Name Change Just Another Part of the Tabernacle Choir's Impressive History

By Marquez, Saul | Deseret News (Salt Lake City), October 5, 2018 | Go to article overview

Name Change Just Another Part of the Tabernacle Choir's Impressive History


Marquez, Saul, Deseret News (Salt Lake City)


SALT LAKE CITY — In light of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's announcement that its name will change to The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, here is a look back at the group's impressive 171-year history.

The choir’s roots go all the way back to Salt Lake City’s first pioneers, according to the choir's website. While not quite the choir that’s known today, a small choir performed at a church conference on Aug. 22, 1847 — only 29 days after the arrival of the first pioneers in Salt Lake Valley.

The group waited a little longer before acquiring its famous name. On July 4, 1873, as part of an Independence Day performance, the choir first performed in the Salt Lake Tabernacle as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

The choir experienced its first taste of public acclaim after participating in a choral competition at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 where it placed second. But it wasn't until the advent of sound recording when the choir reached a national audience. In 1910, Columbia Records recorded the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and released phonograph records of those recordings, allowing people to listen to the choir in their homes. A set of recordings was also released in 1925. By then, the choir was already touring.

The choir — an all-volunteer organization — further extended its reach when it ventured into the realm of public broadcasting in 1929 with its radio program, “Music and the Spoken Word,” which has since become the longest continuous program to broadcast over the airwaves.

In 1962, “Music and the Spoken Word” expanded to television. Since its beginning, “Music and the Spoken Word” has been seen and heard internationally on over 2,000 radio and television stations. It has also enjoyed over 4,500 episodes.

Throughout the 20th century and in recent years, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir branched out even further, taking its music to audiences around the world. It has toured across the United States and abroad since 1893, but its 1991 European tour — which included stops in Russia — may have been its most monumental. The choir sang in Frankfurt, Berlin, Zurich, Strasbourg, Budapest, Warsaw, Moscow, Prague and Leningrad in the year just following the fall of the Berlin Wall. Many saw the tour as a missionary opportunity, and it prompted then-vice president of the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic Alexander Rutskoi to announce that the republic had granted official recognition to the church, according to LDS Church News. …

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