Mormon Tabernacle Choir, guests unwrap musical magic

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  • Frances Provo
    Jan. 16, 2010 5:42 p.m.

    I live in NC and tried to get tickets for the Christmas program last year. Unfortunately, I wasn't "one of the lucky ones". For those who have had an opportunity to see this concert several years in a row, I think it would be "lovely" if you would give up your seat for those of us who would just like to make it "one time".

  • TabFan1
    Dec. 17, 2009 10:14 a.m.

    I have been to this concert for the last 3 years. All 4 performances. Great concerts, every one. We plan well ahead, have a late lunch or early dinner, and go stand in line. We get great seats, are never rushed and have a fantastic time. This year Ms. Cole did well for a second rehearsal with the choir on Thur. Friday's performance was spectacular. Loved EVERY minute of it. The Choir sounded AMAZING. WOW! (insert superlatives here) I don't feel bad for going, I love it, I will keep using any ticket I am able to get my hands on. Thank you to all who help make these nights magical!

  • Overbooking
    Dec. 16, 2009 4:53 p.m.

    I was surprised to learn that they give out more tickets than they have seats for. I was invited to attend by someone who was fortunate enough to get tickets. I was ready to book my flight and fly out to Utah just to hear the concert. I'm glad I didn't try and make it. If I had gone to the expense of flying out to Utah only to be kept from hearing the concert live because of some unexpected problem preventing me from being seated, I'd have been livid. I had no idea the seating was handled the way it apparently is. It's ridiculous. If people who have tickets do not show up, then the extra seats should go to those in the stand by line. Anything else is just not appropriate. Yes, get there early -- that's a given, but if everyone followed that advice, the problem would still be that of overbooking. That policy needs to change.

  • Jake
    Dec. 16, 2009 12:43 p.m.

    I think it would be incredibly difficult to organize a concert with 21,000 attendees and thousands of disappointed hopefuls down to the very last seat with only seconds to spare. Talk about a logistical nightmare! Give them a break. They use the tickets, selection process to give everyone a fair chance. If they did first-come first-serve for tickets, they'd be booked through the Millenium. Trust me, they're not sitting up in some high room of the Conference Center laughing at all the people who didn't get in. They try to give everyone a fair chance at the tickets, and then allow for standbys so that every seat can be filled, not to mention organizing the concert itself for free, and still people complain. If that place seated 100,000, some people would still complain. I've been turned away at the door too. I'm sure it was nothing personal.

  • walkalot
    Dec. 16, 2009 8:25 a.m.

    The church keeps adding more buildings without adding additional parking. If more parking were available it would help eliminate the need to arrive two hours early for concerts.

  • Bud
    Dec. 15, 2009 3:17 p.m.

    Everyone knows how bad downtown traffic is with all the events going on in the city. We left Lehi at 3pm. Drove up with no problem and ate dinner and then took trax to temple square. Waited in line for 10 minutes and then walked in. It is amazing how people complain about the traffic but leave home in utah co at 6 pm and think they can get in. With any event at the conference center, the doors open 1 1/2 hours before the program begins. You should be in line at least 1/2 before that. That means be at the conf cent 2 hours before the event begins. Relax and enjoy downtown and stop rushing and then complain. The concert was outstanding. Richard Elliott was the best of the night!!!

  • KHM
    Dec. 15, 2009 12:40 p.m.

    I can't imagine or understand complaining about traffic, lines, seating, and other slight inconviences. What an opportunity to attend such a wonderful, fulfilling, professional, and magical concert. I feel so blessed to have been lucky enough to obtain tickets and attend. I think Natalie Cole brought a different flavor and perspective to the concert. She does not have a powerful voice but the things she sang fit perfectly with her style.

  • martac
    Dec. 14, 2009 6:51 p.m.

    continued from previous post:

    The LDS church is very generous with this free concert but humans are organizing it. I would suggest that they either begin to charge a nominal fee OR stop giving out extra tickets and allow standby to fill in the extra seats. Reserved seats may be their best option. This system was used at the Olympic show they did in 2002 and it was very calm and so nice to not worry about losing your seat if you were caught in traffic. This may also make it easier for the elderly to get seats instead of having to compete with those who can run!

  • martac
    Dec. 14, 2009 6:48 p.m.

    I was a part of standby thursday night. We were told that generally 400+ standby get in. NOT THIS YEAR! Not one of over 1,000 standby held in the tabernacle got in. I called the ticket office the next day to discuss this situation. The volunteer was kind and helpful. She discussed my comments with her supervisor, only meant to help me understand and hopefully improve the system. From friends who are former ushers and security personal, there is a new director in charge who used to be in charge at the Marriott center. He apparently does things very differently than in the past. It was also confirmed by the Conference Ctr ticket mgr that they overbook every performance with the assumption that many people won't make it. If you were running late, believe that the standby people were NOT given your seats, those with tickets were. I have also witnessed in the past that some ushers allow families with only 4 tickets to bring in others (3-4). I hope this practice is discontinued as I waited 3 hours in standby, assured I'd get in (number 10) and not one of us did!

  • Sjel
    Dec. 14, 2009 12:28 p.m.

    And finally, I did have the oppotunity to watch "Music and the Spoken Word" yesterday. I loved getting to hear Mack Wilberg's "O Como, O Come" because that was what we missed as we were walking to the tabernacle. Just gorgeous! It was a beautiful half hour. I actually felt a bit disappointed that Natalie only sang one solo number (and sang it well). I would have loved one more. But, regardless I enjoyed it. I appreciate Natalie and David sharing their talents. And thank you Mack Wilberg, MTC Choir, Orchestra at Temple Square, the children's choir, bell ringers, missionaries, volunteers, and all involved in planning, production, and broadcasting. I appreciate your efforts despite having a tough experience.

