The Tabernacle Choir Blog

Did You Know the Choir Used to Sit in Mixed Formation?

Today, The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square sits in the Choir loft in what is known as SATB formation, which stands for soprano, alto, tenor, bass. In the not so distant past, the Choir sat in mixed formation, which involves singers of different parts sitting next to each other, such as basses and altos in one row and tenors and sopranos in another.

Of course there are advantages and disadvantages to any formation. It has been said that in the traditional SATB formation that the blend is better, it’s easier to conduct, and the overall sound is smoother, while with a mixed formation the tuning is better, it is easier to identify problems, and singers are more aware of their errors.

In the early 1980’s Choir conductor Jerold Ottley started sitting the singers in mixed formation with the intention that singers would more easily hear the other vocal parts around them and help the overall tuning of the group. When Craig Jessop became the music director in 1999, he returned to the traditional SATB formation because it was what he was most familiar with conducting.

Mack Wilberg has carried on the use of SATB formation, and the Choir continues to bring people around the world together through its inspiring music.

Watch the Choir in mixed formation while on tour in Jerusalem in 1993:

Watch the Choir in the current SATB formation: