24 Singers Retire from Choir after 288 Years of Service
On April 22, 2018, the Choir held a retirement ceremony to say goodbye to 24 devoted members who together represented 288 years of volunteer service in the Choir. Singers in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir may serve for a total of 20 years or until their 60th birthday—whichever comes first.
At this retirement ceremony, held each April following a broadcast of Music & the Spoken Word, retiring Choir members are recognized and their families are recognized for their support and sacrifice. The meeting is conducted by the Choir’s president, Ron Jarrett, and short tributes to each retiree are given by Choir music director Mack Wilberg. This year, President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also honored retirees with brief remarks.
It is a bittersweet experience to retire from the Choir. The joy of being able to express their feelings and faith, ministering to others through music and song, is a rewarding experience that retiring members are not eager to leave. Being a member of the Choir is not a job for these singers—each of whom is a volunteer with employment and family responsibilities outside of their Choir experience. The sheer volume of music each Choir member must learn, perfect, and perform is quite amazing. In spite of the hours with the Choir, departing members continually express their gratitude for the opportunity to share their music and “touch the souls of those who listen.”
In the brief comments about their years in the Choir, written by the retirees and read by the Choir music director, they each remarked about their gratitude for the experiences they had shared. Former LDS Church President Spencer W. Kimball once remarked, “We are in a position, as musicians, to touch the souls of those who listen." From the following sample of retiring Choir members’ thoughts, it is evident that the music experience deeply touched them:
“I will be forever grateful for this rare opportunity to blend my voice and heart.”
“My life will be forever changed because of this experience. … Singing has been an absolute joy. My musical understanding has grown. I have felt the overwhelming spirit at concerts; have seen guest artists’ hearts melt as we sang ‘God Be with You’; and have heard individuals share how the music of the Choir lifted and touched them.”
“I marvel at the incredible opportunities to sing with the best directors, accompanied by the best organists, and sing some of the most fun and inspirational music with great people.”
“Mostly I will miss the special spirit that is always here. I will forever be grateful.”
“The miracle of the Choir is ministering through music via the Spirit.”
In a wonderful final time to sing, many of this group of departing members will have one last chance to participate in recording sessions with the Choir during May 15–19. Instead of public rehearsals during this week, the Salt Lake Tabernacle will become a recording studio for a new Choir album, which will be released in 2019. It will be an opportunity they will be thrilled to enjoy. Each night they will be able once again to enjoy making music with dear friends and associates.