The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is known for the power and talent of its members when they sing. And preparing for general conference is a big task that must be done quickly.
“It depends on the music,” said Eric Schetselaar, baritone in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. “This time around, we started a couple of weeks ago because we had a couple of pieces that were brand new and that were very different from the songs that you hear with rhythms and notes that are different from the hymnal version, so we started a couple weeks ago. Normally we start like the Sunday before.”
The choir sings at almost every session of general conference, which makes for a busy weekend.
“We start at 8:00 a.m. Saturday morning,” Schetselaar said. “We have to be in the loft dressed, and we go through that whole first session, and then we are able to leave the loft in about 20 minutes to a half an hour for all the general authorities to clear the tunnels so we can get back over to the tabernacle and dress.”
Throughout the weekend, the choir members are rushed from place to place dressing, eating, rehearsing and performing all the way until the second session on Sunday.
“We’re supposed to be back in the loft at 1:45 p.m. for the second session which goes from 2-4 p.m. and we are released from the loft at about 4:20 p.m. to clear the tunnels for the general authorities, and then we get back to the tabernacle to change and we are allowed to leave, so it’s a long hard weekend,” Schetselaar said.
Many sacrifices are made in order to be part of this wonderful choir.
“I would say that the first sacrifice I make is obviously Thursday nights and Sunday mornings, you know being away from my family,” Schetselaar said. “I have been able to go and do certain things with my family. I wasn’t at the broadcast the morning that my son passed the sacrament for the first time, so I was there to watch him pass the sacrament and also my other son, the first time he was there to bless the sacrament.”
Being in the choir makes all the sacrifices worth it.
“My life has changed from being in the choir, my life; my personal life has become deeper,” Schetselaar said. “I’ve grown closer to my Heavenly Father and to my Savior and it’s like being able to sing praises to God, every week with some of the most talented people that I’ve ever met and some of the most wonderful people that I’ve ever met.
“A lot of times people tell us ‘thank you for your sacrifice’ and I just, I think, it’s my blessing, you know, it’s not a sacrifice, even though I’m not spending those nights with my family. I still feel like I get so much out of it, being able to sing and the experience, the personal growth, not even speaking about the growth that you feel as a combined unit with the choir, it’s wonderful.
“I feel like it’s a blessing, it’s a privilege for me to come and to be able to be in the choir and to partake of the Spirit that I feel every time we meet.”