What Exactly Is Choir School?
As each new year begins, future members of The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square continue a journey that actually began six months before in the warmth of summer when they submitted an application to join the Choir.
Three Phases Down; One to Go
These applicants have already successfully completed the first three phases of the four-phase audition process. They have submitted an online application and voice recording, they have taken a musical skills assessment, and they have participated in an interview with the Choir president and an in-person audition with the Choir’s music director and associate music director. Now they move on to the fourth and final phase of the application process: Choir School and Temple Square Chorale.
Phase 4: Choir School and Temple Square Chorale
The first step in the process begins in January, when the potential new Choir members attend an orientation to start their 16 weeks of training. It’s like a graduate course in choral singing but is sometimes thought of as a choral “boot camp.” And potential Choir members have made the commitment to attend 100 percent of classes, rehearsals, and performances scheduled during this 16-week period.
Choir School: Instruction in the Basics
Each Thursday night, the Choir School instructors train participants in sight-reading, music theory, rehearsal techniques, vocal blending, listening skills, Choir policies, and more. The Choir School prepares candidates for a rigorous schedule of Music and the Spoken Word broadcasts, special concerts, general conference sessions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and other Church and community events.
For example, in 2017, the Choir performed for the U.S. presidential inauguration, the Utah governor’s inauguration, the Easter concert (two performances), the Pioneer Day concert (two performances), the Christmas concert (three performances and a taping session), two weeks of recording sessions for a new CD, six sessions of general conference, and 53 Music and the Spoken Word broadcasts, plus local events including the Days of ’47 Rodeo arena dedication, American Guild of Organists concert, the Huntsman Cancer Institute new building dedication, and RootsTech.
In addition to their choral training, new Choir School members receive orientations and administrative instruction. In this video, the 2017 Choir School women get their first tour of the Tabernacle.
Temple Square Chorale: Putting into Practice
In addition to the Thursday Choir School classes, Choir associate music director Ryan Murphy leads the singers as conductor of the Temple Square Chorale, which meets each Tuesday rehearsing and then performing a choral masterwork (such as Fauré’s Requiem or Mendelssohn’s Elijah). The Chorale consists of not only potential Choir members but also those members who joined the Choir the previous year fulfilling their requirement to sing a second year in the Chorale and other current Choir members. The Chorale was formed in 1999 as an extension of the Tabernacle Choir organization.
The Choir School staff includes director Cherilyn Worthen, vocal coach Rebecca Wilberg, and Temple Square organists Bonnie Goodliffe and Linda Margetts—each with advanced degrees in music and extensive experience to share with Choir School members.
Final Concert and Exam
In the spring the Temple Square Chorale performs a concert with the Orchestra at Temple Square under the direction of Ryan Murphy and Choir School members take a final exam. Following successful completion of the concert and passing the final exam, Choir School participants will become members of The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.