110 Years of Recording Excellence Continues for The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square
September 2020 marks 110 years since the first recording made by The Tabernacle Choir. The miracle of recorded sound has enabled the music of the Choir and, for the last 20 years, the Choir and the Orchestra, to bless the lives of millions around the world. Here is a chronological listing of significant moments in the Choir's recording history.
September 1, 1910
History-making first acoustic recording of a large choir. Done in the Salt Lake Tabernacle for the Columbia Phonograph Co. with Evan Stephens conducting with J. J. McClellan and Joseph Daynes at the organ. Soundwaves focused into two receiving horns caused a flexible diaphragm to vibrate, moving a needle against a rotating warm wax disc to create the recording.
First “electronically-assisted” recording using a microphone produced a 10” 78 RPM recording on the Victor label.
July 15, 1929
First broadcast of Music & the Spoken Word, now the longest continuously broadcast network program with over 4,700 broadcasts.
April 9, 1940
First-ever performance of stereophonic sound at Carnegie Hall by Harvey Fletcher using recordings of The Tabernacle Choir and organ.
October 24, 1949
First long-playing record, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir of Salt Lake City—Volume 1, released by Columbia, timed to commemorate 20 years of Music & the Spoken Word.
November 29, 1959
Grammy Award for music director Richard P. Condie for “Best Performance by a Vocal Group or Chorus” category for Choir recording of “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Multiple Grammy Award nominations would follow, the latest two in 2007 for Spirit of the Season with Sissel.
July 23, 1962
First live intercontinental television satellite broadcast featured the Choir performing in front of Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota.
October 14, 1962
First televised broadcast of Music & the Spoken Word.
Two Choir albums, The Lord’s Prayer and Handel’s Messiah, released in 1959, reach gold status. Three more would follow: The Joy of Christmas in 1979 and The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Sings Christmas Carols and Joy to the World both in 1985.
Choir’s first CD digital recording, a re-issue of the 1970 LP The Power and the Glory, is released on Columbia Masterworks Digital.
Choir receives its first Emmy Award. 3 others would follow in 1989, 2013, and 2014.
The Choir’s album, Carols of Christmas, reaches platinum status. Another platinum record designation for Celebrate Christmas! would follow in 1993.
The Orchestra at Temple Square is announced as a companion ensemble to the Choir, greatly enhancing all future Choir recordings.
March 13, 2003
Choir inaugurates its own recording label. By year-end 2020 the label will have released 97 recordings: 48 CDs; 28 DVDs/VHSs/Blu-rays, and 21 books and other releases.
America’s Choir: Favorite Songs, Hymns & Anthems becomes the first Choir label recording to hit #1 on a Billboard® Classical list. 13 others would follow.
Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir featuring Federica von Stade and Bryn Terfel re-inaugurates a PBS tradition of Christmas concerts by The Tabernacle Choir.
April 7, 2005
The Choir’s 1958 recording of Handel’s Messiah was inducted into the National Recording Registry of the United States Library of Congress.
October 31, 2012
The Choir launches its YouTube Channel. Lifetime views to date total over 245,000,000.
June 6, 2020
The Choir and Orchestra recording, When You Believe: A Night at the Movies, inaugurates the Choir’s “digital first” strategy with its release first on Spotify. Three weeks later on June 6, it becomes the 14th Choir-label CD to chart at #1 on Billboard.
September 10, 2020
The Choir celebrates 110 years of recording history including the announcement of its 2020 Christmas CD, DVD, and book releases entitled Christmas Day in the Morning and the video release of “Duel of the Fates” from Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir featuring Kelli O’Hara and Richard Thomas continues the annual PBS and BYUtv traditions of Christmas TV specials.