would have loved to attend. Alas, I no longer live in Utah.

    That organ solo sounds amazing. Will this concert be broadcast anywhere or at least is the organ solo available on youtube?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie Jones View Post
    I'm jealous you got to see these. I've never been to the concert but would have loved to attend. Alas, I no longer live in Utah.

    That organ solo sounds amazing. Will this concert be broadcast anywhere or at least is the organ solo available on youtube?
    Friday night's performance was recorded for later rebroadcast on PBS.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie Jones View Post
    I'm jealous you got to see these. I've never been to the concert but would have loved to attend. Alas, I no longer live in Utah.

    That organ solo sounds amazing. Will this concert be broadcast anywhere or at least is the organ solo available on youtube?
    They normally broadcast this yrs concert next yr on PBS. They also put out a DVD of it the next yr.

    I may be small, but I'm slow.

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    Senior Member Katy Lied's Avatar
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    This year's 2010 concert will feature David Archuleta. I have no doubt he has the power and talent to hit the dramatic notes, but I wonder if he will be able to hold the audience in the palm of his hand during the talky sections where he relates personal anecdotes. We will see. He is sort of the anti-Natalie Cole of last year. Her voice was shot, but she could still tell stories to you in the pseudo intimate way that's just between her and 22,000 of her closest friends.

    Signup for random drawing for tickets starts this Saturday at midnight.

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    Senior Member Katy Lied's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by happyone View Post
    How do you get tickets 5 yrs in a row?
    Yeah, thanks. My streak has come to an end. I could not get tickets this year, and I didn't want to buy them. So I am sitting here listening to the abbreviated performance on Music and the Spoken Word, broadcast now on BYUtv.

    The narrator/reader part is by Michael York this year. I think he's marvelous, and is doing more than simply reading. Harkening back to his days as a dramatic actor in British Theatre, he is gesticulating madly and pronouncing "Bernard" in that indomitable british way, "BERN-erd."

    In the first Archuleta piece, he is quite restrained. It is an arrangement of Joy to the World, written by Sam Cardon, who I suspect has ties to some CUFfers. His last piece is Angels from the Realms of Glory, arranged by Mack, which I am expecting to be a tour de force. And it is, except for his voice cracking and flattening at the very end of the last note.

    Can't wait to see this when it is released next year.

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    Senior Member Katy Lied's Avatar
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    This year's guest artists:

    Jane Seymour and Nathan Gunn.

    ????
    I see I wont have a problem getting tix this year.

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    Senior Member Katy Lied's Avatar
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    My 2012 Review of the MoTab Christmas Concert

    Guesting Alfie Boe (Tenor) and Tom Brokaw (Narrator)

    The program notes tell me that Alfie Boe is one of Britain's leading tenors. Grew up in Lancashire and somehow married a Salt Lake girl. He's been Jean Valjean in the 25th year redux of Les Miz and lead of La Boheme on Bradway. He has an uncanny resemblance to Steve Carrell, and possesses that amiable brit talent for disarming self effacement.

    I sat on the Terrace level, the middle one. Avoid this at all costs because the sound is tinny there, more trebly. Almost as if the bass notes dont make it back there in the mezzanine rafters.

    Readers of my annual review will note that I pick on Carol Iwasaki's choreography overly much, and this year is no different. Jazz hands, Carol? What's with the fluttering hand gestures that made its way into every number? Aside from that, Carol takes it up a notch this year, with some daring jazzy moves, and when I say daring, I mean innovation LDS style, with a few dance motifs referencing choreography post Broadway Oklahoma, but nothing to bring on collective heart palpitations in The Brethren.

    Mack Wilberg brings us 4 new arrangements this year, and closes the show with his customary arrangement of Angels from the Realms of Glory. So we get to hear 5 Mack Macks. He's lightened up his tone, with more airy arrangements of Jingle Bells, and Sing Noel (the processional number), and What Shall We Give, a Catalonian Carol with a catchy refrain Tom, Ta Tom Tom Tom. You know I dislike overly sentimental works, and Mack definately pulls back on the emo throttle, which ironically, makes me weepier. I find that I cry better when it's not on cue.

    Where Wilberg has improved phenomenally during the past year is in his orchestration. He plays familiar refrains with unexpected instruments, increasing interest in christmas carols we've heard a million times before.

