History of the Choir
In 1846, the Mormons were searching for a place where they could freely worship God. On their westward trek across the vast American continent, the pioneers often broke the prairie's stillness with the sound of their voices. Singing hymns around the campfire became a nightly custom.
On July 24, 1847, when the first group of Mormon pioneers had crossed the rugged Wasatch Mountains into the wide valley of the Great Salt Lake, their leader, Brigham Young, looked long and earnestly at what he saw. Then he said, "It is enough. This is the right place." It was here, a month later, that the Tabernacle Choir had it beginnings.
A Mormon Tabernacle Choir (= MTC) was officially formed in August 1847, one month after the pioneers entered the valley. The choir has since grown to be one of the world's most respected musical organizations. The MTC has garnered numerous awards including a Grammy for its rendition of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," five gold records and one platinum record.
The MTC has appeared at five presidential inaugurations, in several films and performed with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London, Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and Utah Symphony Orchestra.
The MTC made its first phonograph record in 1910. Since then, the choir has produced more than 150 recordings. The choir's first network radio program (with organ, choir, and announcer sharing a single microphone) was transmitted on July 15, 1929. Today, after more than 65 years and 3,425 broadcasts, "Music and the Spoken Word" is the oldest continuous nationwide network broadcast in America. The "Spoken Word" has also been televised since the early 1960s. The show is now released worldwide every week through some 1,500 radio, television, and cable stations.
The MTC is comprised of 325 men and women. For many, choir membership is a family tradition. There are husband-wife combinations and many families boast two or more generations of choir membership. Choir members do not receive any monetary compensation for their performances.
Members of the MTC are selected on the basis of character and musical competence. A large cross section of occupations is represented. In the choir's ranks are representatives of nearly every trade and profession, including contractors, secretaries, physicians, homemakers, school teachers, nurses, salesmen, and accountants.
MTC members sing because they love to share truth and the beauty of music with people everywhere. Some of them commute as far as 164 miles round-trip two or more times weekly, not only for the regular network broadcasts, but for rehearsals, conferences, and other events. All contribute their talents and time without compensation, except for the joy they receive in service.