  • Sjel
    Dec. 14, 2009 12:21 p.m.

    To aj arizona: I had a great experience watching/listening to the concert in the tabernacle. I think of it fondly even now, even recognizing that Natalie wasn't at her best that night. I cheered her on regardless. I was grateful. I am grateful. The sting of the rest of the situation has dissipated and I can look at the whole night with a better perspective. But, on that night (Thursday) when we experienced the panic and heartache, it just flat out hurt and it hurt for me and my sister to see others in a similar situation when this may have been their first opportunity or only opportunity (this was my thought about the many elderly couples I saw). But, I know that I did feel grateful, and I also felt hurt and heartache. It is possible to feel both. My sister and I really just wanted a place to share some feelings and thoughts that might be helpful for future planning so that all might have a better experience. As she said, we couldn't find another place to do that so we did it here. It was also helpful to hear from others.

  • Sjel
    Dec. 14, 2009 12:11 p.m.

    To LDS in CA, In Texas, and Boise, Idaho: Keep trying for those tickets. I surely hope you get a chance to go. And I hope that if/when you do that your experience is great and that you are able to rise above any problems that may happen outside of your control better than some of us (and I don't mean that sarcastically). I wish for all to have a great experience. That was what I wanted this year.

  • Sjel
    Dec. 14, 2009 12:04 p.m.

    To PBS Broadcast: This year's concert is being taped and will debut next December on PBS. That is the system. You can see last year's concert with Brian Stokes Mitchell played on PBS this year. It already debuted, but many stations repeat it throughout the season. You may also catch several other taped concerts from previous years. I highly recommend the concert with Sissel, but I loved watching the "Twelve Days of Christmas" with the Kings Singers (from the 2007 concert) for the first time last week.

    To Disappointed Dad: I'm sorry you didn't get a chance to watch with your family. That very scenario is one that came up again and again as I was thinking about my evening--I wonder how many families were split up and had this happen to them. I hope you were able to share some of the spirit through your family.

  • Dancer
    Dec. 14, 2009 11:33 a.m.

    As one of the dancers I want to apologize to anyone who struggled with the choreography--especially in regards to the tree. But if you listened to the lyrics (which aren't the traditional lyrics to O Christmas Tree), it would have made much more sense. Our focus was on presenting the tree, not praising it. I don't agree with all the choreography in the show, but knowing what I know from pre-production rehearsals, I think it was very well put together--especially considering that it was all done by volunteers.

    In my opinion, Saturday night was Natalie's best night, but having seen her Wednesday rehearsal, I'm convinced that she's amazing on and off stage. Whether or not you're happy with her performance, there's a reason she's received so many grammys, and I saw it firsthand.

    And for those of you complaining about tickets, I was given 2 tickets (far end of balcony) for being in the show. The rest of my family tried getting tickets through the same way as the rest of the general public. Out of the 8 siblings who tried getting tickets, none were selected.

  • bluto
    Dec. 14, 2009 10:20 a.m.

    South Salt Laker

    Do us all a favor, and stay home next time. Grinch.


  • CAY
    Dec. 14, 2009 8:37 a.m.

    Simply marvelous! I enjoyed and appreciated every minute of it. I hope the opportunity comes again. Thank you to everyone involved in bringing the spirit of Christmas to all of us there on Thursday night. Each performer was wonderful. We will always strive to be prepared and plan ahead.

  • aj arizona
    Dec. 14, 2009 8:27 a.m.

    I went to the Sunday service and it was the most moving I have ever experienced, and I've been to 5 of these.

    As Natalie and McCullough were honored by President Monson, it was noted earlier that the Church had presented her with her Genealogy.

    They had expressed how very gratful and moved they were to be here.

    As She and David were asked to face the Choir, they sang "God be with you till we met again."

    Natalie burst into tears. The spirit was thick.

    For all of you belly-achers...GROW UP!

    COMPLAINERS, you should be ashamed, Ingrates!

    Natalie is a pop star. She was great! And I bet most of you don't even know what a legend David is.

    I suggest all of you "Arm Chair Critics" will take some music appreciation classes. Broaden your horizons a bit.

    Natalie was sweet and darling. David is legendary. The Organ solo was terrific. Best I have ever seen.

    These are tickets in great demand, so next time, Complainers, do yourself and us a favor and stay home.

    Leave them for people with gratitude in their hearts, and go back to chewing lemons for breakfast!


  • travieso
    Dec. 14, 2009 1:34 a.m.

    I went thursday night. yeah we had bad traffic, yeah we didn't sit where we would like to have sit, but we got in. I was grateful for that. The concert was wonderful. I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was the first time I got in and I'd definitely go if I had the chance. Just plan ahead. Get there early. But It was a great experience.

  • Hillshum
    Dec. 13, 2009 11:17 p.m.

    Here is my opinion on the concert. I danced in it (only in the processional), so I may be biased. Natalie Cole's Grown-Up Christmas List I though was quite good. The rest didn't appeal to me personally, though she did sing well. Karina Gillette, who soloed with the children's choirs, did very well. The organ solo was spectacular. As my sister put it, Richard Elliot wasn't playing the organ, he was dancing to the Nutcracker while sitting at an organ and pushing the keys (did anyone see his feet, particularly Thursday?). The stories told my Mr. McCullough and Ms. Cole didn't touch me much, maybe because I wasn't able to hear them in their entirety. The dancing I'll refrain from commenting on because I was doing that.

    As for the whole ticketing/seating issue, the overbooking is done I am told because there is little commitment to use a free ticket, but in this case I think demand is high enough that those not used will be filled by standby. Tickets should also be assigned a specific seat.

  • Diane
    Dec. 13, 2009 10:13 p.m.

