Mormon Tabernacle Choir Blog

Choir music director Mack Wilberg discusses the Choir’s use of the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein.

The Choir and Orchestra: Performing the Music of Rodgers and Hammerstein

For over 40 years, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has been performing the beloved songs of composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist and playwright Oscar Hammerstein II. Beginning in the 1940s and 1950s the team of Rodgers and Hammerstein changed the world of music and theater. Their popular Broadway musicals began what is now considered the “golden age” of musical theater. Their music today continues to give audiences around the world encouragement, hope, and comfort.

During the 2017 RootsTech family history conference, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square presented a concert of Rodgers and Hammerstein music entitled “Music—It Runs in the Family.” The performance included narration by Hammerstein’s grandson Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein III and guest soloist Dallyn Vail Bayles. 

In a short 3-minute video prepared for the concert, three Mormon Tabernacle Choir music directors—Mack Wilberg (2008–present), Craig Jessop (1999–2008), and Jerold Ottley (1974–1999)—discussed their experiences and feelings when performing Rodgers and Hammerstein music with the Choir and Orchestra.

“I always turned to Rodgers and Hammerstein,” Jerold Ottley remarked, “when I felt the program needed relief, needed a lifting point, where people could come back and connect with their own lives.”

“The songbook of Rodgers and Hammerstein, I believe, stands the test of time—and it speaks to everyone,” Mack Wilberg observed. “Not only is this music timeless … but inspirational.”

Craig Jessop added: “It is the genius of Rodgers and Hammerstein. … That is what I see in their music; they go right to the heart!”

Watch the directors’ video and enjoy the other glimpses listed below of the Choir and Orchestra’s performances of Rodgers and Hammerstein music: