189th Semiannual General Conference

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square provides music for the Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, sessions of the 189th Semiannual General Conference.

On Friday, the Grinch pulled Christmas out from under thousands of patrons who attend the annual Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square concert.

The Tabernacle Choir announced that it is canceling its annual Christmas concert featuring the choir, the orchestra at Temple Square and the bells at Temple Square. The cancellation is consistent with earlier direction provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to postpone large public gatherings in areas challenged by COVID-19. Also canceled is the fall concert for the orchestra at Temple Square and the November concert for the bells at Temple Square, according to a press release.

“This is disappointing for all of us, but we have found a silver lining in these unique times by discovering innovative ways to share our vast repository of music with more people globally than ever before through the blessing of modern technology,” explained Choir President Ron Jarrett. “As such, we are exploring ways to continue the Choir’s annual traditions of TV specials and recordings next year even in the absence of a live Christmas concert in 2020.”

Over the years the choir has featured a number of star vocalists from Broadway to opera and even American Idol. Most recently those attending the concerts have heard from Kristin Chenoweth, Kelli O’Hara, Alfie Boe, Alex Boye, Natalie Cole, Renee Fleming, Sutton Foster, Amy Grant, Yo Yo Ma, Santino Fontana, David Archuleta, The Muppets from Sesame Street. Master’s of Ceremony have included Richard Thomas, Tom Brokaw, Peter Graves, Edward Hermann and Hugh Bonneville.

The choir also announced that the remainder of the 2020 choir audition cycle will be postponed until 2021. Applicants who were successful in phase 1 of the 2020 audition application process are receiving an email from the choir informing them that the remaining three audition phases will be postponed until 2021.

Despite today’s announcements, choir music director Mack Wilberg said the choir organization ensembles are still fulfilling their musical mission. “More important now than ever is the need for experiences that elevate, uplift and bring people closer to the divine,” he said. “For over 150 years, both in good times and in bad, The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square has endeavored to bring joy, peace and healing to its listeners through music. Together with the Orchestra and the Bells, and through the use of our archives and technology, we have been and will continue to be active in providing that musical uplift through this pandemic and beyond.”

In the past six months, the choir organization has continues to pursue its musical mission to the world in a number of ways, according to the church.

Despite being unable to rehearse or perform since March 2020, the choir organization continues to pursue its mission in the following ways:

  • Each week “Music and the Spoken Word” continues to broadcast on radio, television and the internet with prerecorded programs from past years.
  • The Tabernacle and Temple Square organist continue to live stream a new online series of concerts “Piping Up!” Organ Concerts at Temple Square” without live audiences at noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The kickoff concert for the series is still available on YouTube.
  • The choir has refreshed its mobile app for both Apple and Android phones with easier accessibility to inspirational Choir music and information.
  • As it did in April 2020, the choir will participate in the October 2020 general conference meetings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through use of its prerecorded performances.
  • Scheduled for release this 2020 Christmas season are the special PBS and BYUtv broadcasts of “Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir” featuring Broadway star Kelli O’Hara and “The Waltons” actor Richard Thomas, taken from the Choir’s 2019 Christmas concerts.
  • The choir and orchestra will release a new Christmas CD, DVD and book, each titled “Christmas Day in the Morning,” also from the 2019 concert, in mid-October 2020.

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801) 344-2910, Twitter

@gpugmire

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