The Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s First Facebook Live
On May 16, 2017, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir held its first-ever Facebook Live event from the historic Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah. The live event was to discuss the new album Mormon Tabernacle Choir & Friends. The live format was an alternative to Mormon Tabernacle Choir Premieres, which is normally recorded in a studio setting.
Choir director Mack Wilberg and associate director Ryan Murphy were interviewed by Kim Farah in front of the world-famous Tabernacle organ. The conversation revolved around the recording process, guest artist experiences, and the making of Mormon Tabernacle Choir & Friends.
The discussion opened with the fact that the Salt Lake Tabernacle acts as the recording studio, with Wilberg explaining, “When we record, [we’re] about 450 people and there are very few places that can accommodate that many people, so we’re usually either here in the Tabernacle or, certainly at Christmastime and other times of the year, we are also in the Conference Center.” He added, “We always have to ask our Choir and Orchestra members to bring quilts, blankets, that we put on the benches of the Tabernacle in order to make the acoustical sound a little more friendly for recording purposes. … It’s really quite a beautiful sight when you see the Tabernacle benches filled with all of these beautiful blankets and quilts.”
Viewers watched from around the world, including Saudi Arabia, Spain, the Philippines, and Hawaii submitted questions, such as what it takes to become a Choir member, how guest artists are chosen, how the album came to be, and if any of the album’s songs have a special significance.
Associate director Ryan Murphy answered a question about why guest artists keep coming back to perform with the Choir by saying, “Not only is it a great musical experience, I hope, for them; I think it does go beyond that. I think like you said, it’s difficult to describe, but [there’s] some sort of spiritual quality about the whole process of working together, and I think that comes through in the recordings. There’s something a little deeper than just the music on the surface itself.”
After the event, interviewer Kim Farah said, “It was such a pleasure to interact with the Choir’s fans throughout the world in real time. Seeing special ‘shout-outs’ from Spain, Saudi Arabia, and the Philippines was a powerful example of how music can cross cultural and geographic boundaries to bring people joy.”
The Choir’s general manager, Scott Barrick, shared his enthusiasm for the event, saying, “The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has been on the forefront of a lot of technological advances over the years—in early recordings, the first uses of stereo, and early adoption of 5.1 surround sound on our programs. We are excited to be able to use the Facebook Live functionality to help share the message of our new Mormon Tabernacle Choir & Friends CD with an expanding audience. And we are particularly pleased that the public gets to know better our wonderful conductors, Mack Wilberg and Ryan Murphy, in the process.”