Pandemic prompts cancellation of Pioneer Day concert; auditions continue

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square announced Friday, April 23, it is canceling its popular Pioneer Day concert amid continued concerns over large gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Still, Choir leadership is confident that promising days await the choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square.

“While we are all disappointed not to be singing for the Pioneer Day concert, I am happy to announce that we will begin the 2021 audition process for new choir members,” said choir president Ron Jarrett in a news release.  “This means we are looking forward to not only singing together in the future but welcoming new members into our ranks.”

The Choir’s 2021 audition application will be available online beginning Tuesday, June 1, at TabChoir.org/auditions. All applications should be submitted online by Sunday, Aug. 15.

The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple square perform during the Pioneer Day concert at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, July 19, 2019.
The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple square perform during the Pioneer Day concert at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, July 19, 2019. Credit: Colter Peterson, Deseret News

To apply, each applicant must be a Church member, be in good standing, be between 25 and 55 years of age on April 30, 2022, when choir service would begin and currently reside within 100 miles of the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City.

“The audition process is an exciting part of the continuing progress of the choir,” says music director Mack Wilberg. “We always look forward to meeting those who want to represent the Church by using their musical talent and serve with us in this unique way.”

As noted in the release, the process to become a member of the choir stretches over nine months. An individual must meet the membership criteria and complete a four-phase audition process. The process includes submission of an electronic application, a skills assessment test, in-person audition and 100% attendance at Choir School for four months. 

In August 2020, the remaining three of the four phases of the 2020 audition cycle were postponed until 2021. Applicants who had successfully completed Phase 1 of that cycle received an email from the choir informing them of the delay. They will join successful 2021 Phase 1 applicants to complete the additional three phases later this year. 

In normal circumstances, members of The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square have the experience of expressing their faith and talents through music, which has the power to help people feel closer to the divine, according to the release. 

Their usual duties include weekly performances on the “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast, plus concerts, tours and recordings. Choir members invest an average of six hours per week for rehearsals for 75 scheduled performances per year.

Live “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcasts and public rehearsals continue to be postponed. However, the “Music & the Spoken Word” program airs and streams each week, thanks to the Choir’s large library of uplifting, encouraging and heartfelt music. 

Each episode is available on YouTube and Facebook for on-demand viewing immediately after the weekly streams. Newly recorded “Music & Spoken Word” messages are included in the previously aired broadcasts each week.

The pandemic’s impact on the popular choir has stretched beyond traditional concerts and its auditions process. Last month, the choir’s 2021 Heritage Tour was postponed until 2022 — the second time the European tour was delayed.

The tour had been scheduled for June 17 through July 8 of this year. The 2022 performances will be in the same cities planned for the original tour — Stockholm, Sweden; Helsinki, Finland; Copenhagen, Denmark; Oslo, Norway; Cardiff and Newport, Wales; and Edinburgh, Scotland.

Further information about 2022 revised dates and ticket information will be published in the future, with patrons asked to not contact the concert venues until additional details become available.

The choir and the orchestra last toured two years ago when they made stops at several cities along the United States’ Pacific Coast and in Vancouver, Canada, during their 2018 Classic Coast Tour.