The Tabernacle Choir Blog

Retiring Choir member David Fjeldsted, with Choir leaders and his father-in-law, former associate Choir music director, Donald Ripplinger. Fjelsted's retirement ends 42 consecutive years of Choir service from Ripplinger's immediate family.

Choir Members Volunteer “For the Joy of Music”

When composer-conductor John Williams conducted the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square during the Cultural Olympiad for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City he observed: “These are people who are there for the joy of music. It’s not a job with them; it’s a mission.”

John Williams was correct. Sharing their joy—and love—of music is what the Mormon Tabernacle Choir members, all volunteers, have in common. Being a Choir member is not a “job.” They have employment and family responsibilities outside of their Choir experience, but they volunteer their time and talents to share with others the joy that comes through uplifting music.

Each singer spends an average of six hours or more each week rehearsing and performing with the Choir. Rare among choral ensembles, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has a public performance every week of Music and the Spoken Word, which is broadcast worldwide over radio, television, and the Internet. That weekly broadcast, with additional scheduled concerts, tours, and recordings, means the sheer volume of music the Choir members must learn, perfect, and perform is staggering. In spite of the hours, Choir members continually express their gratitude for the opportunity to sing music that lifts spirits and brings joy, peace, and healing to all.

On April 23, 2017, after the Music and the Spoken Word broadcast, 22 Choir members and one stage crew volunteer were recognized for their years of service as they retired from the Choir organization. Each Choir member may sing for a total of 20 years or until they reach the age of 60, whichever comes first. The combined service of these departing Choir members totaled 253 years!

Among comments shared by departing members about their Choir experience:

“I am humbled to have ever qualified, overwhelmed by the opportunities to sing praises to my Savior, and touched by the blessings which have come my way.”

“I have received answers … and timely inspiration from the hymns and songs we sing.”

“I am profoundly changed by the sermons taught in the glorious music we sing.”

“The music has filled my soul! The Choir members have filled my heart with love!”

With a fond farewell to these departing members, the cycle continues as 34 new singers begin their time in the Choir. These new members participated in a rigorous selection process that began last summer when audition applications were submitted. After 16 weeks of classroom training and singing in the Temple Square Chorale, the new members are ready to join as full-fledged members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. As these new volunteers join the Choir, they will continue the tradition of sharing their love of music and their religious faith with all who watch and listen to the Choir the world over.