The Oldest Member of The Tabernacle Choir Ever?
Today, members of The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square retire at age 60 or after 20 years of service, whichever comes first. This policy was set in place in 1974 by former music director Jerold Ottley. Before 1974, there was no clear policy on retirement based on age from the Choir.
An article in the Deseret News on August 31, 1901, tells the story of George Triplit, who, at 85-years-old, may have been the oldest member of the Choir ever.
According to the article, Triplit was born in 1816 in Davenport, Devonshire, England. He had always been fond of music and would frequently play music at the various churches in his town. He became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1849 and arrived in Utah in 1868.
An excerpt from the Deseret News piece is below:
For thirty-three years, rain or shine, George Triplit has been in his place on the tenor bench of the Tabernacle choir. He is the oldest living member of that noted organization, and his seat is reserved for him by his fellow tenors as religiously as though he held the title deed to it; indeed, the singer who inadvertently dropped into “Father” Triplit’s chair on Sunday would be deemed almost to have committed an act of sacrilege. Although his high “B flat” today would probably be found to have taken on something of a tremulo quality, he sings the tenor parts of such lung testers as the “Hallelujuah” chorus and “Unfold Ye Portals” without a break and would scorn to consult the notes.
“Father” Triplit joined the choir in 1868, when Professor George Careless was its leader, and very few have been the practices or meetings he ever missed, until about eight years ago, when it was unanimously resolved that on account of his advancing years, Brother Triplit be released from attending rehearsals except when he chose to come.
According to FamilySearch documents, Triplit passed away on February 23, 1902—about six months after the Deseret News article was published.