Mormon Tabernacle Choir

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Mormon Tabernacle Choir
File:Mormon Tabernacle Choir logo
Origin Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
Founding 1847 (168 years ago)
Genre Worship, classical, gospel
Members 360
Music Director Mack Wilberg
Affiliation The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Associated groups Orchestra at Temple Square, Temple Square Chorale, Bells on Temple Square
Awards National Medal of Arts
American Classical Music Hall of Fame
NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame
Grammy Award
Emmy Awards
composed by Naomi Ward Randall in 1957. Sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in 2005.

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The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, sometimes colloquially referred to as MoTab or Tab Choir, is a Grammy- and Emmy Award-winning, 360-member, all-volunteer choir. The choir is part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and its funding is provided by the sale of albums, concert tickets, licensing of recorded performances, and donations.[citation needed][1][2] The choir's current music director is Mack Wilberg.[3]


Called "America's Choir" by U.S. President Ronald Reagan,[4] the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is made up of 360 men and women; all are members of the LDS Church in good standing. Although many choir members live within close proximity of the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah, some members commute long distances for practices and the choir's weekly television and radio broadcast. Choir members are not paid for their participation or performances. There are often husband–wife combinations and some families have participated in the choir for generations.

The choir was founded in August 1847, one month after the Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley. Since July 15, 1929, the choir has performed a weekly radio broadcast called Music and the Spoken Word, which is one of the longest-running continuous radio network broadcasts in the world.[5] At the end of the choir's 4165th live broadcast on July 12, 2009, the show's host, Lloyd D. Newell, announced another milestone that the show had hit: the completion of its 80th year in existence. The show has been televised since the early 1960s and is now broadcast worldwide through approximately 1,500 radio and television stations.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir's sound is often said to be world-famous, and instantly recognizable. When recording, the choir is usually accompanied by the Orchestra at Temple Square, the Salt Lake Tabernacle's pipe organ, or both. With the completion of the church's Conference Center, a larger auditorium directly adjacent to Temple Square, the choir now has two halls available for performance.

The minimum age for participation in the choir is 25. Choir members are currently limited to twenty years of participation, or until the member reaches the age of 60, allowing new members to join the choir on a regular basis. There is also a limitation of the distance a member may live from downtown Salt Lake City, in part to help ensure safety for the travel that would be required for weekly rehearsals and other performances. New choir members participate in the Temple Square Chorale training choir, a combination music theory/performance school.


The Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square performing on December 3, 2005, in the LDS Conference Center under the direction of Craig Jessop

The LDS Church has considered music a vital part of worship from the beginning of its history. Early headquarters of the church in Kirtland, Ohio, and in Nauvoo, Illinois, both had standing choirs. It was no surprise that a choir was formed and ready for the first general conference held in the Salt Lake Valley less than a month after the Mormon pioneers arrived.[6]

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is named after the Salt Lake Tabernacle, where it has performed for over a hundred years.[7] The Tabernacle was completed in 1867 and the choir held its first concert there on July 4, 1873.[6] The Tabernacle also houses an organ consisting of 11,623 pipes, making it one of the largest and most elaborate organs in the world.[6] The organ has long been associated with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's "signature sound," though the choir does sing a capella or to orchestral accompaniment as well.

The choir started out fairly small and rather undisciplined. In 1869, George Careless was appointed as the choir's conductor and the Tabernacle Choir began to musically improve. Under Careless, the first large choir was assembled by adding smaller choral groups to the main Salt Lake Choir. This larger choir, just over 300, sang at the church's October 1873 general conference. It was at this point that the choir began to match the size of the spacious Tabernacle. On September 1, 1910, the choir sang the song, "Let the Mountains shout for Joy",[8] as their first ever recording. Three hundred of the 600 members showed up for the recording.[9]

Later directors brought more solid vocal training and worked to raise the standards of the choir. The choir also began improving as an ensemble and increased its repertoire from around one hundred songs to nearly a thousand. In July 1929, the choir performed its first radio broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word. By 1950, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performed numerous concerts each year and had released its first long-playing recording. During the 1950s, the choir made its first tour of Europe and earned a Grammy for its recording of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic". Later directors of the choir continued to hone and refine the choir's sound.


