In a very uplifting end to a long day yesterday, we sat in on a rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. And we were not alone — the public is invited to come and go at will. At times nearly every available seat in the large Tabernacle was taken. The sound is magnificent! If you’re in Salt Lake City, make a point to hear this choir live!
We came in during a song — All Things Bright and Beautiful. At the song’s end, the audience broke out in applause. When that happened at the end of the next rendition, the conductor silenced it with a wave of his hand. He turned to thank the crowd and invited us to stay to the end of the rehearsal. Then he set to work bringing out the best from the talented musicians in the choir and orchestra.
What a beautiful and fascinating process. I am in awe of the level of coordination of such a large group as well as the individuals’ talents and preparation. At one point, while the conductor instructed the sopranos, my chorus-savvy friend leaned over to whisper, “Listen! I think he just told them to sing each others’ parts.” And then they sang the same song, but it sounded just a little different to me. The conductor nodded and moved on. So apparently these people show up well-versed not only in their own parts, but the others as well. Wow!
The orchestra dismissed, the conductor stepped up in the face of the choir and they worked over a rhythmic song, almost measure by measure. He asked the choir to tap eighth notes — in various meters, it went without saying — with their fingers as they sang. We tried to keep time too, but soon tired. They kept at it, getting the timing and every nuance of pronunciation.
I humbly disagree with Michangelo’s quote: “You wouldn’t call it genius if you knew how much work it took.” Yes, I would. I think it is exactly the willingness to stay with it and put in that level of effort that brings inspiration to life in sublime presentation.
Visually, the scene didn’t quite match the sound as everyone wore street clothes not robes. That added to the feeling of being a privileged insider. As much as I love giving the insider’s view in my writing, I will only offer this one photo as abstract art (and as usual offer to remove the photo promptly if anyone complains).
To close out the session, we were treated to a big, powerful Hallelujah Chorus. A very moving send-off into the night!