Three-hundred-sixty volunteer voices, like Angels, singing in precise harmonies, winning Emmy’s, winning Grammy’s and making the Mormon Tabernacle Choir one of the most well-known, inspirational Christian choirs in the world. That’s what people tune in to hear each week on their television and radio show “Music and The Spoken Word” which is broadcast on over 1,500 stations worldwide.
But, what most people do not get to see is the hard work, the exactitude, the training that goes into each note and every harmony. Like athletes in training, their weekly practices include repetition, drills and detailed direction from their coach (the choir director).
Last week, we had the opportunity to see one of these practices live and we were astonished. To the untrained ear, each bar of each song sounded faultless, but for music director Mack Wilberg, there was infinite room from improvement. Whether it was too much unseemly singing “through the teeth”, or not enough “arc” on the tenors’ “amens” he gave tips, encouraged and led them toward the promised land, which is musical perfection.
The choir is completely self-funded, traveling and producing albums to support the program’s continuation. Unpaid volunteers make a long-term commitment to the choir without hope for pay or any kind of reimbursement for travel or performance. They do it out of a love of the music that is central to their faith. I’m told some of them travel quite far to their weekly practices and performances.
If you find yourself in Utah, on a Thursday, and you’re a fan of MoTab (as the cool kids call them) or just a fan of music, you must plan an evening to visit a free practice… the public is always welcome!