Has The Tabernacle Choir Sung in Every General Conference?
Music presented at the semi-annual general conference meetings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has usually included The Tabernacle Choir—but there have been some exceptions through the years!
Did you realize that General Conference was canceled, just once, in 1957 due to a flu epidemic? Or that in the late 1880s General Conference was held in other Utah cities with local choirs singing? Or that during World War II the Choir only sang in some Sunday morning meetings?
The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square traces its beginnings to the small choir gathered to sing for a church meeting held just three weeks after the Latter-day Saint pioneers arrived in Utah’s Salt Lake Valley in 1847. Now with 360 volunteer members, the Choir continues its legacy of providing music for General Conference meetings that inspires and uplifts listeners as a musical expression of the Choir members’ faith. That expression may just be a little different for the present.
In October 2020, general conference sessions—like those in April 2020—will be digital-only. Having two back-to-back digital conferences is a first for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Choir’s sponsor. Through the amazing benefit of modern technology, pre-recorded music by the Choir from previous conferences will be used instead of the Choir singing live at the meetings. Listeners may recall that the April conference concluded with a digitally pre-recorded presentation with choirs around the world joining with The Tabernacle Choir. It was a touching and fitting conclusion to that event.
Here are some interesting historical facts about both The Tabernacle Choir and General Conference meetings that you may not know:
General Conference meetings were held in other Utah cities: Logan, Provo, and Coalville. Music for these conferences was provided either by the congregation or local choirs.
April General Conference was postponed until June because of a nationwide flu epidemic.
First-ever radio broadcast of general conference on KSL Radio on October 3, 1924.
During World War II, because of travel restrictions, the live audience was limited to Church leaders only.
For the April 1942 conference, the Choir was in the Tabernacle to sing for the Music & the Spoken Word broadcast but then left the building before the conference meetings began.
- For the rest of World War II, conference music was provided by the congregation for most of the sessions. Exceptions were the Saturday night (Priesthood) meetings when the men of the Choir sang and the Sunday morning session after Music & the Spoken Word when the Choir would remain for that meeting only.
First locally televised General Conference meetings on KSL. In 1953 General Conference meetings were first televised beyond the Intermountain region.
The Tabernacle Choir did not sing in the October conference because they were returning from their first tour to Europe.
General Conference meetings in October were canceled—for the first and only time—due to a nationwide flu epidemic.
First satellite broadcasts of General Conference.
First internet availability for broadcasts of General Conference meetings.
The first General Conference meetings were held in the new Conference Center in Salt Lake City.
The first digital-only conferences were held due to the worldwide pandemic. They were streamed and broadcast without a live audience through television, radio, and the internet throughout the world. Pre-recorded music was provided by The Tabernacle Choir.