    We took trax from 7200 South at 6:10 and got to the conference center before 7:00 and got wonderful seats in our section. Everything was beautiful and wonderful. My only complaint is for trax. Several ticket machines were not working along the line and that caused long lines of people trying to get tickets. But riding was much better than driving even though the trains were crowded.

  • JJ
    Dec. 13, 2009 9:04 p.m.

    The MoTab is ALWAYS worth the effort, even from Idaho at 5 AM on bad roads. It all works when you are patient. And while I am not an organ fan, I could have listened to that beautiful rendition of "The Nutcracker" over and over and over. OK, when it comes out next year, I'll do just that. Thank you.

  • South Salt Laker
    Dec. 13, 2009 8:25 p.m.

    This was the oddest Christmas Service I have ever been to. I felt as if the program organizers felt that more of everything is BETTER. Well it's not. The dancing was a little weird and the dancing costumes???? What's up with that? I'm certain that to some in Eastern Europe, those costumes would be appropriate but not to those who don't come from such a culture. Why the bell ringers? Most churches ring bells outside to signal very important events to the community. There is nothing wrong with a Christmas Choir and Soloist and a simple orchestra. I wouldn't go to such a service again.

  • In Texas
    Dec. 13, 2009 5:55 p.m.

    As someone who lives down in Central Texas and has never been able to come to one of these concerts, I am really surprised by the ordinary way that some of you respond to going to this great event. I have tried for three years to get the money, time off, and resources to fly to Utah to see this event. If I am ever fortunate enough to come, I will not care who the guest performer is or how crowded it is. I will be thrill to have such a fantastic opportunity to hear, see, and enjoy the moment of being there. Merry Christmas and a shout out from Texas: The Tabernacle Choir, The Orchestra at Temple Square and Bell Ringers are AWESOME!

  • Anonymous
    Dec. 13, 2009 1:53 p.m.

    My daughter and friends went last night and had no problems whatsoever

  • vinniecat
    Dec. 13, 2009 1:23 p.m.

    We went last night and gave ourselves what we thought was plenty of time (one hour, from N. Sandy), to get there. We were fortunate and barely made it in. It was spectacular! I loved Natalie Cole! She was absolutely engaging and charming. I just wanted to hug her at the end of the concert. She seemed to be enjoying herself and gave us a wonderful performance. Thank you to the LDS church for such an absolutely wonderful concert!

  • Plan ahead
    Dec. 13, 2009 12:55 p.m.

    If the tickets say the doors open at 6 then, if you want to be guaranteed a seat, be there at 6. Period. Maybe you'll have to leave a little earlier from work. Maybe you'll have to deviate from your usual schedule. BUT if you want to attend these wonderful concerts and get a seat, then get there when the doors open.

  • Rachy2cminor
    Dec. 13, 2009 11:59 a.m.

    I think the system would work better if they didn't overbook, and any empty seats were given to standby. That guarantees that anybody with a ticket will definitely get a seat if they are there early enough, and that some of the people (like me) who waited in the standby line might have a chance to get in. I don't know how it was Saturday night, but nobody on standby got in Thursday or Friday. I did enjoy getting to see the concert on the screen in the Tabernacle. Definitely better than nothing. I agree that Ms. Cole struggled a bit on Friday when I saw it, but considering what she's been through, it's understandable. And, like everyone else who heard (and saw) it, I was amazed at Richard Elliot's organ solo. What a wonderful talent! Merry Christmas everyone!

  • Rosewood
    Dec. 13, 2009 10:55 a.m.

    Traffic was very slow, but we made it. Then it took us almost as long to park as it did to get downtown. We were nearly 10 minutes late, but on that night so were many other people, and we had no problem getting seats. In fact, they were still seating people nearly an hour into the concert. We were dismayed to find that in spite of all of good planning, it did no good.

    I wish instead of throwing out words like whiners, complainers, gripers, people would just say simply, I am truly sorry that you were not able to attend the performance that you were so excited about. That must have been very painful and difficult to have the evening that you were so looking forward to not happen. I hope that you may have the chance to go in the future and experience the joy and delight that I did this year.

  • Rosewood
    Dec. 13, 2009 10:21 a.m.

    Okay. I've changed my mind about commenting. Not sure anyone really wants to read what I have to say anyway, but here goes. :) Sometimes people's plans go awry through no fault of their own no matter how well they plan. Sometimes people are not able to leave whenever they want. They have jobs that require them to work until a certain time and they cannot get off early. Or something that happens at work or home or along the way keeps them longer than they expected. Yes, of course, when we do not plan well, we must suffer the consequences. I accept that. My point is that not everyone that was too late to get a seat was just foolish in their planning as Mr. Anderson has suggested. I'm pretty sure that some people who planned foolishly still obtained seats, just as I some who planned well (or thought they had) did not. Several years ago, we went to the bells concert at Christmas time. We left very early so as to be able to get there in plenty of time. Our parking spot was underground at Temple Square. (to be continued)

  • Anon 808
    Dec. 13, 2009 3:17 a.m.

    Great Set of Pics D News. One has become my screen Vackground for December. Great Photo Job. Merry Christmas.

  • Steven Anderson
    Dec. 13, 2009 1:04 a.m.

    I want to address some of the complainers here, but first...

    We went tonight (Sat. the 12th) and the show was awesome! Loved it, especially Natalie Cole!

    OK, to those who complained about not getting in or having a hard time getting in... well the problem with most of you seemed to be leaving too late to go there (like at 6:00 PM from Orem or Riverton) is just foolish. What did you expect? Plan ahead, leave way earlier in case there is traffic or bad weather... the doors OPEN at 6PM (or before), that means you need to BE AT the place before that, not just leaving home at that time (we got inside at 6:15 and got seats on row 2 on main floor).

