The Tabernacle Choir Blog

40 Years of Making Beautiful Music

For 40 years, since 1983, two renowned musical icons—The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square and the Utah Symphony—have presented the O.C. Tanner Gift of Music in two evenings of celebrated concerts. This year the program will feature Felix Mendelssohn’s monumental oratorio Elijah on Friday and Saturday, February 17 and 18, 2023, at 7:30 p.m. in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

Tabernacle doors will open at 6:30 p.m. the evening of the concerts. Tickets are required but are free to the public and are limited to those eight years of age and older. Tickets will be available beginning at 10:00 a.m. Friday, January 20 at or by calling 801-570-0080 or toll-free 1-866-537-8457.

The idea for the concerts came from the combined vision of neighbors Obert C. Tanner, businessman and philanthropist, and Gordon B. Hinckley, then an Apostle and later President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The two wanted to encourage unity among the growing local community by providing a series of gala concerts featuring the Choir and Symphony and accomplished guest performers. The free concerts are funded by an endowment from Obert C. and Grace Tanner, who were dedicated to sharing worthwhile and beautiful things with people from all walks of life.1

The series, usually every two years, paused during the pandemic. This year sees a return to the stage of these two beloved music institutions directed by Utah Symphony music conductor Thierry Fischer, his last opportunity to conduct the Choir and Symphony as he concludes his tenure at this season. Joining the Choir and symphony for Elijah will be guest soloists Susanna Phillips, soprano; Sasha Cooke, alto; Matthew Polenzani, tenor; and Kyle Ketelsen, bass.

In 1987, the Choir and Symphony also performed Elijah in the O.C. Tanner Gift of Music series under the baton of Choir music director Jerold Ottley. Other music conductors over the years have included Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Michael Tilson Thomas, Julius Rudel, Joseph Silverstein, Robert Shaw, James DeMars, Craig Jessop, Keith Lockhart, Mack Wilberg, and Erich Kunzel.

The first O.C. Tanner Gift of Music program in 1983 featured Verdi’s Requiem. The repertoire for the concert varies between classical concerts like Elijah and more popular music such as the work of Brian Stokes Mitchell and James Taylor. Over the years, programs have included the following: Americana music (1985), operatic and concert selections with Kiri Te Kanawa(1989) and Frederica von Stade (1991), Berlioz’s Requiem (1994), DeMars’s An American Requiem (1996), “An Atlantic Bridge” with The King’s Singers (1998), Brahms’s Requiem (1999), Vaughan Williams’s Hodie (2000), Mahler’s Symphony no. 8 (2002 with Keith Lockhart and again in 2016 with Theirry Fischer), “A Celtic Celebration” with Ronan Tynan and Leahy (2005), “An American Songbook” with Denyce Graves and Brian Stokes Mitchell(2008), Mahler’s Symphony no. 2 (2009), the 30th Anniversary Gala featuring singer-songwriter James Taylor (2013), and the Golden Spike 150th Celebration with Brian Stokes Mitchell and Megan Hilty (2019).

  1. See O.C. Tanner Gift of Music program, 1987.