At an unprecedented moment when Church announcements and adjustments seem to be happening on an almost daily basis, The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square announced a momentous change of its own on Thursday.
Choir leaders unveiled a new logo designed to reflect the iconic organization’s forward-thinking direction while simultaneously remaining linked to its rich past.
The new logo — or “visual identity” — is already being used on the choir’s Twitter and other social media sites and captures the instantly recognized Tabernacle organ pipes with a modern aesthetic.
In another nod to its contemporary audience and mission, the new choir logo has a visual flow that brings the pipes to life with a rising and falling motion alluding to the rhythm of music.
The new logo is designed to communicate the joy and mission of the choir and its music. Longtime fans of the choir will immediately recognize the Tabernacle pipes in the updated logo, “but in a new and refreshed way,” said choir president Ron Jarrett.
The new logo is also symbolically rich with gospel messages.
The pipes’ strong vertical thrust points one to God. The curve near the bottom of the pipes is a reminder of the Tabernacle’s dome shape. There are seven pipes included in the logo, symbolizing “whole or complete” in the scriptures. Meanwhile, the pipes rest on a “clear and firm” foundation.
“I think it is important to note that the simplified logo is designed to allow people to add their own meaning to it,” said music director Mack Wilberg. “We want those who listen to our music to feel hope, comfort, joy and peace.”
Jarrett explained the new logo allows the choir “to be more relevant to our listeners and to adapt to the changes of the media and that environment.”
Tabernacle Choir member Stan Clark is thrilled with the new logo. “It’s beautiful, it’s modern, it’s elegant — and I really appreciate all the symbolism found in the logo,” he said.
The choir’s new digital efforts, Wilberg added, build upon the strengths of the choir to bring hope, joy and comfort to its listeners.
“Music has the power to touch people in ways that other things cannot. We’re hoping that by entering this digital space, we will be able to do so in ever greater ways.”
Strengthening the choir brand by following the prophet
Thursday’s announcement comes about 18 months after the world-renowned choir changed its name from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.
The logo unveiled Thursday is another element of the choir’s ongoing strategic plan that began following its Oct. 5, 2018, name change to “better align” with its sponsoring organization — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Earlier that year, President Russell M. Nelson issued a statement emphasizing the importance of being “in harmony” with the Lord’s will to use the correct name of His Church.
“We are at the forefront of the Church as far as brand recognition, so I knew that we would have the opportunity to change our name,” said Jarrett on the day of the choir name change. “It is an opportunity to follow the prophet. It is an opportunity to move the choir forward. It is an opportunity to be where we should be.”
The new logo will be included on the choir’s upcoming CD, which will be released in May.
Located prominently on Temple Square, the Salt Lake Tabernacle has been home to the choir since 1867. The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square name offers a historical nod to the symbiotic connection between the musical organization and the iconic structure.
“It’s a natural fit,” said Jarrett. “’Tabernacle,’ because this is our home. ‘Temple Square,’ because that is where we perform. It’s where we are based and where we serve the Church.”
The name change also offered consistency between the choir and its sister organizations, The Orchestra at Temple Square and The Bells at Temple Square.
Unprecedented chapters in choir history
The ongoing pandemic has disrupted choir operations and performances in ways that choir leaders such Jarrett and Wilberg could likely have never imagined.
Social distancing practices have forced the choir and orchestra to halt rehearsals and performances. The weekly “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast in recent weeks has featured pre-recorded versions. And similar past choir recordings were used earlier this month during general conference.
Wilberg has missed being in front of a live choir and orchestra. “I’m just hoping that the [performers] are all doing very well.”
It’s uncertain when the choir will reconvene rehearsals and performances.
The recent general conference was surely surreal for choir members who, like millions of other Latter-day Saints, viewed the event from their own homes instead of from their usual seats in the Conference Center.
The experience prompted mixed emotions.
“I personally missed being there,” said Wilberg. “But at the same time, it was also great to experience those things that we had [pre]recorded…. and also to see the many wonderful musicians from even 20 years ago who were also a part of conference.
“I was actually quite touched watching that because, quite honestly, some of the folks we saw [in the recorded performances] have passed away, and others I haven’t seen for many, many years.”
The recent general conference was to be Kristen Olsen’s final conference performing with the choir.
Yes, the 20-year choir veteran would have preferred to be at the Conference Center singing alongside her fellow altos. But she also relished the pre-recorded choir selections. Like Wilberg, she “reconnected” with many friends she hadn’t seen in over a decade.
“There was a real sense of reunion,” she said.
Both Olsen and Clark eagerly anticipate the day when the choir and orchestra can safely come together for rehearsals and performances.
“It will be a happy day,” said Clark. “It will be wonderful just to see my friends in person again and once again create music for this great volunteer organization.”
Church spokesman Daniel Woodruff also commented Thursday on the status of the choir’s scheduled summer tour to several European nations.
“The choir continues to analyze the situation worldwide, and we hope to make an announcement as soon as we can,” he said.
The choir and the orchestra last toured two years ago when they made stops at several cities along the United States’ Pacific Coast and on to Vancouver, Canada. The 2018 Classic Coast Tour allowed the choir and orchestra to do what they do best: make connections and new friends while continuing their long-established roles as musical ambassadors/missionaries for the Church.
A 2018 tour highlight that gleaned wide attention was a joint rehearsal with the choir and members of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus on June 25 at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California.
“The purpose of music is to unite people,” said Jarrett following that memorable rehearsal. “Music affects people in many ways. This is a great opportunity to bring two cultures, if you will, to the center of things and to build bridges, to make friends, and to make an enjoyable experience for everyone through music.”