The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square has pilot programs to extend its reach and mission through expanding “Music & the Spoken Word,” a different approach to travel and including more international voices in the choir, leaders announced on the group’s website Friday, Nov. 18, and also on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
The choir also announced plans to travel to Mexico City, Mexico, June 13-19, 2023.
In a meeting with the entire choir membership this week, including the Tabernacle Choir, the Orchestra at Temple Square, the Bells at Temple Square and other volunteers and professional staff, President Russell M. Nelson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, shared his vision for the choir.
“The Church will continue to grow. It will fill the world. It will continue to bless more and more nations, tongues and people,” said President Nelson. “The Lord is hastening His work in the promised global gathering of Israel. You can be sure that the Tabernacle Choir, Orchestra and Bells at Temple Square will be a pivotal part of that era.”
The choir’s presidency, which is comprised of choir President Mike O. Leavitt and two counselors, President L. Whitney Clayton and President Gary B. Porter, announced a change to the organization’s mission statement — adding the words “throughout the world.”
The expanded mission statement now reads: “The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square performs music that inspires people throughout the world to draw closer to the divine and feel God’s love for His children.”
- “Music & the Spoken Word”: The weekly “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast will be expanded with foreign language versions, President Clayton outlined. The first two languages will be Spanish and Portuguese, with the pilot broadcasts to begin next year. These episodes will include native speakers presenting the “Spoken Word” messages with graphics and visuals reflecting the geographies.
The weekly “Spoken Word” text is available in 16 languages, the choir’s website noted earlier this year. The broadcasts are streamed on the country Facebook pages of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and include language subtitles for the spoken introduction and concluding sign-off, the song titles and the “Spoken Word” message.
- Travel: Travel assignments will be shorter and more frequent with a small — and more nimble — touring company, President Porter explained. Historically, the choir has traveled every two years. Now, the choir will travel annually but for a shorter time. Choir leaders and staff will also experiment with larger, joint performances and coordination with other Church entities. The choir will test this new travel pilot with an assignment to Mexico City on June 13-19, 2023.
The choir’s Heritage Tour, originally scheduled for 2020, to Nordic countries and the United Kingdom was postponed to 2021 and then 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic; it was ultimately canceled.
In 2018, the choir’s Classic Coast Tour had performances in several cities in California and in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Seattle, Washington.
- Reflecting global membership: For the choir to better reflect the worldwide Church, plans are being made for qualified Latter-day Saint singers from Mexico, Central America, South America, West Africa, the Philippines and Asia to audition for opportunities to sing with the choir during April 2023 general conference, President Leavitt announced.
“It is possible this will be a one-time event. Or perhaps it will be something we will do periodically. The most likely outcome, however, is that through this pilot project we will gradually see new options and possibilities that will help the choir better represent the worldwide Church,” President Leavitt said in the news release.
President Leavitt said the choir will move forward in faith, one step at a time, to “inspire people throughout the world to draw closer to the divine and feel God’s love for His children.”
The choir in 2022
In the past year, the choir’s leaders have worked to expand the reach of the Tabernacle Choir.
In February, the choir presidency announced four “high-level” objectives:
1. Expand the choir’s digital audience.
2. Magnify the choir’s missionary role.
3. Ensure that the choir reflects the Church’s worldwide mission.
4. Increase worldwide visibility.
Also this year, former NBA player Thurl Bailey joined the group of rotating greeters for the in-person audiences at the weekly “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcasts. The Piano Guys duo of pianist Jon Schmidt and cellist Steven Sharp Nelson were guest performers at the “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast in August. Recently, the West Point Glee Club performed with the choir for Veterans Day.