We’ve just returned from a magnificent performance of Händel’s Messiah by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, accompanied by the Orchestra at Temple Square. Mack Wilberg, the Choir’s conductor, substantially reconceived Händel’s masterwork for a larger choir and with re-arranged accompaniment.
I don’t believe that I’ve ever heard the Choir sing as powerfully as I did tonight. And the four soloists — Erin Morley (Soprano), Sasha Cooke (Mezzo-Soprano), Paul Appleby (Tenor), and Joseph Barron (Bass) — were superb. I’m in awe of Messiah, and listening to it was a perfect way to spend the evening of Good Friday.
One fun detail: We sat just a few feet from Elder Gary Stevenson, one of the newly ordained members of the Twelve, and I noticed that, when the Choir sang the “Hallelujah Chorus,” he was mouthing the words along with the singers on the stage — as we were all tempted to do.
All of which puts me in mind of this press release:
World’s Largest Virtual Hallelujah Chorus
Released by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Singers, YouTube celebrities and fans join in celebrating Easter through song
SALT LAKE CITY (Mar. 13, 2016) — Sunday, March 13, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir released the world’s largest virtual Hallelujah Chorus at virtualchoir.mormon.org. Over the course of two weeks, the Choir received 2,500 video submissions from students, celebrities, politicians and vocalists all over the world.
YouTube a capella star Peter Hollens and his wife Evynne provided the vocal sing-along tracks for this project.
“I was totally blown away by how many people lent their voices to this magnificent production,” Hollens said. “I am so honored to take part in this with the Choir, my wife and the rest of the world! This production has convinced me to do more of these with my supporters and community in the future. I think bringing the world together through music is the most powerful way make the world a better place.”
Some of the other the notable celebrities who participated include Donny Osmond, Nathan Pacheco, and YouTube personalities Alex Boyé, Tiffany Alvord, Madilyn Paige, Maddie Wilson and Firefly. Vocal groups like BYU’s Vocal Point and Noteworthy and Resonance Vocal Ensemble in San Luis Obispo, California also participated, among many others. Governor Gary Herbert, Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox and Congresswoman Mia Love also lent their voices for this special collaboration.
“Our goal for this virtual choir was to bring together voices from all over the world and demonstrate the power music has to cross cultural and generational boundaries,” said Scott Barrick, general manager for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. “The ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ is iconic, and we are elated that so many people wanted to join us for this amazing experience to celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
The Grammy Award-winning, all-volunteer Mormon Tabernacle Choir is made up of 360 men and women who join their talents to create their trademark, instantly recognizable sound. They are accompanied by the Orchestra at Temple Square, a 150-member symphony that is also all-volunteer. Their world-famous sound is under the direction of music director Mack Wilberg and associate music director Ryan Murphy. On March 4, 2016, the Choir and Orchestra released a new recording of Handel’s Messiah in two versions: the Complete Oratorio and a 60-minute highlights version. They will stream Messiah live on Good Friday, March 25 at 7:30 p.m. MDT from the Salt Lake Tabernacle. See motab.org/messiah for details.