The Mormon Tabernacle Choir performed during the 58th Presidential Inauguration in the nation’s capital Friday. The choir was accompanied by “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band as they sang during the swearing-in ceremony of President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Michael R. Pence.
“We are incredibly happy to have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir back again at the inauguration. It is a part of America’s history, and the music is incredibly beautiful,” said Jason Goodman of the Presidential Inauguration Committee.
Music director Mack Wilberg conducted the choir in the outdoor performance of his arrangement of “America the Beautiful” just before noon on the West Terrace of the Capitol.
“The lyrics were written by Katharine Bates in 1893, during a visit to Pike’s Peak in Colorado,” said Wilberg. “It’s one of our great songs because it talks about our great heritage and our continued potential as a great nation.”
Choir members were dressed in crème-colored coats with matching turtleneck sweaters and red plaid scarves as they sang outdoors under cloudy skies. In all, 215 singers of the 360-member choir, goodwill ambassadors of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, traveled from Salt Lake City to the nation’s capital for the historic event after accepting an invitation from the U.S. Presidential Inauguration Committee.
Not all choir members could attend the inauguration due to space limitations on the platform at the Capitol. Attendees were randomly chosen from the choir members who volunteered to perform.
“The opportunity for us to be in Washington, D.C., is an opportunity to serve this great country of the United States, an opportunity for us to share the healing and powerful message of music with the entire world,” said Ron Jarrett, president of choir.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson and Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles also attended the inauguration. Their participation continues a long-standing tradition of Church leaders who have supported and celebrated freedom, civility and the process that makes possible the peaceful transfer of power provided for in the U.S. Constitution.
The swearing-in ceremony of the 45th president is the choir’s seventh inaugural performance.
“Singing in inaugurations is a family tradition,” said choir member Richard Bigler. “My parents sang in the choir for over 20 years, my brothers also. They sang for the inaugurations of George H. W. Bush and also Ronald Reagan, and I’m excited to be a part of this family tradition.”
“I worked for both the Clinton and Bush administrations, and this is my fourth inauguration to attend,” said choir member Caroline Marriott. “I am honored to be a part of this organization as a goodwill ambassador.”
In 2001, the choir performed in the inauguration parade for President George W. Bush. The choir sang at the U.S. Capitol before the swearing-in ceremony and in the parade for President George H. W. Bush in 1989. In 1981, the choir was in the inaugural parade for President Ronald W. Reagan. Thirty members of the choir sang in President Richard M. Nixon’s inaugural devotional in the East Room of the White House in 1973. In 1969, they performed in the swearing-in ceremony for President Nixon and at the inaugural concert. The choir participated in the swearing-in ceremony for President Lyndon B. Johnson at the Capitol in 1965.
During the inaugural parade for President Reagan in 1981, he dubbed the choir “America’s Choir” when it sang its signature song “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” President George H. W. Bush called the choir “a national treasure” during his swearing-in ceremony in in 1989.
The Marine Band, led by Lieutenant Colonel Jason K. Fettig, was founded in 1798 by an act of Congress. It is considered America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization. The band performed “The Armed Forces Medley” and “Let Freedom Ring” with the choir in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on a September 21, 2014, broadcast of “Music and the Spoken Word.”