Perfect Harmony: Choral Music in Modern Society
Choral music has been around for over a thousand years, and although it has evolved throughout the centuries, it seems to be here to stay.
But that begs the question—how does choral music fit into today’s society? Choral music appears to be going through a cultural renaissance. According to an article on NewMusicUSA.org, “More and more ensembles are bringing together musical innovation in the choral world, and ensembles are performing music that points composers in a new direction.”
Currently, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is touring the West Coast of the United States, performing to thousands of people in multiple cities in California, as well as Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Prior to the tour, the Choir’s president, Ron Jarrett, expressed, “There is nothing quite like hearing the Choir and Orchestra live in concert and experiencing their signature all-encompassing sound.”
Demand for Quality Choral Music
Audiences come from near and far to witness the Choir’s unique sound, whether in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, the Conference Center, or on tour. While the Choir was on tour in Europe in 2016, longtime fan Trevor Clarke traveled approximately 10,000 miles from Sydney, Australia, to attend four concerts in Germany. “To be in those great venues with the German people and hear them go absolutely wild with enthusiasm for what they’re hearing, [it’s] great—the Choir and the Orchestra deserve every bit of it,” praised Clarke. Clarke discovered the Choir on the radio at age 18, and has rarely missed a broadcast since. He has visited Salt Lake City to see the Choir numerous times and said, “I’m not a Mormon. I’m not anything. I just love my music, and to me, this is just the greatest choir in the world.”
Interview with Australian Choir fan Trevor Clarke
Increased Communication and Family Unity
When the Choir visited Bethel Woods, New York, in 2015, super fan Zak Breese had his dreams come true when he got to meet the Choir and see them perform. Born with special needs, Zak was adopted from Korea as a 6-month-old and discovered the Choir on the computer when he was just 2 years old. “He climbed into the chair in his diaper and he was going around the internet and found sacred music—and then, traveling through sacred music found the Mormon Tabernacle Choir,” explained Zak’s mother, Judy Breese. Since that moment, the Choir and its music has been “dear to his heart,” added Judy. When Zak discovered that he was sitting amongst the Choir during soundcheck he said, “What?! My eyes are shocked!!” Even through the rain-soaked concert that night, Zak was seen smiling and giving a thumbs-up as if he didn’t notice the weather a bit.
Judy Breese highlighted the effect that choral music—especially the music of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir—has had on her family: “[There are] dimensions of Zak that we would not have been able to access without the music that he loves because the music that comes from the Choir touches him in a place that nothing else does. So it gives us access to Zak that we would not ordinarily have.”
Interview with Zak Breese and family at Bethel Woods, New York
Choral Music’s Effect on Individuals and Communities
Choral music’s influence can also go far beyond the individual—affecting large groups, communities, and perhaps all of humanity. In an interview, English composer John Rutter explained, “Choral music is not one of life’s frills. It’s something that goes to the very heart of our humanity, our sense of community, and our souls. You express, when you sing, your soul in song. And when you get together with a group of other singers, it becomes more than the sum of the parts. All of those people are pouring out their hearts and souls in perfect harmony, which is kind of an emblem for what we need in this world, when so much of the world is at odds with itself … that just to express, in symbolic terms, what it’s like when human beings are in harmony. That’s a lesson for our times and for all time. I profoundly believe that.”
Rutter pointed out that a choir that meets together has social and communal value, even if it isn’t a world-class-sounding choir. He also reasoned that people’s troubles and worldly cares are eased when they are making music, and when they walk away “refreshed,” the value goes “beyond the music itself.” He added that music is “like a great oak that rises up from the center of the human race and spreads its branches everywhere. That’s what music does for us. And choral music must stand as one of the supreme examples of it.”
Interview with composer John Rutter
Through choral music, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir transcends cultural and generational boundaries and unites people throughout the world. Whether you are a lifelong fan of the Choir, a casual listener, or not a fan at all, we invite you to listen to some of these songs and feel the power of choral music. Listen »