For 90 years, The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square have entered homes worldwide through their weekly broadcast: “Music & the Spoken Word.”
At 7 p.m. this Saturday they will celebrate that history with a one hour pre-recorded musical event, “Music for a Summer’s Evening.”
The July 19th edition of “Music & the Spoken Word” will be broadcast 4,740 for the choir. The original broadcast was on July 15, 1929.
“The 60-minute broadcast will feature specially selected performances by the choir and orchestra along with interviews and performances of renowned guest artists who have appeared with the choir,” said a choir press release. “Not to be missed are the five Tabernacle organists performing the ‘William Tell Overture’ in a virtual quintet.”
The concert celebrates the impact and influence on audiences around the world of “Music & the Spoken Word” weekly broadcasts, which span nearly the entire lifetime of radio.
Musical selections include Sissel’s rendition of “Slow Down” from her guest performance in 2019, Kristin Chenoweth’s 2018 performance of “Angels Among Us,” and “What a Wonderful World,” sung by Bryn Terfel in 2013.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will also share a couple of personal experiences with the choir.
While the choir is particularly known for its worldwide tours, singing for presidential inaugurations and for the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City, most people know the group for its weekly broadcasts heard in their own homes.
Bishop Gerald Caussé, presiding bishop, and advisor to The Tabernacle Choir organization, said: “Music is an international language — sacred music, in particular. When the choir sings, there is no language anymore. There are no borders. Music is a way for the church to reach out to all the world, all people and communicate with them from the heart.”
The choir has broadcast faithfully each week even during its tours which have taken the group to the great concert halls of the world and to many of the most beloved historical and religious sites in the world, including the Holy Land.
By the number of live chats of listeners to the weekly broadcasts, it is apparent “Music & the Spoken Word” has come to mean even more to many households during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the church.
“Now, in place of live broadcasts of the choir and orchestra, each week specially selected encore episodes of ‘Music & the Spoken Word’ are aired on radio, television, cable and throughout the world over the internet. Tens of thousands more listeners each week are using the broadcast as a start to in-home worship services and receiving the special uplift that the program offers,” according to the press release.
The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square began as a small group that sang at an Aug. 22, 1847, church conference, just 29 days after Brigham Young led his flock of faithful pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley.
Since that time, there have been 15 choir directors and numerous organists for the choir. Pres. Ronald Reagan called the group “America’s Choir.” He requested they sing his favorite rendition of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” at his inauguration, according to the church.
The choir is composed of 360 volunteer singers ages 25-60. To become a member of the choir, one must go through a series of rigorous tests from vocals to music theory. They must be recommended by their local clergy and must be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in good standing.
Over the years the choir and orchestra have performed with vocalists and groups from around the world, from Sting to Donny Osmond, and with numerous Broadway and opera stars to groups like the Great Britain’s King Singers and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.
“Music for a Summer Evening: Celebrating 90 Years of Broadcasting” replaces the choir and orchestra’s annual July concert usually held in conjunction with community-wide Pioneer Day celebrations, according to the church.
The pre-recorded program was originally planned because the choir and orchestra anticipated being on tour in July 2020. Even though the 2020 choir tour has been postponed and community Pioneer Day celebrations have been canceled due to COVID-19, the pre-recorded 90th anniversary celebration will still air on schedule.
When the anniversary celebrations conclude, and current health restrictions end, the choir, orchestra and Tabernacle organists plan to continue the weekly tradition of broadcasting “Music & the Spoken Word.”
The concert will be available on the following broadcast and internet channels: TheTabernacleChoir.org; the choir’s YouTube channel; the choir’s Facebook page; Broadcasts.ChurchofJesusChrist.org; the Latter-day Saint Channel; and by using the Alexa Choir skill. Fans also can watch the concert on BYUtv, BYUtv.org, and the BYUtv app on Sunday at 5 p.m.