The 2012 Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert showered the audience with marvelous surprises, and brought down the house – literally! Special guest artists were Tony Award-winning tenor Alfie Boe and Peabody Award-winning news journalist Tom Brokaw, with a special surprise appearance by Lt. Gail “Hal” Halverson, the World War II US Army Air Corps “Candy Bomber“.
There was also another secret unexpected ‘guest-appearance’…by my deceased Grandpa.
“All of the music, All of the Magic, All of the Family..
Home Here With Me!”
The audience and the performers were equally moved during the 2012 Christmas performance. This program offered more than just an entertaining show. It offered a spiritual journey. I was personally brought to tears many times, but during our final dress rehearsal I was completely overcome. That evening was the very first time Tom Brokaw’s narration was actually revealed to the cast. The story had been kept carefully under wraps. Mr. Brokaw masterfully recounted the story of how a pilot named Lt. Gail “Hal” Halverson during the post-WWII Berlin Airlift became known as the “Candy Bomber” and “Uncle Wiggly Wings“. Out of a chance encounter, and a simple act of kindness, a great miracle occurred.
Brokaw’s narration recreated the events for the audience through old news reels, home movies and incredible special effects, culminating with the “fly over” of a bomber airplane, and the dropping of hundreds of actual candy parachutes from the sky onto the audience.
Chills ran up and down my spine, and the tears flowed. To fully understand my emotion, I have to tell you about my grandfather Cmdr. Dallis J. “Red” Christensen. “Red” (nicknamed for his bright hair color) served in WWII as a Navy pilot, and was one of the brave airmen who tirelessly flew urgently needed supplies as part of the Berlin Airlift – “Operation Vittles” – bringing vital food, clothing, medical supplies, and hope to the blockaded people of Germany. Red was much more than just a Grandpa to me. During my early years being raised by a single mother, Grandpa became the father figure in my life. As his oldest grandchild, he and I always shared a special bond. He died at the age of 97, just a few short weeks before I would perform in this Christmas Concert.
It is not often that someone can actually have their Grandfather in their lives for 46 years. I am so blessed! It was extra hard to have to finally say goodbye, because I guess I just started thinking I’d get to keep him forever. But, when his eternal sweetheart & constant companion of 69 years (our beautiful Grandma June) unexpectedly passed away first, Red quickly “slipped the surly bonds of death” to be with her, just 20 days apart.
That is why when the story of the WWII Berlin Airlift, “Operation Little Vittles” and the Candy Bombers unfolded, my heart became very tender, and I was overcome with emotion.Even though I could not see Grandpa that day, I could feel his presence so strongly with me. His spirit was there.
The story was no longer just about Lt. Halverson. It was about all of those who served during that Great Rescue…and most important to me, the story was about my Grandpa. Tears streamed down my face, my throat choked up, and I could no longer sing during that segment of the dress rehearsal. For the remainder of the week during each performance, whenever we reached Tom Brokaw’s narration segment I had to concentrate very hard to contain my emotions so that I could sing! I would picture my grandpa standing right next to me. I could imagine his stern-yet-tender voice commanding in a loud stage whisper “Pull it together, girl! You’ve got a job to perform here!”. And, of course, that would always make me smile and almost laugh. Grandpa Red’s spirit of courage and example of giving selfless service gave me the courage to smile & sing and serve and give. Every night as the candy parachutes floated gently down upon a weeping audience, I could feel the true spirit of Christmas, perhaps stronger than I ever had before. It is the Spirit of unconditional love, and the Spirit of eternal hope.
Prior to the official video release this year, I had an opportunity to honor my Grandfather’s WWII airlift service by sharing some of my personal memories and family photos with the producers of the “Home For The Holidays” Christmas Concert video. I recently had a chance to watch the video, and I discovered that my interview was included in the “special bonus features” of the DVD! Grandpa Red was such a HUGE Mormon Tabernacle Choir fan. He would have been tickled pink about that!
I love you, sweet Grandma June & Grandpa Red. I miss you. But, I know you’re saving a seat for me. I’ll see you on the other side! – MoSop
Alfie Boe, an award winning British performer is renown for his starring role as Jean Valjean in the popular musical Les Misérables. He played the role as part of the televised PBS Special 25th Anniversary Les Misérables in Concert. Alfie performed his beloved signature solo from Les Mis during the 2012 Christmas Concert with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Here it is:
BRING HIM HOME – Alfie Boe
2012 Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas
And finally, check out this cool TIME-LAPSE Video of the 2012 Christmas Concert from Construction to final performance. This time-lapse is comprised of over 107,000 photos taken every 20 seconds during a 35 day period; all rehearsals, Music and the Spoken Word broadcasts, the First Presidency Christmas Devotional and the final performance.
2012 Christmas Concert Time-Lapse
- “Home For The Holidays” DVD The PBS Concert Special with Live audience. The DVD includes several hours of special bonus features; exclusive guest artist interviews, behind-the-scenes, spotlights, and more (including my interview about Grandpa Red)
- “Home For The Holidays” CD Recording 2012 Christmas Concert with Alfie Boe and Tom Brokaw
- “Christmas From Heaven” illustrated book The story of Lt. Hal Halverson and the Candy Bombers – includes a DVD of Tom Brokaw’s narration from the Concert.