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The experiences of Mormon Tabernacle Choir members are being told through the film “Singing With Angels,” scheduled for release in April 2016.
The choir is regularly heard in “Music and the Spoken Word” and LDS General Conference. Not as often heard are the stories of choir participants — personal challenges, hours of volunteer rehearsal and performance time each week and meaningful experiences that have touched their lives and others.
The storyline’s main focus originally revolved around the choir audition process, but director and producer Brian Brough and screenplay writer Britany Wiscombie saw need to change it. “As we looked at it we thought hey, it’s a great process but we want to show more,” Brough said. “We want to show a lot of the blessings that come and challenges people have.”
Approximately 70 of the choir members responded to the director’s invitation to share their experiences. Some of the stories involved auditioning two or three times, health issues or financial problems, but all included how they overcame those challenges. Brough and Wiscombe compiled the experiences that are common among choir members and incorporated them into the life of Audrey, the fictional character from the film.
“It’s not just what it takes to get in,” Wiscombe said, “but the amazing things that happen as members of the choir and in the lives of others.”
“Singing with Angels” tells the story of a middle-aged woman and her journey participating in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Audrey reaches a crossroad in her life and needs to decide whether to continue singing in the choir or to move on. A series of flashbacks show her auditions for the choir as well as other meaningful experiences and challenges she had while participating in the choir.
Choir members volunteered in the film. Brough estimated that 200 of the 360 members joined the filming and is thrilled about. The crew is excited to follow and film the choir for a few days during its tour on the East Coast near the end of June.
Brough said the film is not just for Mormons, and “anybody who loves the choir will love the movie too.” Brough stated that the research completed at the beginning of the process showed about half of the people who listen to the choir are not LDS church members. Wiscombe took that to heart as she wrote the screenplay. She was sensitive to jargon so the movie could appeal to everyone, not just the LDS community.
Brough and Wiscombe are siblings who started Candlelight Media Group in 2000. Together they began by distributing songs. Since then, they have completed films such as “16 Stones,” “Nowhere Safe” and “Christmas Angel.” Brough said he normally directs while Wiscombe writes, and both produce the films.
Both Wiscombe and Brough expressed the hope that “Singing With Angels” will help individuals see the power and spirit music brings. That power and spirit is demonstrated in the lives and experiences of the members of the choir.
“Bottom line is I hope people enjoy it and are entertained,” Brough said, “but then walk away learning more about the choir and feeling uplifted about the power music has.”
For more information and updates on the film, readers can visit the Facebook page “Singing With Angels.”