Former Tabernacle Choir director teaches students to be courageous


Jerold Ottley, director of the tabernacle choir from 1974 to 1999 spoke to students at the Harris Fine Arts Center last Thursday, encouraging them not to be afraid of uncertainty in their education and future careers.

“Be courageous,” Ottley said. “Don’t be afraid to take some steps into the unknown. Prepare yourself well. Look at the possibilities so that you don’t make the terrible mistakes but then take that step even though you can’t see the end from the beginning.”

Ottley shared many experiences from his life of taking steps into the unknown which led him to working as the director of the Tabernacle Choir for 25 years.

[media-credit name=”Courtesy of Charlene Winters” align=”alignleft” width=”260″][/media-credit]Ottley’s lecture, entitled “You Want Me to do What?” was based from various experiences when he felt the need to make changes in his career and direction in life.

Tom Durham, a professor of music and long-standing acquaintance of Ottley, said that it’s important for students to understand the need to a step into uncertainty in order to be presented with opportunity.

“I want students to see that sometimes their destiny, whether it be in music or not, is not all that obvious,” Durham said. “But if they prepare themselves while at BYU by studying hard, showing up and taking risks, opportunities will present themselves.”

Durham said that Ottley has a lot to offer students through his lecture and in life experiences.

“He embodies so much of what I admire,” Durham said. “Academics, music, musicianship, family and church.”

During his time as Tabernacle Choir director, Ottley produced 30 commercial recordings, 20 major international tours and over 1,300 Tabernacle Choir broadcasts.

The lecture was well attended by faculty and students.

Johnathan Litster, a senior studying music, said that he benefited spiritually from Ottley’s lecture and his shared experiences.

“The biggest thing for me was nothing that he said,” Litster said. “It was actually the things that the spirit said.”

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