Mormon Tabernacle Choir Blog

Spring Concert for Orchestra and Chorale Announced!

The Temple Square Chorale and Orchestra at Temple Square will join their musical talents for this year’s spring concert “An Evening of Brahms” in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Friday and Saturday, April 20–21, 2018. The evening’s performances will be under the baton of Ryan Murphy, associate music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and conductor of the Temple Square Chorale.

The spring concert program will include two favorite Johannes Brahms works. The Academic Festival Overture, op. 80, was composed as a musical “thank you” to the University of Breslau, which had notified Brahms he would be awarded an honorary doctorate in philosophy. The composer himself conducted the premier of the overture in 1881—and received his degree—at a special convocation held by the university. Of the Brahms’ catalog of 122 numbered works (and at least 40 more unnumbered works), he wrote only 14 works for orchestra—and of those, only two overtures. This overture is considered one of Brahms’s most beloved instrumental musical works.

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"I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go": The Perfect Hymn for Missionaries

“I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go” was published in 1899 and has been popular with Christians ever since. 

Although the text was written by a Baptist named Mary Brown (1856–1918), many people mistake the hymn as one of Latter-day Saint origin because of its missionary focus. “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go” is often sung at missionary farewells and expresses a desire to serve the Lord wherever and whenever.

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Meet a Young Descendant of Tabernacle Organ Builder Joseph Ridges

In a recent video by the Family History Guide, a young girl named Claribel discusses her ancestry and how she got her name. She even had the unique opportunity to play the organ with principal Tabernacle organist Richard Elliott.

As the video opens, the young girl confidently announces, “Hi, I’m Claribel. I’m named after a very important organ stop. My great-great-great-great-grandfather Joseph Ridges built the original Tabernacle Choir organ.”

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The Choir’s Historic 1875 Performance of Messiah

June 1875 was the first performance of Handel’s Messiah in Utah and the first Messiah production between Chicago and San Francisco. (The first West Coast performance of Messiah had been in San Francisco the previous November.) Performed by members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir combined with community members of other faiths, it was perhaps the crowning event in the musical history of Utah up to that time. That Messiah performance was directed by George Careless, then the music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and produced by the new Handel and Haydn Society, an “inter-denominational musical organization” created by Careless. The performance was given in the Salt Lake Theatre by two hundred singers and a full orchestra to a capacity audience.

This 1875 performance of Handel’s oratorio was a monumental accomplishment because the music of Messiah was little known in the West, even among accomplished musicians at that time. Its performance involved endless, painstaking rehearsals. In 1875, only six years after the railroad united the country at Promontory Point in Northern Utah, the realities of pioneer life still meant that music had to come after the necessary activities of conquering an untamed land. Music materials such as books and sheet music were scarce. What little music reached the Salt Lake valley had to be copied by hand for those who could read it and taught by rote to those who could not.

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"The Iron Rod" Was Written by Two Sunday School Workers

“The Iron Rod” is a hymn composed by William Clayson, with lyrics by Joseph L. Townsend. The hymn is number 274 in the 1985 hymnal but was originally written for the Payson Sunday School in Utah, where both Townsend and Clayson were Sunday School workers. The hymn was first included in the Deseret Sunday School Song Book in 1892.

The text for this uniquely Latter-day Saint hymn is based on an account in the Book of Mormon. In the book of 1 Nephi, chapter 8, Lehi saw a vision of the tree of life. “This hymn exhorts us toward our destiny; it also reminds us of the dangers that threaten us if we choose to release our hold on the one sure guide,” explained author Karen Lynn Davidson (Our Latter-Day Hymns: The Stories and the Messages [1988], 274).

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