Logo from 2004 for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's celebrations of 75 years of Music and the Spoken Word

Since its establishment more than 150 years ago, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has performed and recorded extensively, not only in the United States but around the world. During that time, the choir has received much praise and recognition. The following are some of its milestones:

  • Visited 28 countries outside the United States.
  • Performed at 13 World’s Fairs and Expositions.
  • Released more than 130 musical compilations and several films and videotapes.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has performed for ten presidents of the United States beginning with William Howard Taft.[10] The choir has also performed at the inaugurations of United States presidents Lyndon B. Johnson (1965), Richard M. Nixon (1969), Ronald Reagan (1981), George Bush (1989) and George W. Bush (2001).[11]

Other notable events the choir has performed at include the following:

It has also participated in several significant events, including:


From its first national tour in 1893, under the direction of Evan Stephens, to the Chicago World's Fair, the choir has performed in locations around the world, including:

Christmas concerts[edit]

Mormon Tabernacle Choir performing at Temple Square in 2014

The choir holds a yearly Christmas concert in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City during the month of December. Typically, the concert consists of four shows: a Thursday dress rehearsal, Friday and Saturday shows and a Sunday abbreviated concert after the morning Music and the Spoken Word program. The combined audience for the four days of concerts is approximately 84,000. Tickets to the concert are free, but are distributed randomly through an internet drawing. A live album (CD/DVD) is typically released, along with the concert being aired on PBS, during the latter part of the following year.

Guest artists participate and sing with the choir most years. A guest narrator is also invited most years to read the Christmas story from the Book of Luke. Past guest artists include:


The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has about 15 staff members including a president, directors, organists, a Music and the Spoken Word announcer, and two business-related staff members.

Music directors[edit]

Mack Wilberg is the current director, with associate director Ryan Murphy.


Richard Elliott, Clay Christiansen, Andrew Unsworth, Bonnie Goodliffe, and Linda Margetts are the current organists.

Music and the Spoken Word announcers[edit]

Since its inception in 1929, the "spoken word" segment of the program has been voiced by four separate individuals. The original writer, producer, and announcer of the spoken portion of the broadcast was Edward (Ted) Kimball, who would stand at the top of a tall ladder and announce the name of each performance piece into the microphone suspended from the Tabernacle ceiling. Kimball remained at the post for only 11 months, when he was replaced by Richard L. Evans, who continued in that capacity until his death in 1971. J. Spencer Kinard took over as announcer in 1972 until he stepped down in 1990. Lloyd D. Newell has been the announcer since then.

Awards and inductions[edit]

The choir has a list of prestigious awards, including the National Medal of Arts (2003),[27] a Grammy Award for Best Performance by a Vocal Group or Chorus (1960), and three Emmy Awards (1987, 2013, 2014).[28][29][30] The choir is also an inductee to the American Classical Music Hall of Fame (2015) and the National Association of Broadcasters Broadcasting Hall of Fame (2004).[31] The largest act to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 is the 320-person Mormon Tabernacle Choir, whose version of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" reached No. 13 according to the The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits in 1959.[32]

Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Recipient / Nominated work Award Result
1960 "Battle Hymn of the Republic" from the album Lord's Prayer Best Pop Performance by a Vocal Group or Chorus Won
1967 "Bless This House" from the album Bless This House Best Classical Choral Performance Nominated
2007 Spirit of the Season (feat. Sissel) Best Classical Crossover Album Nominated
Best Engineered Album, Classical Nominated
2009 Noël (with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, track 13) Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album Nominated

Other awards[edit]


  • Peabody AwardMusic and the Spoken Word for Outstanding Entertainment in Music



  • Freedoms Foundation's George Washington Award — Music and the Spoken Word — Fourth of July Broadcast




  • National Medal of Arts[36]
  • International Radio and Television Society Foundation's Special Recognition Award
  • Chorus America's Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence








Since its first recording in 1910, the choir has earned five gold albums (two in 1963-The Lord's Prayer and Handel's Messiah, one in 1979- The Joy of Christmas, and two in 1985- The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Sings Christmas Carols and Joy to the World) and two platinum albums (in 1991- Hallmark Christmas: Carols of Christmas and 1992- Hallmark Christmas: Celebrate Christmas!). The choir has made over 300 recordings and continues to produce albums. For some live performances and albums, the choir has collaborated with large orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London, the Boston Pops Orchestra, and the newly formed Orchestra at Temple Square. The choir's own record label was formed in 2003.