    For those complaining about Natalie Cole... are you deaf? She did not screech. The woman was flawless and awesome tonight, also very personable and funny at times. My fav performance of the night was her doing "Grown-up Christmas List" (didn't know she was the original artist to record it). Natalie is amazing!

    Thank you to the LDS Church for this free gift.

  • A Man's Perspective
    Dec. 12, 2009 10:38 p.m.

    I went Saturday night. It was wonderful. Natalie Cole was fabulous.

  • about the tree
    Dec. 12, 2009 9:43 p.m.

    I was just a little startled at the way the dancers rushed toward the tree, some kneeling, some just raising their arms toward it. That's all.

  • Anonymous
    Dec. 12, 2009 3:58 p.m.

    I'm truly glad people had a fantastic experience. I talked with someone who went last night and she said Natalie sounded wonderful, that she must have just been nervous and/or travel weary on Thursday. I was delighted to hear that. The organ soloist was amazing. Natalie's reading of the Christmas story was just lovely. The stories shared by David McCullough were beautiful and touching. The choir was inspiring. I enjoyed the dancers and choreography. I have never viewed the Christmas tree as a pagan tradition, so I never even had the thought that I or anyone else was worshipping or reverencing it, but obviously some people did. It's interesting to read how other's viewed it. I'm sorry that I neglected to express my gratitude for all those involved in this huge endeavor, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. I'm sure I need to readjust my attitude, so I'll put my energy into that rather than commenting. Merry Christmas and a Happy and Blessed New Year to everyone, and may those who haven't been able to go to the concert get tickets next year.

  • Anonymous
    Dec. 12, 2009 3:29 p.m.

    For those complaining of needing to find a place to park - use UTA. Just drive your car as far as a trax station and hop on. This is what I will be doing tomorrow although I am usually a stickler for not taking the bus, shop, on Sundays. But the real pain is that when there is a church sponsored concert or conference on Sunday they need to get the buses and trax running at least 90 minutes earlier and 2 hours later. A lot of us on the West Side can't attend these events on Sunday because of the way the buses run.May buses don't go through my neighborhood until after 10AM. Also UTA clean up the bus stops - people in wheelchairs can't catch the bus to get to where they need to go.

  • pbs broadcast?
    Dec. 12, 2009 3:15 p.m.

    Can anyone tell me if the pbs broadcast has already happened, and if not, when? Thanks.

  • Anonymous
    Dec. 12, 2009 1:50 p.m.

    I am so glad I live 4 blocks away from the confrence center!!!

  • Keenan
    Dec. 12, 2009 1:48 p.m.

    I loved the concert on Thur night. We arrived early and had fine seats even though we were on the side balcony.

    Considering the Natalie Cole just had kidney transplant surgery earlier in the year, the fact that she performed is a miracle. Don't compare Cole to Stokes of last year. He not only sings, he's a Broadway performer, tv actor, and showman. Natalie is great in her right.

    Thank you, LDS church, for offering this free concert every year. :)

  • Jim
    Dec. 12, 2009 1:20 p.m.

    My wife and I were fortunate to get tickets. We went with some friends and left N. Utah County by 5:30. Leaving at that time, we were in the conference center more than one hour early. We all were thrilled by the performance. We couldn't understand the negative comments about Natalie Coles performance on Thursday night, because she did a great job. If you are going tonight, plan on being at the conference center when the doors open. Enjoy!!

  • John Pack Lambert
    Dec. 12, 2009 12:00 p.m.

    I see why it might be good to give people assigned seats, but I also see major drawbacks to it. I am beganning to think they should say "please plan on being seated 45 minutes before the performance starts, we can not guarantee you a seat when there is less than 30 minutes left until the program starts".
    The problem with assigned seating is that it would lead to people walking past eachother when they come in. It is a lot easier to fill up a huge auditorium by having people move into the middle of rows.

  • wer
    Dec. 12, 2009 11:57 a.m.

    What a great Christmas performance!

    It's amazing how many people to gripe and complain about something that is so good.

    Yes, traffic is intense and, yes, other venues shouldn't schedule events the same night as the MTC concert, but there are only so many dates in December for such events-what else can be done?

    For those who complain about the seating, etc. This program would cost at least $50 in any other city. It's held in the largest building in the world used for religious purposes with every seat having a clear view of the stage. Parking, generally, is free.

    So, instead of griping, try counting your blessings. There are plenty of people across the nation who would love to have this opportunity!

  • John Pack Lambert
    Dec. 12, 2009 11:48 a.m.

    I thought the original comment on traffic was just a word to the wise. It is basically, there will be lots of traffic so plan accordingly.
    There is the option of getting on trax in Sandy or somewhere further in and taking it in so you do not have to deal with the downtown crush. Temple Square is so beutiful this time of year it is not a bad plan at all, but there are lots of people on temple square, so make sure to give yourself plenty of time.

  • JEH
    Dec. 12, 2009 11:47 a.m.

    I had a terrible experience getting to the concert, but it was no one's fault but MINE. I should have left earlier. Period. Folks in Utah in general have a habit or running late (Mormon Standard Time). When things start on time they are frustrated. People, we know what the traffic can be like. Plan for it, or blame yourselves.

    Also, I thought Natalie Cole was Fabulous, and so gracious. You don't have to be perfect to give a wonderful gift, and she really gave a gift to all of us last night. I send my warmest thanks to all the performers.

  • Sjel
    Dec. 12, 2009 11:09 a.m.

    They really overbook the show and have standby? And noboby from standy got in? Not sure how you know that Overbooking, but if it's true, that explains a lot. We were so confused by the mob of ticket-holders (of which we were a part). All we could figure is that they really let standby in at 7:30 and we were having a hard time believing that had happened (since it didn't happen for us last year). Anyway, I hope many others get a chance to go in the future. I will gladly step back and watch from afar. I do sincerely hope that first timers or only timers are blessed with a good experience. I do think a few changes would help with that.

