For the first time in the ten years the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has been online, the official website has been updated. It now has a clean, modern look that offers far more information than the previous version.
Fans of the Choir can quickly find upcoming appearances at the top of the front page. This is followed by news highlighted in bright, colorful boxes—a history of the choir, a study on the impact of organ music, and information on choir auditions highlighted this section the day I visited the site.
Need a quick dose of Mormon Tabernacle Choir music? There are videos right on the website you can watch, including an entire televised special. Putting together a holiday wish list? The site offers a complete listing of products with links for sites that sell the music. You can listen to brief clips of each song on the albums. There is also a listing of places on which to find televised appearances.
A blog keeps fans up-to-date on new developments and offers fun insights into the unique choir and visitors can find out about other related programs, including the orchestra and the bell choir.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is popular with people around the world, regardless of faith. While some of their music is uniquely Mormon, others are of general religious origin and some are just fun or culturally popular tunes. Their concert tours consistently sell out and include a variety of musical styles that surprise many people. They also include impressive soloists, including the very popular Alex Boyé.
The Choir was nicknamed “America’s Choir” by Ronald Reagan and the nickname has stayed with them since. It was formed in the mid-19th century, making it one of the oldest choirs still in existence. They began broadcasting on radio in 1929 and is one of the longest running programs in history. The program, Music and the Spoken Word, includes a brief non-denominational spiritual message each week, as well as the famed choir music. They’ve performed for ten presidents and sung at the funerals of Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.
The choir is made up entirely of unpaid volunteers. Despite the extensive amount of time and sacrifice required, it is very difficult to obtain a place in the choir. Applicants undergo a six-month audition process that includes a personally made recording, a recommendation from a Mormon bishop (lay pastor) stating that the applicant is a church member in good standing, and written tests, as well as vocal auditions in person.
If accepted, they then are assigned to the Temple Square Choral, where they are trained extensively and given opportunities to perform. From there, they graduate into the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but periodically rotate back into the Choral for renewed training.
The Choir is also known for the impressive organ that accompanies them. Currently, the organ has 11,623 pipes organized into 147 voices and 206 ranks and is made of wood, zinc, and various alloys of tin and lead. However, the original organ was much smaller. It was built by Joseph Ridges and some of his original workmanship still exists in the organ, which has been enlarged and modernized many times.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.