The Tabernacle Choir Blog

Farewell to Our Remarkable Leader and Friend: Mac Christensen

When Gordon B. Hinckley, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, called businessman Mac Christensen to be president of The Tabernacle Choir in 2000, Mac looked at him askance and said, “President, I’m a monotone!” President Hinckley chuckled in his inimitable way and said, “We aren’t calling you to sing, Mac.”

President Christensen passed away October 11, 2019, at the age of 85. He served with intense dedication, rarely taking more than a few days off for nearly 12 years, from 2000 to 2012. As a Choir organization, we like to think he is now overseeing the singing of angels.

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Saying Goodbye to Bonnie Goodliffe Will Definitely Not Be Easy!

This month Bonnie Goodliffe retires from her position as a Temple Square Organist. “This has been an extraordinary experience,” remarked Bonnie. “Playing the organ in the Tabernacle is more than the glorious sound of the organ; it’s also the spirit of the building and the heritage of the pioneers that I always feel there.”

“Bonnie has been performing regularly on Temple Square for the past 40 years,” said Richard Elliott. “While we will greatly miss her musical and personal gifts (including her wonderful sense of humor), we take consolation in the fact that she will continue to play recitals on the Temple Square organs on a regular basis as an organist emeritus.”

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A Child Goes for a Swim in the Tabernacle During Conference

The Salt Lake Tabernacle is a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and is famous for its exceptional acoustics. It was completed in 1867 and was engineered by Henry Grow under the direction of Brigham Young, who was President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the time. People from around the world have visited the domed building and have witnessed the acoustic demonstration in which a person can hear a single pin drop from 250 feet away.

Besides the acoustics, there are many other fascinating things to know about the Salt Lake Tabernacle. Throughout the years we’ve written many blog articles on the Tabernacle and its many distinct features, including articles about the attic, the 11,623 pipe organ, recording challenges, the construction of the Tabernacle, and even a sparrow trapped in the building.

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Watch Sissel’s Moving Performance of “Slow Down”

When guest artist Sissel performed “Slow Down” during the annual Pioneer Day concert for The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, she brought close to 20,000 fans to a screeching halt. The song, which began approximately 48 minutes into the concert, started with no introduction but ended with a minute-long standing ovation. After the cheering subsided, an emotionally moved Sissel said, “Thank you very much! That song, ‘Slow Down,’ describes an experience many of us have—to be able to hear the still voice in our hearts, we have to slow down.”

“Slow Down” was written by Chuck Girard and released in 1975. As a singer, songwriter, and worship leader, Girard is a pioneer of Contemporary Christian Music, and a Co-founder of the group Love Song.

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J.F.K. Nephew Tim Shriver Visits the Tabernacle & Sings with the Choir

56 years ago, John F. Kennedy spoke in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The September 26, 1963 visit would be his fifth and final one to Utah. While in Salt Lake City, he gave a 27-minute speech mostly devoted to foreign policy, but he also commended Utah’s high school graduation rate. He also praised the “Mormon” pioneers saying, “Of all the tales of America's pioneers and settlers, none is more inspiring than that of the Mormon Trail." His visit to Utah occurred just 55 days before his tragic assassination.

In the summer of 2019, Kennedy’s nephew Timothy Shriver was in Salt Lake City as the keynote speaker for the Utah Charter Network Symposium. Shriver leads the International Board of Directors of the Special Olympics. He is the Co-Chair of the National Commission on Social and Emotional Learning, and Chair of the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning.

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Orchestra at Temple Square’s 20th Anniversary Concert

The Orchestra at Temple Square will celebrate its 20th Anniversary Concert on October 25-26 (Friday, Saturday) in the Salt Lake Tabernacle at 7:30 p.m. The program will include a new work celebrating the Orchestra’s anniversary by composer Nathan Hofheins and Beethoven’s acclaimed Piano Concerto no. 5 in E Flat Major (“Emperor”), op.73, featuring pianist Stephen Beus, 2006 Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition winner and graduate of The Julliard School. Dr. Beus is currently an assistant professor on the piano faculty at Brigham Young University. The concert will conclude with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony no. 4 in F Minor, op. 36.

Igor Gruppman will conduct the Orchestra at Temple Square for this anniversary concert.  Gruppman was the Orchestra's concertmaster at the inaugural concert in 1999 and was named conductor of the Orchestra in 2003. He enjoys a career as a violin soloist, conductor, concertmaster and chamber musician and has appeared in the great European capitals and in the major cities of North America, Israel, and New Zealand. In addition to his duties with the Orchestra at Temple Square, he is currently concertmaster of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.

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Dancers: Be Part of Our Christmas Concert Tradition!

The Tabernacle Choir organization is seeking experienced, enthusiastic dancers for the annual Christmas concerts to be held on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, December 12, 13, and 14, 2019. The annual Christmas concerts include a 600-person-strong cast of 360 Choir voices, 150 Orchestra at Temple Square instrumentalists, 32 bell ringers from Bells on Temple Square, and actors and dancers, who join with the invited guest artists to produce this annual holiday spectacle.

We are seeking experienced, enthusiastic dancers of all ages, ethnicities, shapes, and sizes with strong performance skills in the areas of musical theater dance and ballet—especially male adult and children performers.

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