Several award winning popular artists have reflected on the beauty of the choir's music publicly including: Gladys Knight (of Gladys Knight and the Pips),[39] Sting (of The Police),[40][41] James Taylor.,[42] Ric Ocasek (of The Cars),[43] and The Osmonds.[44]

Number one albums (2003-present)[edit]

Title Details Peak chart positions
US Classical
US Classical Crossover
US Christian
America's Choir: Favorite Songs, Hymns, & Anthems[45] 1 42
Choose Something Like a Star[47]
  • Released: 2005[48]
  • Label: Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  • Format: Digital download, CD
Spirit of the Season[49]
  • Released: 2007[50]
  • Label: Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  • Format: Digital download, CD
1 11
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing: American Folk Hymns & Spirituals[51]
  • Released: 2009[52]
  • Label: Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  • Format: Digital download, CD
1 8
Heavensong: Music of Contemplation and Light[53]
  • Released: 2010[54]
  • Label: Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  • Format: Digital download, CD
1 15
100 Years: Celebrating a Century of Recording Excellence[55]
  • Released: 2010[56]
  • Label: Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  • Format: Digital download, CD
1 6
Men of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir[57]
  • Released: 2010[58]
  • Label: Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  • Format: Digital download, CD
1 9
This Is the Christ[59]
  • Released: 2010[60]
  • Label: Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  • Format: Digital download, CD
1 1
GLORY! Music of Rejoicing[61]
  • Released: 2013[62]
  • Label: Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  • Format: Digital download, CD
1 11
He Is Risen (EP)[63]
  • Released: 2014[64]
  • Label: Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  • Format: Digital download, CD
1 19