  • RH
    Dec. 12, 2009 11:02 a.m.

    I am glad there are many who have been able to get tickets each year. I have NEVER been able to get them, even after logging on first thing when they are available, only to find the tickets are GONE.
    Disappointed in the way this is handled by the church. It is a wonderful thing to attend, but it needs to be done better.

  • Too far to go
    Dec. 12, 2009 10:59 a.m.

    I heard Natalie sing unforgettable on channel 13 when Big Buddah asked her to. I thought she sounded so good. Some people would complain if they got a free ticket to a concert! For the guy who complained about Natalie - Do you complain about other decisions the Church makes. Be careful in your negativeness.

  • Rosewood
    Dec. 12, 2009 10:51 a.m.

    Oops, that anonymous was me.

  • Sjel
    Dec. 12, 2009 10:43 a.m.

    We did experience a bit of humor with the whole thing in just trying to get out of the Conference Center and get to the tabernacle. I laugh about it even now, but it really just goes to show how wild it was. We kept trying to get to the correct level to get out, but the missionaries kept trying to tell us that the center was full, so we had to keep telling them we were just trying to get out. Then, we got to the doors and the security people had closed them off with ropes. We couldn't stay, we couldnt' go. Luckily, a very kind security guard helped us out and wished us the best night possible (with obvious empathy for our situation). Thank you missionaries and security guard. We know it's hard for you. And I appreciate any who haven't judged my sister and I for our comments. We talked through it a lot and wondered (and continue to, as you can see)about our ingratitude. I'm glad for those who had a good experience. It helps to know that. I do hope to watch on Sunday.

  • Anonymous
    Dec. 12, 2009 10:34 a.m.

    I am sorry if I have merely been the instigator of starting a complaining thread. It was not my intention. I just felt so bad for the people who had tickets that waited in line, had their ticket scanned, went through security, up the escalators, and then were stunned to find there were no seats for them. I wondered how many of those people had never been before. We were not told that we wouldn't get a seat by anyone and that surprised me. We went all the way to the balcony to find that out for ourselves. I thought they would say something. Afterward, everyone was so apologetic, and I wanted to assure them that we were okay. I did not know more tickets were given out than available seats. I thought empty seats always went to standby. I couldn't figure out how so many standby people were seated when they wait until the very last to seat them. It makes more sense now that I know they give out more tickets that they have seats. It was a bit chaotic at that time, and I felt bad for the poor missionaries/workers too.

  • Sjel
    Dec. 12, 2009 10:24 a.m.

    We left at 6:00, got stuck in traffic because of an accident, chose to park in paid parking because it would have taken twice as long to park in the free parking with our permit, got something to eat as quickly as possible, got into the Conference Center at 5 minutes to, got to the balcony and had no seat. For me the hardest part was just seeing all the elderly couples who had no seat. And I remember my sister saying that the feeling she had when we walked into the chaos was what she thought it would feel like when there is a burning building and you realize there's nothing you can do because there's no way out. It was a bit panicky. The missionaries tried the best they could and kept apologizing. It was a tough experience for them as well and not something they enjoy. The thought kept coming back to me to just do away with standby and give the people who get tickets every opportunity to get there no matter where they are from, Utah or any other state. But, I know there is no perfect system.

  • granny
    Dec. 12, 2009 10:20 a.m.

    We have submitted our names for selection for the past five or six years--not selected. An aquaintance submitted her name and her father's (who is in a rest home and not able to go), and BOTH names were selected--so she got double tickets. I see her logic, and that's fine. My question is--WHY ARE THOSE WHO HAVE TICKETS ONE YEAR NOT DISQUALIFIED THE NEXT YEAR??? At least give us a 'fighting' chance to be chosen--even if we do live in Utah.

  • Sjel
    Dec. 12, 2009 10:16 a.m.

    Well, I am Rosewood's sister who had the experience with her. And we both really enjoyed getting to sit in the tabernacle and watch the concert from there. Yes, Natalie Cole struggled a bit on Thursday and her style won't appeal to some. It didn't appeal to my roommate, but all she said was "I didn't really like her singing." I don't really enjoy listening to Natalie outside of her Christmas music and her CD "Unforgettable." I like Jazz, but she doesn't appeal to me all the time either. I loved hearing "Caroling, Caroling" and "The Holly and the Ivy." But, throughout the concert I also found myself kind of cheering her on silently, hoping she would be able to hit things because she was struggling. So, we were definitely on her side. We were wondering if she is still trying to get some strength (of body and voice) back after her transplant. Still, we both felt fondly about it. The rest of the experience was tough and it's okay that it was and it's okay that we recognize that it was. (continued below)

  • Rosewood
    Dec. 12, 2009 10:09 a.m.

    I have twice had the wonderful opportunity of being in the conference center for Christmas concerts. We have loved Sissel's singing for years and were EXTREMELY blessed to see her twice in 2006. I felt a bit greedy that year and wasn't planning to go again, just watch it the next year on t.v. We decided to do standby last year on Thursday just in case some people didn't come, with the idea of enjoying Temple Square at Christmas if it didn't work out. We enjoyed talking with people from many places, including outside Utah. We spoke with a man that lived in another state, but flew in to Utah each week for work. He had been to several of these concerts, but he was always given the tickets either by employers or someone else. I explained how difficult it was to get tickets. He had no idea it was that hard. After Thursday night's experience, I realize again that I have been greedy. I'd like others to have the same wonderful few hours I've had. I won't try for tickets again so maybe someone else can get them.

  • re: Anonymous @9:07
    Dec. 12, 2009 10:04 a.m.

