Tabernacle Choir to expand international reach through trial programs

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square sings at the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Oct. 29, 2015. The Choir has begun work on pilot programs, and created plans to accomplish new key objectives that will expand the Choir’s international reach. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square will broaden its international reach through new key objectives and pilot programs to “accomplish things it has never done before.”

The Choir’s mission statement now reads, “The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square performs music that inspires people throughout the world to draw closer to the divine and feel God’s love for His children.” The new mission statement, four key objectives and pilot programs are a culmination of months of prayerful consideration by the Choir presidency as to how the Choir can accomplish its expanded “global mission.”

The four key objectives now aim to “expand the Choir’s digital audience,” “magnify the Choir’s missionary role,” “reflect the Church’s worldwide mission” and “increase worldwide visibility,” according to their website.

President L. Whitney Clayton, first counselor in the Choir presidency, expounded upon the Choir’s new initiatives, and what the pilot programs will include. 

“The world has changed tremendously over the decades. Instead of having newspapers, and even television stations, the world has shifted, and now it’s a digital world,” Clayton said. “So, we saw a need to make some changes. Not in what the Choir does, but in how we get the Choir out into the world.”

Clayton said the changes come after the Choir presidency considered the growth of the Church around the world, and “the Choir’s role as a diplomatic instrument in the hands of the Lord, to help the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ spread throughout the world.”

Clayton said that because of the Church’s large membership in Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries, efforts are underway to expand the reach of Choir broadcasts into members’ native languages. 

“We could see that the Music & the Spoken Word is not reaching our Latin American members, not to mention those who are not of our faith,” Clayton said. “It became obvious that if we were to offer the narration and text in Spanish and Portuguese, we might reach a large part of the Church, and of course a large part of the world, without a tremendous amount of innovation.”

Dependent upon the success of Spanish and Portuguese broadcasts of “Music & the Spoken Word,” other languages may then be considered for trial upon approval from the First Presidency.

The Choir will also trial the addition of international members. Members of the Choir are currently required to live within 100 miles of the Tabernacle in Salt Lake to attend rehearsals and performances multiple times a week. Clayton said the pilot program will help the Choir “represent the worldwide Church and its worldwide mission.”

“Nobody’s being integrated as a long-term Choir member by doing this. Rather, it’s an attempt to learn as much as we can, to see how to do this,” Clayton said. “We went to five international areas and asked the area presidencies to recommend people. We didn’t ask for people to apply. The area presidencies sent in over 120 recommendations, so we’re working on those right now.”

Chosen members will be integrated into the April 2023 session of General Conference, where Clayton says it will allow people around the world to recognize and identify with Church members from their own countries.

“The Church is an international church. The Choir is the Church’s choir. It’s not Utah’s choir, or Salt Lake’s choir — it’s not even America’s choir, although we’ve said that in the past,” Clayton said. “It’s a worldwide church’s choir. We feel a need to help the Choir represent the worldwide Church and its worldwide mission.”

The Choir will also roll out new digital products, including behind-the-scenes content from guest artists, and an increased social media presence. One of the new product concepts has been trialed outside of the US, where Clayton said the response was favorable.

“One of the things that we’re doing is adopting a digital-first policy, or a digital-first approach,” Clayton said. “We recognize the great value of social media, and we also recognize that music is a wonderful way, a pleasant way, an attractive way, to share a message about the Savior, a message about the gospel, a message of hope, of peace, of comfort, a message that stirs one’s soul.”

The Choir will also take advantage of technology advancements that will allow for more personalized uniforms for sisters in the choir, and shorten the timeframes of uniform production. Clayton said this may allow for more diverse and appropriate looks in different countries when the Choir travels.

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