Mormon Tabernacle Choir Blog

Four Emmy® Award Statuettes Now Grace Choir Display!

Four beautiful Emmy® Awards now sit in the display case in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir office. Since 1987, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has been recognized on four different occasions for its television programming by the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences—a membership organization dedicated to honoring excellence in television.

However, something was missing. There was no statuette for the Choir’s first Emmy, long thought to have been awarded for a concert with famed artist Shirley Verrett. Thanks to some investigative work by staff and volunteers in the Choir office, the correct information has come to light. In the files of Margaret Smoot, the producer of the original program awarded the first Emmy, was found the documentation that enabled the Choir to receive a copy of the original statuette.

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The History of the Latter-day Saint Hymn “O My Father”

The hymn “O My Father” was written by Eliza R. Snow and was originally titled “My Father in Heaven.” Snow wrote it as a poem in Nauvoo, Illinois, before she and the other members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were forced to flee the city due to persecution.

The poem was first published in the Nauvoo newspaper Times and Seasons in 1845 and was initially sung to many different tunes, including the tune AUSTRIA, which is the tune currently used for “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken” (no. 46 in the current hymnbook). In the end, music composed by James McGranahan, who was not a member of the Church, was chosen as the best fit for the hymn.

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24 Singers Retire from Choir after 288 Years of Service

On April 22, 2018, the Choir held a retirement ceremony to say goodbye to 24 devoted members who together represented 288 years of volunteer service in the Choir. Singers in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir may serve for a total of 20 years or until their 60th birthday—whichever comes first.

At this retirement ceremony, held each April following a broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word, retiring Choir members are recognized and their families are recognized for their support and sacrifice. The meeting is conducted by the Choir’s president, Ron Jarrett, and short tributes to each retiree are given by Choir music director Mack Wilberg. This year, President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also honored retirees with brief remarks.

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Watch Organist Brian Mathias Perform His First Organ Solo

On January 22, 2018, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir announced that Brian Mathias would be the new Tabernacle organist taking over for Clay Christiansen following his retirement. Before joining as a Tabernacle organist, Mathias was an adjunct faculty member at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas.

Upon joining the Choir organization Mathias marveled, “I have been an avid fan of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir since I was a teenager, and it is a dream come true for me to have the opportunity to be a part of what they do. The conductors and organists are musicians of the highest caliber, and I am thrilled to work alongside them.”

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15 Videos to Honor the Best Moms in the World!

Let’s face it—life just wouldn’t be possible without mothers. Their amazing strength, selflessness, and determination give them the much-deserved title “the backbone of society.” They take on multiple roles and don’t always receive the praise and appreciation they deserve, yet they continue to raise generation after generation of successful children.

In a spoken word segment from last year’s Mother’s Day special, Lloyd Newell remarked, “Mothers, by their very nature, are always thinking of others. Years of sacrificing and serving, of loving and giving, have taught them that their joy is increased as they bring joy to others.”

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Bells on Temple Square Spring Concert: “Bells Are Ringing!”

The Bells on Temple Square celebrate spring with their annual concert entitled “Bells Are Ringing!” The performance will take place Friday, June 8, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square.

Everyone who watches this delightful handbell ensemble perform will tell you that the artful bell ringing often looks like the performers are dancing with their bells. “With the bells, it’s not just about playing the notes,” said Teresa Winder, one of the charter members of the Bells on Temple Square. “It’s a visual art!”

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How to Download Music from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Bob Dylan wrote the song “The Times They Are a-Changin,” and the same thing can be said of today’s music industry. Big-box electronics retailer Best Buy recently announced that they will be phasing out all CD sales by July 1, 2018—and Target is expected to follow.

In the last 50 years, vinyl records, 8-tracks, and cassette tapes have all met a similar fate, with some formats making a comeback in recent years. A recent Forbes article stated: “Vinyl records are projected to sell 40 million units in 2017, with sales nearing the $1 billion benchmark for the first time this millennium. This impressive milestone has been untouched since the peak of the industry in the 1980s.”

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Watch Music and the Spoken Word in Over 50 Languages

General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a worldwide gathering which happens twice each year. The sessions include spiritual instruction from Church leaders, and uplifting music. The conference is broadcast throughout the world, and translated into multiple languages.

One of the great benefits of these translations is that the Music and the Spoken Word broadcast that precedes the morning session of conference is also translated. The April, 2018 Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast was translated into over 55 languages.

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Did You Know the Choir Used to Sit in Mixed Formation?

Today, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sits in the Choir loft in what is known as SATB formation, which stands for soprano, alto, tenor, bass. In the not so distant past, the Choir sat in mixed formation, which involves singers of different parts sitting next to each other, such as basses and altos in one row and tenors and sopranos in another.

Of course there are advantages and disadvantages to any formation. It has been said that in the traditional SATB formation that the blend is better, it’s easier to conduct, and the overall sound is smoother, while with a mixed formation the tuning is better, it is easier to identify problems, and singers are more aware of their errors.

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