Story by Alexandria Ramirez and Ashley Gillett, Photos by Chase Lawrenson and Jordan Hinckley
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir performed at the BYU-Idaho Center Sept. 21. This is the choir’s third time coming to BYU-Idaho since its formation in 1849.
The choir receives invitations to perform all over the world. The choir’s president, Ron Jarrett, looks into each invitation, decides which ones to accept and schedules tours and day events accordingly.
Various factors are considered when deciding on which songs to sing at each concert.
“Our audiences come from all walks of life, so we try to sing a little something for everyone,” choir director Mack Wilberg said.
The music selections benefit more than just audience members. Mindy Butler, a BYU-I alumna and member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, said individual choir members also receive spiritual strength from the selections.
“‘Nunc Dimittis’ is about Simeon seeing the Christ child at the temple. You just imagine how Simeon must have been feeling. He did everything that he needed to do to be in the right place,” Butler said. “I think that we feel like that sometimes. As people, maybe here at BYU-I, are waiting for their spouse or for that well-deserved ‘A,’ those promises, when they finally happen, we know that Heavenly Father keeps his promises.”
Butler and Matthew Tune, another BYU-I alumnus and member of the choir were involved in the Collegiate Singers during their time at BYU-I.
“That was some great preparation for singing in the Tabernacle Choir,” Tune said. “We have once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. It’s just amazing the gro of people that the choir attracts. It really is a force for good in the world today.”
In order to become involved and take part in these experiences, the choir expects both music ability and an overall organized lifestyle in its singers.
“There’s a hierarchy of your priorities: your relationship with God, with your family, your job and then your commitment to the Tabernacle Choir,” Tune said.
Members are expected to perform for at least five years and must maintain at least an 80 percent attendance.
Choir membership is a calling, and members treat it as such.
“Some people serve as young women’s president, or elders quorum president, or whatever the case may be. This is my calling. It’s the only calling in the church that you actually apply for,” Tune said.
Wilberg encourages BYU-I students to reach toward their dreams of singing in the choir or to advance their musical abilities.
“We’re always looking for choral experience, which you can certainly get here at BYU-I. If you come to Salt Lake and are over 25 years of age, come see us,” Wilberg said.
Throughout its 165-year history, the choir has managed to continue to create music.
Just as it has evolved from the small choir it once was, it continues to progress today.
“We want you to watch, because in the next little while some things are going to be announced. It is very exciting news that’s going to happen in October. Our goal is to reach the world. We may not be able to travel to the world, but our music wants to reach the world and all generations,” Jarrett said.
Despite whatever changes may come, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has shared their musical talent with millions worldwide.
“You are the answer to prayers. You are the fulfillment of a dream. You are on the Lord’s errand,” President Kim B. Clark told the choir.