    Woaaaaa.... Let get this right
    You say you considered leaving the church because you did not get a ticket to a free concert that thousands want to go to??
    You are either a troll
    or you have a VERY WEAK testimony - if one at all!
    I have never heard anything so stupid in my life!

  • Anonymous
    Dec. 12, 2009 9:07 a.m.

    The Concert was very good, even though I was not "approved" when I registered; so I asked a friend for ticket. This registration or selection method stinks, and the Church needs to find another method for distributing tickets. I have been "dissaproved" by this selection method so many times that, this time, I considered leaving the Church.

  • Thanks ...
    Dec. 12, 2009 9:02 a.m.

    ... Anne P for your comments.

  • Music Fan
    Dec. 12, 2009 8:52 a.m.

    I am in the production, and heard both Thurs and Fri performances. For those who were there Thurs night and weren't very impressed with Ms. Cole, you should know that she was MUCH better Friday night. My guess is she either had a cold on Thurs or was still adjusting to the altitude and travel. For those who have tickets for Sat or Sun, please don't be discouraged by the minority of detractors - it's a wonderful concert and you won't want to miss it! Just get there PLENTY early, and expect to be sitting in traffic for a long time - if you set your expectations correctly, you will not be disappointed.

  • observer
    Dec. 12, 2009 8:20 a.m.

    skitarghee, I too was weirded out by the adoration of the tree. just me, I agree that Miss Cole wasn't in top voice, but you can still tell she has a real feel for the songs. And the fantastic organ solo stole the show.

  • Traffic and Parking
    Dec. 12, 2009 8:03 a.m.

    There have been a few state that there was a concert at Symphony Hall and a Jazz game last night that contributed to the traffic and parking problems last night. The Jazz did not play last night...but they do play the Lakers tonight so if you thought it was bad last will be much worse tonight.

  • Disappointed Dad
    Dec. 12, 2009 7:54 a.m.

    My wife got tickets and had planned the whole night out for us and our two teenage daughters. We left Riverton at 6:00 and it was not enough to make it. The traffic was aweful and after dropping the ladies off at the Conference Center and finally finding a parking place six blocks away they got in but I did not. They were in by 7:00 but our section was already full so as they waited to be seated I waited outside to get in with about 200 others who had someone inside "saving a seat". At about 7:40 the ushers started telling everyone that if your party was inisde but not yet seated that you would not be able to attend. I was disappointed with the lack of organization and the obvious extream over distribution of tickets. I am not sure why the organizers do not do assigned seating and then have a stand by line to fill the empty seats of non-shows? It seems that there would be a lot less chaos and disappointment involved.


  • GatsbyGirl
    Dec. 12, 2009 7:44 a.m.

    When the Church and Choir have a system where there are significantly less tickets than those who desire them, there is actually a "value" put on the ticket--really no different than a monetary value. First there is the waiting on pins and needles to see if we got a tickets. Then having to leave work an hour early, fight traffic and find parking amidst the construction and other events, which is expected, and then getting to the doors by at least a 1/2 hour before the concert starts (and in some cases, ticket holders still didn't get in.) And then waiting for the show to begin, only to get what I would call an "okay" performance. When the choir tours the venue charges for tickets AND there are assigned seats where concertgoers don't have to endure the unnecessary stress the Church is putting on attendees. I deserved something more polished for my efforts. Seems like many were dazzled by the glitz and didn't see that this show was clearly missing a cohesive glue. Ms. Cole's health may have factored, but where was the thread with her and the choir?

  • OldpuebloGuyinWyo
    Dec. 12, 2009 7:25 a.m.

    Got 3 tickets, left Evanston at 5 pm. Traffic was thick but dropped my wife off so she could get seats and hold two for me and our in there just in time for the start. We planned well and executed well. Parking was available nearby and through all of it (traffic, long lines, cold, etc.) it was a very pleasant experience and well worth it. My wife was so thankful that I surprised her with the tickets and just loved the performance. Some people complained vocally but for the most part, everyone seemed to be in a good mood and pleasant to talk to. My 25 year old son was moved. He said "fantastic". For those who were critical, you missed the spirit of the concert and shortchanged only yourself. So I say don't try to get tickets next year....just allow others to get them (Like Boise, Idaho) who want to be there. Kudos to all the performers and to the First Presidency for doing this at no cost to the public. Shoot, I'd pay good money if I had to. But, that is not what the spirit of the season is all about.

  • Snowbound
    Dec. 12, 2009 7:11 a.m.

    skitarghee...why don't you ask a refund? Let me guess, the glass is always half empty for you right?

    You get a free tickets to one of the most sought after events in the Western U.S., have an opportunity to listen to a eight time grammy award winner (who just went through major surgery not long ago among other things), a Pulitzer prize winner and arguably the most famous choir in the world and you complain about some lighting and the choice of one of the numbers?
    How sad for you.

  • Anne P.
    Dec. 12, 2009 6:54 a.m.

    “People that pay for things never complain. It’s the guy you give something to that you can’t please.” - Will Rogers
    “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain.. .and most fools do.” - Dale Carnegie

    The L.D.S. Church each year freely offers a beautiful gift to our community, a massive production that else where would command a hefty ticket price — and some still complain. How sad. My sincere thanks to all those who willingly sacrificed their time, talents and resources to present this lovely production to those of us who did little to deserve it. It was a wonderful way to begin this Christmas season.

  • Opera Singer
    Dec. 12, 2009 6:34 a.m.

    Wow skitarghee, you need an attitude adjustment. Thank goodness you're such an expert on all matters regarding music and dance and can enlighten us, otherwise I wouldn't know what to like or dislike. I think I'll reserve judgment until I've seen it myself, thank you. And if I'm disappointed, I think I'll keep that to myself, too. Until you've performed for large audiences, you have no idea what you're talking about.