    I think I've decided that it's better to have a no-name performer in his prime than a brand name who struggles with voice issue. Alfie, in an exquisitely cut suit jacket at odds with wrinkly pants, was in fine form with a classic rendition of I Wonder as I Wander, exchanging riffs with a beautiful viola (I think it was viola) line. Very pretty. But the piece de resistance was Bring Him Home, which Jean Valjean sings about Marius on the barricades, asking God to bring Marius back safe to him and Cosette. Boe is able to sing exquisitely high notes in his clear tenor with absolute control over his volume at the same time. Beautiful notes just above a whisper. Wow what a showstopper. Here Alfie sings for Youtube:

    [YOUTUBE]UaI9BPKhExk[/YOUTUBE]

    What a treat, to hear this live.

    You always expect something kickass from Richard Elliott in his virtuoso solo on the organ, and this year it was Sleigh Ride, With a few instruments occasionally providing some background ambience, this one was all Elliott, playing on 4 keyboards, multiple organ stops, and on the foot keyboard. He even provided the whip cracks of the sleigh ride, and the horse neighing at the end of the song. He made several mistakes during the song, which surprised me, but he took on a very difficult performance and still wowed the crowd enough for a standing o.

    Tom Brokaw's Christmas From Heaven told the story about Chocolate Bomber Gail Halvorsen over West Germany during WWII. The pilot who would release handkerchief parachutes filled with chocolate for the children. They let down a huge sheet and showed vintage footage of planes dropping little white parachutes. Then they turned on spotlights, the rain and fog machines, and played sounds of old airplanes taking off, and then released hundreds of handkerchiefs over the heads of the audience. Full on dramatic effects, and quite daring for the Motab. After all this, they bring on Gail Halvorsen in the flesh, a spry 92 year old who spoke of Jesus Christ our Savior to Tom and the audience. Another show stopper. The MoTab is modernizing is presentation.

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    These are really fun to read, KL. You do them brilliantly.

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    Thanks for that, KL. Is that going to be broadcast this year, or will it be delayed a year or more, as usual?

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    Good write up KL.

    My wife and I went Thursday night. Due to some connections with KUED, the sponsoring PBS station, we went to dinner prior to the concert at the CC. There were some interesting remarks by Elder Holland, who served for 8 years as the chairperson of the PBS board. Also Bruce Christensen, the former PBS president/CEO and former dean of BYU's college of Fine Arts and Communication spoke. At the end of the dinner Tom Brokaw and Alfie Boe spoke to us for a bit.

    I really enjoyed this year's concert. I don't get the point of the dancers so I just ignore them. I was really looking forward to Bring Him Home as it is one of my favorites from the musical. I told my wife I would probably weep a bit. Sure enough, as soon as the harp opened I could feel my throat tightening. Then the woman in the seat right next to me spent the next minute trying to stop her cell phone from ringing Seriously!?!

    I think the only time Alfie Boe had unwrinkled pants was when during his first performance; after sitting between pieces they wrinkled.

    I'm glad I wasn't the only one to notice the mistakes on sleigh ride. I thought maybe it was just me. Still, it was a very impressive piece and the audience enjoyed his performance, especially the karate chop to the slapstick.

    Brokaw was great. I really like his voice. You would never guess Halvorsen is 92 the way he bounded down the stairs to shake Brokaw's hand.

    This show was taped over 4 performances and will be edited over the next year to be broadcast in 2013. Last year's performance with Nathan Gunn and Jane Seymour will be shown this year with an anticipated 97% of PBS stations airing the concert (there are a few stations in WI and one in Santa Barbara, CA who won't have it).
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    One man.....one pie Moliere's Avatar
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    It's a shame the church, with all its broadcasting ability, doesn't show this on byutv.
    "Discipleship is not a spectator sport. We cannot expect to experience the blessing of faith by standing inactive on the sidelines any more than we can experience the benefits of health by sitting on a sofa watching sporting events on television and giving advice to the athletes. And yet for some, “spectator discipleship” is a preferred if not primary way of worshipping." -Pres. Uchtdorf

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    Great writeup KL. We went on Friday night and it was great. Alfie Boe and Bring Him Home was fantastic.

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    My sister said it was phenomenal. Alfie and the candy bomber were amazing she said.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moliere View Post
    It's a shame the church, with all its broadcasting ability, doesn't show this on byutv.
    I don't think the church has the broadcast rights for it. Those are owned by PBS/KUED. Elder Holland commented that the church is grateful that the choir is shown on nearly every PBS station in the country.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moliere View Post
    It's a shame the church, with all its broadcasting ability, doesn't show this on byutv.
    Apparently they tried to broadcast Saturday's performance live but there were some technical difficulties. It will play Sunday morning.

