The Tabernacle Choir Blog

Choir Received Gold Medal in the Oval Office

Washington D.C. holds a special place in the Choir’s history.  The Choir made their first visit to the Nations capital in 1903 giving a concert for President William Howard Taft. Since that time the Choir has performed for presidential inaugurals and in special white House concerts. 

But receiving the National Medal of the Arts at the White House November 12, 2003 was a singular moment. The distinctive gold medal sits proudly in the Choir’s case next to its Emmy awards and other distinctions.

Said President George W. Bush at the presentation in the Oval Office: “We value the contribution of this organization that has remained steadfast for more than a century.” The inscription on the certificate recognized the Choir “for its extraordinary contributions to music and the art of chloral singing; the wide reach and impact of its music; and for inspiring audiences worldwide.” First Lady Laura Bush attended the ceremony with Choir leadership including Christensen, Lloyd Newell, John Longhurst, Craig Jessop, Mack Wilberg and Stan Parrish.

Mac Christensen who served as president of the Choir from 2000 to 2012 received the award on behalf of the Choir. Just days after the award Christensen showed the award to the Choir and asked, “Let’s have a hand for all those who were here before we were.” Mack Wilberg, who at the time was the associate director of the Choir, described the experience receiving the award as “magnificent” saying, “It was much more than I had anticipated, and you were on our minds during the entire period.  Thank you to all of you and all who have come before.”

Congress established the National Medal in 1984.  The prestigious American honor is the highest recognition specifically given for achievement in the arts conferred to an individual artist on behalf of the people in areas of dance, music, poetry, photography, screen and plan writing. Notables are many and include John Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, Robert Show, Yo-Yo Ma, Aaron Copland and other luminaries.