    If you didn't like it, why don't you just keep your mouth shut? Now THERE'S a concept!!

  • Anne P.
    Dec. 12, 2009 4:53 a.m.

    "People that pay for things never complain. It’s the guy you give something to that you can’t please." -Will Rogers
    "Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain.. and most fools do." -Dale Carnegie

    A beautiful gift is freely offered to our community by the L.D.S. Church - a huge undertaking that elsewhere would come with a hefty ticket price, and still some complain. How sad. My sincere thanks to all those who sacrificed their time and talents and resources for offering us a wonderful way to begin the Christmas season.

  • Anonymous
    Dec. 12, 2009 2:34 a.m.

    To: 'LDS In CA'

    I served in the Arcadia, CA LDS Mission, so I am familiar with the traffic. But you see, you have multiple freeways to get around on. But living in Utah County, which includes the Provo/Orem area, it can be very hard to get to Salt Lake on I-15. That is the major roadway between Salt Lake & Provo/Orem. We do have a few surface streets, but the travel is slow on them. Not to mention, the weather this week has been horrid. I have been back to the LA area since my mission, and I would rather drive there any day instead of Salt Lake & Provo/Orem.

  • djustupinnite
    Dec. 12, 2009 2:11 a.m.

    Any Christmas Program by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Guests is Awesome, Fantastic and very touching. Not enough words in the English language to describe. So I will add some from other languages: Benesississisimo! Mucho Bueno! Wunderbar! Fantastique! Fantastico! Used to know more but I have been priveledged to be a invited guest at a practice only, in 2003 and the experience was pure HEAVEN and I felt like I was singing with a choir of Angels! That was back when Craig Jessop and Mack Wilburg shared the directing. I want to say that Mack Wilburg's ability to arrange is just plain and simple Genius! Right up there with the best! And Brother Jessop's way of getting you to sing/say the words so each was distinct, Genius as well. I will ever be grateful for this experience. I live in a wheelchair and was in one then too and they carried me up the Tabernacle steps to the seats to sing with the Choir for one night but oh what an experience to never be forgotten! God Bless the Tabernacle Choir !!! And all the behind the scenes workers too. Thank you forever!

  • skitarghee
    Dec. 11, 2009 11:59 p.m.

    Good concert tonight. Not great. Natalie Cole was as good as I expected...I think she is a good entertainer. The most spontaneous applause was for the organ soloist...the crowd exploded. The overall experience seemed to be performer centered instead of audience centered. Blue lights on constantly, wierd "O Christmas Tree" song with pagan-like attitude (Where's that correlation committee when you need it?). Dancers galore of mediocre quality, Ms. Cole out front while someone else is a soloist with a kid's choir.....
    It looked like the work of a committee. The Choir needs to reassert dominance over this program.

  • shawilli
    Dec. 11, 2009 11:40 p.m.

    I alaways make sure to rush out and buy the Christmas concert DVD as soon as it is released, but as wonderful as the dvd program is there is really nothing quite as wonderful as being in the audience live.I have been lucky enugh to be in the conference center many times for live performances and they have always just amazed me and how well done they are, I am looking forward to the DVD release once more late next year.

  • Rosewood
    Dec. 11, 2009 11:31 p.m.

    It was a rather difficult experience, not so much for me, as for the heartache for the disappointment of those around me. Yes, I did struggle with some resentment and bitterness for myself. I won't deny it. I don't mean to complain, at least I don't think so. Perhaps I am simply not able to express myself correctly. I am thankful for this experience. As my sister and I talked things over, we thought perhaps it was a greater blessing to experience what we did, so that we might more fully appreciate what we have and learn to handle ourselves with courteousy and decorum no matter the situation. We did have the blessing of watching it live in the Tabernacle on two screens. That is something we told ourselves we were fortunate to be able to do. We truly felt bad though for those who had luckily gotten tickets and may not have had the chance previously and may not have it again.

  • Overbooking
    Dec. 11, 2009 11:23 p.m.

    Since they are free tickets, the Conference Center has a formula of what percent to "over book" the conference center. Say it is 5%. That means if everyone shows up, you won't get seated. It is a first come, first served situation. They know over the years that a certain percentage never shows up. I wish they would simply book 100% (nothing over) and let standby have the seats that are left. It would still fill up. The standby last night didn't let one person in. Not sure what happened tonight.

    Oh well, it is an incredible event. But get there VERY early or your ticket is useless.

    Pay for the tickets, I see you have a beef. But Free is free :)

  • Dave
    Dec. 11, 2009 10:40 p.m.

    It was incredible, the sound was phenomenal, and Natalie's story about singing Christmas carol's with her family that her father wrote was very moving. Even though there was a serious crowd to get into the building, and even a little bit of a rush when the closed the doors, the ushers and everyone else there were helpful and kind to everyone who didn't get there quite on time. Thanks for the concert, it was truly wonderful.

  • went there tonight
    Dec. 11, 2009 10:27 p.m.

    It was a great concert. Quit complaining.

  • Memorable eveing
    Dec. 11, 2009 10:17 p.m.

    The smooth singing Natalie Cole brought the Spirit of Christmas to the Conference center with her heart felt mesmerizing rendition of The Holly and the Ivy and The Christmas Song.It is accurate to say that the other music performed by the choir was world class and inspiring.Along with the dancers and colorful scenery, everything added up to a exhilarating and very memorable evening.

  • Boise, Idaho
    Dec. 11, 2009 9:38 p.m.

    I have been trying for 2 years to get tickets, but they are computer generated and again was not picked. You who live in Utah...please do not complain. There are lots of us out-of-towners who would love the chance to be there. I guess I will have to wait until the CD comes out..again.

  • Rosewood
    Dec. 11, 2009 9:13 p.m.