    From an email I received:

    BYUtv is pleased to announce that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's 2012 Music and the Spoken Word Christmas special, featuring Alfie Boe and Tom Brokaw, will air this Sunday, December 23 at 9:30 a.m. MT.

    This remarkable program is sure to add to the spirit of Christmas for you and your family ... and we hope you will join us for this special, one-time airing.

    For those who tuned in on December 16 to watch this Music and the Spoken Word special, we sincerely apologize for technical difficulties that prevented BYUtv from airing the program live.

    With Best Holiday Wishes,

    BYU Broadcasting
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    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Lied View Post
    My 2012 Review of the MoTab Christmas Concert

    Guesting Alfie Boe (Tenor) and Tom Brokaw (Narrator)


    I think I've decided that it's better to have a no-name performer in his prime than a brand name who struggles with voice issue.
    Alfie Boe is a no-name?!
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    One man.....one pie Moliere's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surfah View Post
    Apparently they tried to broadcast Saturday's performance live but there were some technical difficulties. It will play Sunday morning.

    From an email I received:
    Excellent! Thanks for the info.
    "Discipleship is not a spectator sport. We cannot expect to experience the blessing of faith by standing inactive on the sidelines any more than we can experience the benefits of health by sitting on a sofa watching sporting events on television and giving advice to the athletes. And yet for some, “spectator discipleship” is a preferred if not primary way of worshipping." -Pres. Uchtdorf

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    Senior Member Katy Lied's Avatar
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    The guest performers for this year:

    American Soprano Debra Voight. She's pretty born-again, raised in a deeply religious SoBapt home, and receiving a vocal scholarship from the Chrystal Cathedral (presumably prior to its bankruptcy and subsequent sale to the Catholic Church).

    SU may be interested to learn that she has played Brunnhilde in Die Walkure, the second in Wagner's Ring Cycle.

    From Wikipedia:

    In 2004, Voigt was removed from the role of Ariadne at Royal Opera House when she could not fit into one of the costumes, a "little black dress." The casting director, Peter Mario Katona, wanted her to wear it, instead of the typical period costume used in such operas. She was replaced by Anne Schwanewilms, a German singer of slimmer appearance. She was "very angry" about the incident, but kept silent about it for several months.[19][20] When the decision became public, Covent Garden received significant criticism in the media. It was pointed out that many notable sopranos, such as Luisa Tetrazzini, Jessye Norman and Jane Eaglen, had been "the large-boned, the zaftig, even the enormous", and Voigt had merely "followed in their heavy footsteps."
    She underwent a gastric bypass in 2004 and has lost 100 pounds.

    Before
    voight.jpg

    After:

    Deborah_Voigt.jpg





    I'm pretty excited about the guest narrator: Actor John Rhys-Davies


  29. #29
    Senior Member Clark Addison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Lied View Post
    The guest performers for this year:

    American Soprano Debra Voight. She's pretty born-again, raised in a deeply religious SoBapt home, and receiving a vocal scholarship from the Chrystal Cathedral (presumably prior to its bankruptcy and subsequent sale to the Catholic Church).

    SU may be interested to learn that she has played Brunnhilde in Die Walkure, the second in Wagner's Ring Cycle.

    From Wikipedia:

    She underwent a gastric bypass in 2004 and has lost 100 pounds.

    Before
    voight.jpg

    After:

    Deborah_Voigt.jpg

    I used to work across the street from the Crystal Cathedral.

    Also, I am looking forward to hearing Nancy Grace sing.

  30. #30
    Senior Member Katy Lied's Avatar
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    My Review of the 2015 MoTab Christmas Concert:

    First, the traffic has become untenable. Between the Jazz Game and the Temple Square Lights-visitors, and the fact that concert goers cannot park in the Conference Center (Does anyone know why?), traffic is a snarled mess and it takes a while to get there. The concert starts at 8pm and we were supposed to be in our seats at 7:30pm. We left home at 6:30pm but were soon snarled in traffic. We parked at my husband's work place in Gallivan Center and took the train the last two stops. Do yourself a favor and just take the train all the way in. Much calmer and more fun. Or park in the outskirts somewhere and take the train in the free zone. We chatted with some other concert goers who said it took them 1 hour to go 1 block. Ick.

