"9/11 | Coming Together" 20th Anniversary Special

The Tabernacle Choir Blog

President Bush Awarded the Choir with the National Medal of Arts

As its website states, “The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA is an independent federal agency that funds and promotes artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities.” Created by the United States Congress in the late 1960s, the agency awards grants, encourages partnerships, and recognizes outstanding achievements in art. The organization, which “is the largest annual national funder of the arts in the United States,” is led by a chairman who must be appointed by the President and then confirmed by Congress.

The NEA oversees the National Medal of Arts. The award is “the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the United States government. The National Medal of Arts is awarded by the President of the United States to individuals or groups who … are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the United States.” Notable artists who have received the award include Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep, George Lucas, and Angela Lansbury.

In 2003, President George W. Bush invited the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to come to Washington, D.C., and receive the prestigious National Medal of Arts. Former Choir president Mac Christensen accepted the award on behalf of the Choir. He was accompanied by Lloyd Newell, John Longhurst, Craig Jessop, Mack Wilberg, and Stan Parrish. Craig Jessop related, “President Bush said to us that this was a long-overdue recognition, not only for the Choir’s great musical contribution to our nation but for its spiritual contribution as well.”

The award is currently on display in the Tabernacle at Temple Square, along with many other awards and recognitions accumulated by the Choir over the years.