The Tabernacle Choir Blog

“Call of the Champions” Kicks Off the Most Viewed Opening Ceremonies

“Citius, Altius, Fortius!” That was the soaring sound that was heard during the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Those three Latin words, meaning “Faster, Higher, Stronger,” echoed throughout millions of homes as people around the world tuned in to watch those games. “Call of the Champions” was a spectacular collaboration that inspired hearts and lifted spirits of a nation still reeling from the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir performed the national anthem at the opening ceremonies, which included a tribute using the flag that was flown at Ground Zero.

In his fourth time composing music for the Olympic games, famed composer John Williams was excited to know that he would have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to distinguish the piece from previous compositions, saying, "I was like a giddy child working with them, I loved it." This resulted in a thrilling five-minute work involving chorus and orchestra. Conducted by Williams, the Utah Symphony and the Choir performed the song at the opening ceremonies. It is featured on the albums American Journey  by John Williams and the Choir’s album Spirit of America.

The Olympic games in Salt Lake City were the most watched Olympics ever at the time and are now third on the all-time list. The opening ceremonies of the 2002 winter games still holds the number-one spot for total viewership. During those winter games, the Choir participated in the Cultural Olympiad with four signature concerts, one of which featured John Williams. In the classic video above, Williams conducts the Choir, Orchestra at Temple Square, and the International Children’s Choir in a breathtaking rendition of "Call of the Champions."