    Anyway, we got there at 7:45pm and thought our seats had been given away, but from the lines of people trying to get in, everyone else was late as well. I think as long as you are seated by the 8pm start (and the MoTab always, ALWAYS starts on time. To the second.) your seat is safe. If you get there after 8pm, they will still let you in at discreet moments in the program.

    The opening song, Come All Ye Children, Singing, was a nice display of the talents of the Orchestra at Temple Square. Except that the last note of the song is a piccolo trill that came in late and was shrill and stuck out like a sore thumb in the silence following the piece but before the applause. Nevermind, the piccolo player redeemed herself in a later piece.

    I was looking forward to the processional, as this is my first concert not featuring the choreography of Carol Iwasaki, and to my relief nary a jazz hand in sight. Whew. But some of the movements were suspiciously iwasakiesque, so I whipped out my phone and googled choreographer Christine Moore. Sure enough, another University of Utah product. Sigh. But she introduced some intresting and novel movements, like "freezing" her dancers in poses that didn't seem like voguing at all. I also liked the costumes which I thought really contributed to the music. (Yeah Susan Memmott Allred).

    This year featured a non-famous lineup of minor vocal talents, most with connections to Utah. Headliner Laura Osnes performed with the Choir this past summer, and like most guests, found she liked it a lot and wanted to return. She is very beautiful. Her husband is a photographer:


    She uses her non-operatic (aka her "pop" voice) as well as her opera voice, sometimes in the same song, so is very satisfying to listen to. She was in full operatic voice for her first number Oh Come, All Ye Faithful, and then switched to popish for Do You Hear What I Hear. When she does that, her voice approaches Karen Carpenter's as far as clarity- very pretty. (Sam Cardon arranges Oh Come, All Ye Faithful as well as another number and if you don't know of him, google his ass-- he's FYM graduate of BYU and you WOWers have some of his music memorized.)

    It felt that Mack designed this concert to show off the best of the Bells and the Orchestra at Temple Square. While in earlier concerts it felt as if the Orchestra was simply the house band, in this concert it felt like there were more numbers featuring their talent. One of my favorite numbers of the night was Troika, from Sergei Prokofiev. Think of it as a Russian version of Sleigh Bells. You still hear the horses slip and slide over the cobblestones, you still hear the lash of the whip, and the bells tinkling as the troika moves, but with the introduction of several Russian motifs in a minor key. It was lovely.

    Laura Osnes returned for another set, The Secret of Christmas, which showcased her cabaret stylings, and a Christmas medly.

    The next section featured the Orchestra in three numbers composed/arranged by Mack Wilberg. I have to say this was my favorite part, especially Fum, Fum, Fum that featured a lovely piccolo line. You hardly ever hear the piccolo with a melody-- mostly just trills and emphasis at the end of the melodic line from another instrument. This one was fabulous.

    Following this trio of songs, Richard Elliott performed another tour de force, like he does every year. And was kick-ass, like every year. And received a standing O, like every year. He wove together the song Joy To the World with snippets from Handel's Messiah, and of course they turned on the foot cam to show his footwork on the pedals.

    I found the Narrative portion of the program to be a tad disappointing. I thought that the story of Handel's Messiah would focus on his genius, and how he created his masterpiece. Instead, it was about the first few performances of his Oratorio, which was also nice and focused on the Christmas Spirit, but I really wanted to know his creation process. Martin Jarvis has an undeniable pedigree in vocal performance, but I felt he was unprepared, and his Irish accent was embarrassing.

    I have to say something about the light design this year because it was phenomenal. They don't credit the light design in the program (grrr!) but they were fabulous, and lighting was used in many novel ways, such as shining behind dancers to create huge blowup moving figures on the Cenference Center walls in haunting ways. This year, the stage decorations and set design was very muted and restrained, replaced by fog machines and the great lighting. The lighting equipment must cost an arm and a leg, and really, when is it used except for at this program? Maybe they rented and brought in the rigging.

    Also, I looked for our own MoTab singer in the crowd. I think I saw him, but he has shaved off the mustache. Does anyone know?

    After the concert we rushed over to Blue Lemon, that queen of all Chick Eateries. My favorite thing is to order hot chocolate and sip it inside the front window and watch the lights, the snow falling, and the passers-by. They had already closed that part of the restaurant so I settled for a Roasted Beet Salad, new on the menu. Divine.
    Last edited by Katy Lied; 12-21-2015 at 10:22 AM.

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