HOLIDAYS ON PBS
Capturing the Feeling
It’s a cold winter evening, but the fire burns brightly, and the warmth of friends and family fills the house. Another holiday has come. As loved ones gather to celebrate, many turn to media to enrich their festivities. When they want content they can trust to educate and inspire, more than 100 million viewers each month turn to PBS. There, in celebration of Christmas, Thanksgiving, and other days of remembrance, they find music-based programming that draws them together and invites the spirit of the season. That’s where WB Creative comes in.
More than 20 years ago, members of the WB team began exploring how to present holiday choirs and orchestras on television, often featuring major artists from Broadway, opera, movies, and television. Music videos were just coming into popularity, satisfying a growing appetite for “music you can see.” In the midst of that revolution, a key question presented itself: how could traditional concerts of choral and instrumental music remain engaging and relevant?
One of the first major efforts that emerged from that question was A Thanksgiving of American Folk Hymns, a visually-rich presentation conceived and directed by WB co-founder, David Warner. The program premiered on PBS more than 25 years ago, and to this day, it has continued to be broadcast year-round on more than 200 PBS affiliate stations. The recorded concert represented a burgeoning effort to push the boundaries of multi-camera recording, considering how to do more than the usual master shot/medium shot/close-up coverage of a live event. The film featured beautifully designed stage settings, evocative lighting, creative use of camera positions, and artful sequencing of shots to explore how to express the feeling and messages of music—from choral masterworks, to folk songs, popular favorites, inspiring hymns, and majestic anthems.
The Thanksgiving production was followed by the creation of another PBS favorite, Songs of Praise and Remembrance, which was broadcast on the network for many years, as well. The program continued to explore the marriage of music, thoughtful camera work, and beautiful design elements all working together to create a harmonious and inspiring outcome.
Then, in the early 2000’s, a new opportunity to collaborate with one of the world’s most well-known classical music entities emerged. For more than 15 years now, the founders of WB have worked closely with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square to create inspiring narrative content designed to bring the Choir’s concerts, television specials, and broadcasts to life. Many of these productions have gone on to become PBS hits, including the annual presentation, Christmas with the Tabernacle Choir, which has been the most-watched holiday special on PBS for many years.
In working with the Choir, the WB team incorporated a key creative element that has proven both effective and meaningful: thoughtful, affective storytelling. During the past 15 years, many stories have been told from the Choir’s stages, delivered by some of the most celebrated and globally recognized stars of stage, screen, and television: Walter Cronkite, Kristin Chenoweth, Hugh Bonneville, Jane Seymour, John Rhys-Davies, and the Sesame Street Muppets, to name a few. This one, featuring NBC News anchor, Tom Brokaw, was an audience favorite:
WB’s collaboration with the Choir has spanned a variety of holidays and other occasions including contributions to the Choir’s PBS broadcasts for Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and historical commemorations, among others. Most recently, WB has provided the writing and creative direction for a nationwide 20th anniversary commemoration of 9/11, presented on select NBC affiliates, as well as the two-hour retrospective, “20 Years of Christmas with the Tabernacle Choir” with Brian Stokes Mitchell, to be featured on PBS during the 2021 holiday season.
Since WB first began exploring how to capture the feeling of important celebrations, tens of millions of viewers have experienced the company’s work on PBS. As WB continues to innovate fresh approaches and develop new productions, its interdisciplinary team keeps the end goal in mind: families and friends gathering together, switching on the television or their favorite streaming app, and finding themselves immersed in the spirit of the season.
Capturing the feeling of the holiday season for the world? That’s Creative that Matters.
Please enjoy this collection of some of our favorite Christmas stories from 15 years of collaboration with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.
Are you ready to create world class experiences that capture the feeling of your brand? Let’s talk. We would love to bring Creative that Matters to your organization.