2018 Year in Review for the Choir Family
What distinguished 2018 from any other year? A name change? A brilliant tour of the West Coast? Special concerts, new recordings? A Christmas spectacular? No question it was a year we will long remember, a year like no other. Here are 10 of our many accomplishments. This was a remarkable year!
The world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir changed its name on October 5, 2018, to The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square in a move to better align with its sponsoring organization, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The new name for the Choir preserves the heritage of the Choir's home in the Tabernacle and its location on Temple Square and fits with its partners, the Orchestra at Temple Square and the Bells on Temple Square. Choir members, 360 volunteers united by their shared love of music and their faith in God, serve as musical ambassadors for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
On January 12, 2018, the Choir sang at the funeral celebrating the life of prophet, leader, and friend Thomas S. Monson. As President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints he personally oversaw Choir activity for 10 years; he had served as an Apostle since 1963.
Clay Christiansen, Tabernacle organist for nearly 36 years, retired from his full-time position, and Brian Mathias, adjunct faculty member at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah and at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, became the newest musician to join the cadre of world-class organists dating back to 1867.
Once again, the Choir and Orchestra filled the Tabernacle on Temple Square with one of the world’s most beloved musical works, George Frideric Handel’s musical masterpiece Messiah—first premiered by Handel in the spring of 1742. The Choir and Orchestra presented the stunning Easter concert April 10–11 to a packed Tabernacle audience and overflow crowds in three additional venues. The program was also viewed on the Choir’s website and its YouTube channel, a practice pioneered in 2014 and repeated in 2016. The 2018 performance continued a biennial tradition begun in 2014 and which will be repeated again in 2020.
The Choir has recorded a special edition of Messiah by Mack Wilberg from historical research and musical tradition. Two versions of the recording are available: the Complete Oratorio (with a companion DVD) and Highlights.
Tree of Life: Sacred Music of Mack Wilberg was released by the Choir in May with a stirring mix of two larger-scale New Testament-themed choral works composed by Wilberg—with six additional compositions and three hymn arrangements—all previously unrecorded. Listeners around the world have admired Wilberg as one of the leading choral conductors of our time—as well as a talented arranger and orchestrator. But many may not be aware of Mack Wilberg’s reputation as a composer of original choral music, a field in which he also occupies a leading position today.
The Choir and Orchestra’s 16-day Classic Coast Tour, Monday, June 18, to Tuesday, July 3, 2018, included seven concerts in Costa Mesa, Los Angeles, Berkeley, Rohnert Park, and Mountain View, California; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Seattle, Washington. Music repertoire showcased the Choir and Orchestra with choral masterworks, hymns, Broadway songs, inspirational and patriotic music from around the world, folk hymns, and spirituals.
In July, the “Music for a Summer Evening” concert with the Choir and Orchestra included a program of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway music with soloists Matthew Morrison and Laura Michelle Kelly and narration by Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein III, the grandson of Oscar Hammerstein II. The appreciative audiences enjoyed selections from The King and I, The Sound of Music, Carousel, Oklahoma, and South Pacific.
The 2017 holiday concert was released on DVD and CD entitled A Merry Little Christmas for celebrations in every home. Also released was an illustrated book, It Is Well with My Soul, based on the narration of the story of the Spafford family given by Hugh Bonneville during that concert. On stage with the Choir, Orchestra, and Bells were Broadway star Sutton Foster and world-renowned English actor Hugh Bonneville, dancers drawn from the local community, and festive flourishes from the Gabriel Trumpet Ensemble. The program also was the highlight of PBS and BYUtv holiday programming.
9. Christmas with Kristin Chenoweth
Acclaimed Tony® and Emmy® Award-winning actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth headlined the annual Choir Christmas concerts December 13–15 in the Conference Center. Performing for a packed house, 21,000 each night, the Choir, Orchestra, Bells on Temple Square, the Gabriel Trumpet Ensemble, a cast of local dancers, and Chenoweth charmed the audience with favorite carols, hymns, and the always dazzling finale, “Angels from the Realms of Glory.” The program was recorded for viewing on BYUtv and PBS stations during Christmas 2019 and will be available for purchase on CDs and DVDs.
The Choir’s total views on YouTube reached 170 million video views, and that number continues to climb. The Choir has 43 videos with over 1 million views on its channel featuring music videos, live broadcast videos, behind the scenes videos, concert footage, instrumental videos, and much more.