    The seats are only marked for sections, so you can sit anywhere in the section as long as there is still room. Otherwise they send you to another section that's not yet full. At least that has been my experience with pretty much any event I've attended at the Conference Center. The dilemna is that they want to make sure all the seats are filled for these free concerts, so they offer standby. The tickets state on them that you are only guaranteed a seat if you are in your seat by 30 minutes prior to the start. That was 7:30 last night. On the back it states that they start standby seating at that time. However, that was not true last year when I did standby. I was about 10th in the standby line and they started seating us about 5 minutes prior to the starts. I know they waited as long as possible because there were so many people just trying to get through security into the building. I think maybe it is time to assign seats for these concerts. It's so hard to get the tickets anyway.

  • Another Orem attendee
    Dec. 11, 2009 9:06 p.m.

    I knew we were in trouble when we didn't leave the house in Orem until 6, but somehow we did manage to get seated by 8, partly due to my dropping the others in our group off at the Conference Center and then parking 7 blocks away.

    Normally I wouldn't fight the crowds, but our daughter is one of the dancers and we would have attended had the Utah Jazz been singing with the choir. I'll agree that the organ solo was very entertaining and Ms. Cole only marginally so.

  • Anonymous
    Dec. 11, 2009 8:36 p.m.

    Not preassigned? That stinks. this time my husband will not be going with me because of his wheelchair and because of it we never have had good seats always in the back on the balcony. Which the last time I was at the conference center I asked why it is not wheelchair accessable in the front on the lower level. The excuse it wasn't necessary because of the big screens. Sorry but even people with eye problems such as myself those big screens don't work. Aren't wheelchair bound people suppost to have access to all public areas in a building?

  • Anonymous
    Dec. 11, 2009 6:59 p.m.

    I am surprised the tickets didn't give a preasigned seat. It had been that way before and it worked fine, more orderly. I wish I were able to see the concert in live. I saw Natalie Cole performing with Andrea Bocelli in his Christmas show and it was just as good as it gets. And the performance of Bocelli with the Choir... pure heaven!

  • reserved seating proponent
    Dec. 11, 2009 6:45 p.m.

    what may be needed are alpha-numeric marking of all 21,000+ seats such as is done at arenas/stadiums, thereby avoiding the frantic rushing for seats and "stampeding" by the elderly.

  • RockOn
    Dec. 11, 2009 6:36 p.m.

    Loved the concert. But... put 22,000 in one area, add on a symphony concert blocks away and a Jazz game a few more blocks away... and expect traffic.

    The Choir was fantastic. The organists rendition of Tchaikovski's Nutcracker elements... amazing. Natalie Cole... well, charming but her high notes are a bit gone and she didn't have much energy. Still, wonderful event. Fantastic in fact.

  • Rosewood
    Dec. 11, 2009 5:42 p.m.

    It is a great blessing to live so close and have this opportunity. Still, it can be a very tiresome and frustrating experience just to get to the Conference Center on time and actually get a seat. I do not understand why merely stating that it was a long evening just to get there is seen as complaining by others. My sisters and I were okay with not getting seats, but we felt great sadness for the elderly couple that was in front of us all the way up the escalators to the balcony. When we got to the top, we joined a large crowd of people with nowhere to sit unless you were fortunate enough to have someone saving you a seat. This is the way it works. It says it on the tickets. But I couldn't help wondering what happened to this couple and if they lost their opportunity simply because he is unable to walk as fast as other people.

  • T
    Dec. 11, 2009 4:59 p.m.

    OK, kids: let's not tear apart a free concert that is offered as a gift to the public.

  • Dutchman
    Dec. 11, 2009 4:16 p.m.

    I beg to differ. I was there last night and Natalie was terrific. She is not an opera singer. She is a pop and jazz artist. She did great. She was engaging and seemed to love every minute of it. Those attending are in for a treat!

  • So Cal Reader
    Dec. 11, 2009 4:04 p.m.

    Re: just me: Unless I missed it in the article, I didn't catch why Natalie Cole was picked in the first place. I did read how Mack Wilbert apparently contacted McCullough, but I didn't catch why Cole? Any insight? Again, can't wait to catch the broadcast Sunday morning!

  • LDS In CA
    Dec. 11, 2009 3:14 p.m.

    I wish we could be there but living here in CA it would difficult. I wish "Awed in Orem" would complain...Until you live everyday and expereince the traffic in CA, you can't complain and then on top of that you are able to attend such an incrediable your back yard. Please don't complain about the blessings you have.

  • Awed in Orem
    Dec. 11, 2009 2:45 p.m.

    I attended the "dress rehearsal" last evening and was awestruck by the performances. The traffic from Orem to downtown SLC was brutal. The parking impossible, the lines into the Conference Center long and the security check tolerable. I left my home at 5:30 and got into my seat at 7:50 pm, but believe me, it was worth it. For me, Richard Elliott's organ solo, "Good King Wenceslas" stole the show. Those of you with tickets are truly fortunate.

  • just me
    Dec. 11, 2009 2:32 p.m.

    I loved the choir!! They did a great job.... Natalie cole on the other hand....

    She just didn't do very well. compared with Brian Stokes Mitchell (last years guest artist) she was NOT engaging to the audience.... and her vocals sounded screechy. I like some of her past stuff, but MAN! 80,000 people are gunna see that concert and nearly all of them be disappointed.

  • Anonymous
    Dec. 11, 2009 2:22 p.m.

    Make sure you go early as traffic last night prevented some from attending.

  • So Cal Reader
    Dec. 11, 2009 1:43 p.m.

    What a great article. I can't wait to watch this production Sunday morning as part of Music and the Spoken Word. What a continuing great ambassador for the church this great choir is. As Pres. Hinckley said, "the greatest choir in the world."