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Mormon Tabernacle Choir kicks off Christmas concert


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SALT LAKE CITY — The Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Christmas Concert began Friday.

The show was tempered by the events in Newtown Conn. Where 28 people including 20 children were killed by a gunman firing inside an elementary school.

The Choir offered a moment of silence in deference to those who had suffered so much Friday.

But the show was also a much-needed uplifting experience for those who made it out to hear the Christmas concert after such a shocking day.

It was packed downtown Thursday, just for the dress rehearsal. This year, Tom Brokaw is the narrator and Tony award winning tenor Alfie Boe is the soloist.

Of course the choir is always great, but British born Alfie Boe brought down the house at the rehearsal.

Boe has ties to Salt Lake City as his wife is from the city. In fact they were married at Red Butte Garden. He performs several Christmas carols, but Bring Him Home from Les Miserables, earned him a very long standing ovation.

Boe performs around the world, but singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has become a highlight of his career.

Mormon Tabernacle Choir kicks off Christmas concert

"The choir is phenomenal, they really are," Boe said. "I've sung with many choirs through the world, but I have to say these guys are something special, they really are, they've welcomed me with open arms."

"I looked out and I couldn't believe the amount of people in the room and the magnitude of the place," he said. "But then on stage it felt so different, I walked on stage, stood in front of the microphone and started to sing and the place felt so intimate."

A moving moment in the show came as Boe performed Les Miserables' "Bring Him Home."

"It's really not called "Bring Him Home," the song in the show. It's called "The Prayer." Boe said. "So if you have that in mind, that you're actually saying a prayer instead of singing a song, it comes across really well and that's the beauty of it really."

He says performing with the choir makes him feel like he is home.

"I know this is a once in a lifetime experience to be asked to sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Christmas concert. I'm relishing every moment."

The Candy Bomber steals the show

But the people needed something uplifting after such a shocking day.

There was one moment in the Tabernacle Choir's Christmas concert, that stole the show: an appearance from the Candy Bomber.

Mormon Tabernacle Choir kicks off Christmas concert

Gail Halvorsen, an Air Force pilot, was part of the Berlin food airlift in 1948. But a simple act of kindness to some German children, would change his life: He gave the two sticks of gum he got in his rations to the local children. From that day, Halvorsen decided to always give away his candy rations to the kids.

Other soldiers did the same, and they began dropping candy from tiny parachutes. The scene was re-enacted in the Conference Center.

As the audience jumped to their feet in applause, Halvorsen said he got to relive that moment again.

"It was and incredible, incredible sight," he said. "Took my breath away."

Paying tribute to one of the "greatest generation" was the highlight for concert narrator, Tom Brokaw.

"He is 92 years old," Brokaw said. "Not only is he still with us, but he came running down the ramp. He still fits in his old flight suit."

Halvorsen showed all those in attendance the spirit of Christmas can last all year long, with something as simple as two sticks of gum.

"He did his job, but at the same time he also took care of those children that he met and he did it (with) great imagination, great personal compassion and no expectation he was going to get credit for it. That pretty much sums up what the greatest generation was all about."

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Sam Penrod

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