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Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square meets new presidency

By Genelle Pugmire - | Aug 30, 2021

President Michael O. Leavitt, center stands with his new counselors, L. Whitney Clayton and Gary B. Porter, on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021.

It was supposed to have been the choir’s first Thursday rehearsal after more than 18 months on hiatus due to COVID-19. Instead, members of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square gathered for the first time together to meet their new president and his counselors and to say goodbye to their old president.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square recently announced a restructuring of the choir presidency and announced from Utah Gov. Michael O. Leavitt as the new president, with his wife Jacalyn Leavitt as his companion, similar to a mission president’s role with his wife. Leavitt replaces Ron Jarrett, who has served as president of the choir since 2012.

“This is the moment in the choir’s history to launch a focused and magnified commitment to expand the supply and the accessibility of sacred music around the world,” Michael Leavitt said.

On Thursday, Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé announced L. Whitney Clayton to serve as Leavitt’s first counselor and Gary B. Porter as his second counselor. Members of the choir were asked to officially sustain the new presidency, by the traditional show of hands.

“We are so grateful that it’s a presidency because with the counselors, it makes a strong unit,” Jacalyn Leavitt said.

Clayton is an emeritus General Authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Porter is a senior vice president at Deseret Management Corp. Together with Leavitt, the new leaders will manage the administrative components of The Tabernacle Choir organization, including the supervision of more than 700 volunteers.

The devotional, held in the Tabernacle and via livestream, was open to all choir organization members. Remarks were given by Jarrett and his wife, Lucie; the two new counselors; President and Sister Leavitt; and Caussé, the choir’s adviser, who presided at the meeting.

“This is a great choir. It’s the best in the world, and we’re happy to be a part of it. We’ll do everything we can to help this choir become the global choir it’s envisioned to be,” Clayton said.

“We were humbled but thrilled because of the great admiration we have for the choir, for the organists, for the directors. As we reflected back on all the times we listened to the choir, they just have such deep resonance and spirituality that it’s just been moving for us,” Porter added.

Leavitt announced that the choir will meet virtually on Thursday, Sept. 9, for orientation, followed by a practice on Sept. 21. “It is our aspiration that we once again can fill the Conference Center with live music as we begin to prepare for the choir to sing at general conference,” he said. “We need to resume performance. For nearly a year and a half, COVID-19 and its variants have interrupted our progress. Well, the time has come for us to reboot our work.”

He continued, “Live performances of ‘Music and the Spoken Word’ … will commence in due course. And we are, of course, leaning forward as we anticipate our Heritage Tour in 2022.”

In interviews following the announcement of his calling, Leavitt said, “The objective needs to be to give a global church a global choir, and to provide a means by which the world can begin to feel the value of sacred music in a way that will give them peace and joy.”

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