See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Larson, Jennifer (2008-03-28). "Mack Wilberg is officially named Mormon Tabernacle Choir music director". Deseret News. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  4. ^ Avant, Gerry (January 27, 2001). "Mormon Tabernacle Choir on parade". Retrieved 3 May 2011. 
  5. ^ Mikita, Carole (2006-04-30). "Mormon Tabernacle Choir Marks 4,000 Broadcast". KSL. Retrieved 14 January 2009. 
  6. ^ a b c "Official Website". Mormon Tabernacle Choir. 2012-02-21. Retrieved 2014-03-16. 
  7. ^ Carma Wadley (2010-06-13). "Mormon Tabernacle Choir celebrates 100 years of memorable recordings". Deseret News. Retrieved 2014-03-16. 
  8. ^ "Buy Mormon Tabernacle Choir CDs and DVDs - Official Shop". 2012-02-21. Retrieved 2014-03-16. 
  9. ^ Turley, Richard E., Jr. (September 2010), "The First Mormon Tabernacle Choir Recordings, 1910", Ensign 
  10. ^ "Official Website". Mormon Tabernacle Choir. 2012-02-21. Retrieved 2014-03-16. 
  11. ^ Dumont, Jane (April 1989), "News of the Church: Tabernacle Choir and Other Church Members Participate in U.S. Presidential Inauguration", Ensign: 76 
  12. ^ "News of the Church: Tabernacle Choir Performs in Brazil", Ensign, May 1981: 106–107 
  13. ^ "Newsroom: Mormon Tabernacle Choir Announces 2011 Tour to the Eastern United States and Canada", (LDS Church), 14 January 2011 
  14. ^ "Mormon Tabernacle Choir Tickets, Tour Dates and Schedule at StubPass!". Retrieved 2014-03-16. 
  15. ^ "Mormon Tabernacle Choir Releases 2013 Midwest Tour Schedule". Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  16. ^ "Mormon Tabernacle Choir Tour Information". Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  17. ^ Michael De Groote (2010-12-20). "Looking at Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Christmases". Deseret News. Retrieved 2014-03-16. 
  18. ^ Edward Reichel (2008-12-07). "Singer praises Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Wilberg". Deseret News. Retrieved 2014-03-16. 
  19. ^ "Photo: Natalie Cole performs with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir". Deseret News. 2009-12-11. Retrieved 2014-03-16. 
  20. ^ "David Archuleta to sing with Mormon Tabernacle Choir". 2010-10-07. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  21. ^ Means, Sean P. (2011-10-06). "Nathan Gunn, Jane Seymour joining Mormon Tabernacle Choir for Christmas". The Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, UT: MediaNews Group). ISSN 0746-3502. Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  22. ^ Burger, David (2012-12-07). "Alfie Boe and Tom Brokaw bring star power to Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert". The Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, UT: MediaNews Group). ISSN 0746-3502. Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  23. ^ "Christmas from Heaven: The Candy Bomber Story (Narrated by Tom Brokaw)". YouTube. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  24. ^ Eagar, Emilee (October 8, 2013), "Soprano, British actor to join Mormon Tabernacle Choir for Christmas concerts", Deseret News 
  25. ^ "2014 Christmas Guests Are Brought to You by the Letters F-U-N!!!". Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  26. ^ R. Scott Lloyd (16 October 2014). "Sesame Street Muppets, Santino Fontana to join Mormon Tabernacle Choir for Christmas concert". Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  27. ^ "National Medal of Arts Recipients for 2003". The White House. 2002-11-12. Retrieved 14 January 2009. 
  28. ^ a b c "Frequently Asked Questions About the Mormon Tabernacle Choir". Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  29. ^ a b "BYU Broadcasting, Tabernacle Choir Awarded Emmys - Church News and Events". 2013-11-23. Retrieved 2013-11-30. 
  30. ^ a b
  31. ^
  32. ^ "Battle Hymn of the Republic and John Brown Song". PineTree Multimedia Productions. 2014-01-23. Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  33. ^ Wakley, Ralph (1987-02-12). "Morman Tabernacle Choir Plans 3000th Broadcast". The Schenectady Gazette 93 (116) (Schenectady, NY: Daily Gazette Co). UPI. p. 6. ISSN 1050-0340. OCLC 20836106. Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  34. ^ Williams, Danna (2013-07-12). "George Foster Peabody Award Winners" (PDF). Athens, GA: George Foster Peabody Awards. p. 23. Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  35. ^ "Choir honored for love of God, country", Church News, 1988-11-26.
  36. ^ "News | NEA". Retrieved 2014-03-16. 
  37. ^ "Newsroom: Mormon Tabernacle Choir Honored with Mother Teresa Award", (LDS Church), 20 November 2006 . Retrieved 2008-04-04.
  38. ^
  39. ^ "A conversation with Mormon convert and 7-time Grammy Award-winner Gladys Knight". 12 September 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  40. ^
  41. ^ Scott D. Pierce (25 September 2004). "Scott Pierce: PBS special salutes choir". Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  42. ^ "James Taylor: Singing with Mormon Tabernacle Choir 'worth the wait'". 6 September 2013. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  43. ^ "Rivers Cuomo Is Trying to Be All Right". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  44. ^ "Osmonds, Mormon Tabernacle Choir excited for 'milestone' marking Pioneer Day concerts". 25 July 2008. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  45. ^ "America's Choir - Mormon Tabernacle Choir - Awards - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  46. ^
  47. ^ "Choose Something Like a Star - Mormon Tabernacle Choir - Awards - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  48. ^
  49. ^ "Spirit of the Season - Mormon Tabernacle Choir - Awards - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  50. ^
  51. ^ "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing: American Folk Hymns & Spirituals - Mormon Tabernacle Choir - Awards - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  52. ^
  53. ^ "Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD tops Billboard category". 11 February 2010. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  54. ^
  55. ^ "Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD is No. 1 on Billboard's classical chart". 23 June 2010. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  56. ^
  57. ^ "Men of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir - Mormon Tabernacle Choir - Awards - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  58. ^
  59. ^ "This Is the Christ - Mormon Tabernacle Choir - Awards - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  60. ^
  61. ^ "Mormon Tabernacle Choir - Awards - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  62. ^!-music-of-rejoicing/id493369040
  63. ^ "He Is Risen - Mormon Tabernacle Choir,Orchestra at Temple Square - Awards - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  64. ^
  65. ^
  66. ^ Tug-3 (3 November 2000). "Mr. Krueger's Christmas (TV Short 1980)". IMDb. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]