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Renowned tenor visits Tabernacle

Andrea Bocelli performs with Tabernacle Choir, orchestra

Mr. Bocelli's performance of "The Lord's Prayer" with the choir will be featured in a PBS Christmas special that will air in December, said Scott Barrick, choir general manager.

Andrea Bocelli records a song with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square.
Andrea Bocelli records a song with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square. Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

David Foster, a Canadian composer, arranger and keyboardist, is producing the television show and an associated Christmas CD for Mr. Bocelli. Mr. Foster played the Tabernacle Organ for Saturday's recording session.

Christmas trees and poinsettias add a holiday spirit to the Tabernacle Choir's performance with Andrea Bocelli.
Christmas trees and poinsettias add a holiday spirit to the Tabernacle Choir's performance with Andrea Bocelli. Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Mr. Foster approached the choir management earlier this year to ask if the choir could provide background vocals for Mr. Bocelli's performance of the song on the audio recording. A choir-only audio track was recorded and sent to the producer.

"They were absolutely blown away," Brother Barrick said, "with the sound and the quality they got back." The request then came to record video of Mr. Bocelli and Mr. Foster performing with the choir for the PBS special; hence the recording session in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli is one of the world's most popular opera singers. The artist made his first appearance in the Tabernacle for the recording.
Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli is one of the world's most popular opera singers. The artist made his first appearance in the Tabernacle for the recording. Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The choir accommodated Mr. Bocelli's stopover in Salt Lake City, as he had three concerts earlier in the week at Carnegie Hall in New York and then was scheduled to fly to Los Angeles, to make preparations to complete the recording of his Christmas concert the following week in the Kodak Theater. The concert will be released on DVD next year, Brother Barrick said. The PBS special is being produced by WNET, a New York public-broadcasting station.

Andrea Bocelli records a song with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square that will  be included on Bocelli's upcoming Christmas album. The popular singer also performed "Ave Maria" for the choir and orchestra.
Andrea Bocelli records a song with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square that will be included on Bocelli's upcoming Christmas album. The popular singer also performed "Ave Maria" for the choir and orchestra. Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The CD, containing Mr. Bocelli's performance of the song with the Tabernacle Choir, will be released in November.

Mr. Foster's presence in the Tabernacle benefited the choir and orchestra in another way. A CD to be released in January by the choir and orchestra will include a recording of Mr. Foster's composition, "The Prayer." Many listeners will recognize the song from a recording made by Mr. Bocelli and recording star Celine Dion. They performed it as a duet featured in a childern's animated special called "A Quest for Camelot."

At Mr. Foster's suggestion, after the recording session with Mr. Bocelli, a video recording was made of the choir and orchestra performing "The Prayer" with Mr. Foster playing the piano at the front of the stage, a recording that will be used for the choir's promotional purposes.

"It was an amazing gift offer," Brother Barrick said. "This is an exquisite arrangement by Mack Wilberg (the choir's musical director) of this beautiful, beautiful piece that David Foster has done."

Mr. Bocelli, in greeting the choir, said of their recorded vocal tracks for "The Lord's Prayer," "When I heard this song with your voices, I had the impression the music came from the sky."

During a break between recording takes, the famous tenor gave a treat to the choir and orchestra members by accompanying himself on the Tabernacle Organ while singing "Ave Maria." The impromptu performance elicited a standing ovation from the musicians, technicians and staff in the Tabernacle.

For the Bocelli session, the Tabernacle stage was quickly decorated with poinsettias and lighted evergreen trees to give it a holiday feel. For the session with Mr. Foster, the poinsettias were hastily removed, the tree lights turn off and spring-like greenery added.

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