Guest performers will join The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square in a special worldwide broadcast this weekend to commemorate 90 years of “Music and the Spoken Word.”
Members of the choir organization met with media Friday to discuss the history of the choir’s weekly broadcast and what viewers can expect to see in the prerecorded program.
“It is remarkable that this broadcast has now been on the air for over 90 years,” said Mack Wilberg, music director of the choir. “In any tradition like this, one has to reflect on many who have come before starting in July of 1929. … As I approach the broadcast from week to week, the many who have come before us are always [at] the forefront of my mind.”
Wilberg believes the broadcast will be a source of “joy, hope and peace to people as they watch it.”
“There just isn’t anything like it in the broadcast world,” explained Heidi Swinton, choir historian.
“We wanted to look back at especially the past 20 years of the guest artists who had come with the choir, who had given us such a sense of place in the world of music, and we wanted to look back at some of the songs that have just hung out there as some of our real strengths,” added Swinton.
She said the choir’s audience has now picked up many younger fans due to its expansion of broadcast outlets and social media channels such as YouTube. “We have an audience now that is so broad that it reaches from youth all the way to those who have been with us for many years.”
The one-hour special broadcast, “Music for a Summer Evening: Celebrating 90 Years of Broadcasting,” airs on Saturday, July 18, 2020, at 7 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time (MDT).
The commemorative concert will be available worldwide on the following broadcast and internet channels: TheTabernacleChoir.org, The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square YouTube channel, The Tabernacle Choir Facebook page, Broadcasts.ChurchofJesusChrist.org and the Latter-day Saints Channel. The broadcast will also air on BYUtv, BYUtv.org and the BYUtv app on Sunday, July 19, at 5 p.m. MDT.
The show will feature interviews and performances w
ith renowned guest artists who have previously appeared with the choir.
Musical selections include Sissel’s rendition of “Slow Down” from her guest performance in 2019, Kristin Chenoweth’s 2018 performance of “Angels Among Us,” and “What a Wonderful World,” sung by Bryn Terfel in 2013.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will also share a couple of personal experiences with the choir.
The choir’s five Tabernacle and Temple Square organists will be featured with a virtual quintet of “The William Tell Overture.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, weekly live broadcasts of “Music and the Spoken Word” have been replaced by encore episodes of the program on radio, television, cable and the internet.
The special performance replaces the live event portion of choir and orchestra’s annual July concert, which is part of community-wide Pioneer Day celebrations commemorating the arrival of Latter-day Saint pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847.