My Musical Missionary Story, Part 2

Yesterday I shared Part 1 of my audition story with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

I made it! What happens now?

For me, being a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has meant that every Sunday morning I get up at 5:25 am to prepare physically and vocally to lift my voice in song and praise as part of the historic Music and the Spoken Word TV and Radio program.

(side note: a lot of people in the Choir and Orchestra have to wake up a lot earlier than me! I’m one of the lucky ones who live relatively close to Temple Square).

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir (Photo credit: Nick, Programmerman)

I strive to sing my very best. I want to bring peace and joy to those who listen to the music each week. I want to share my love for God our Heavenly Father, and for His only begotten Son through each song. But, to create something heavenly, you usually have to invest a lot of earthly effort! So, I work on producing my very best sound, blending with the other singers, forming my vowels correctly, using proper breath support, memorizing the notes and words, enunciating the syllables of the words, “shaping” and “phrasing”, listening to our conductors and striving to follow their direction to keep improving my singing technique and keep perfecting my performance. It’s a tremendous responsibility & privilege. But, it’s also a lot of hard work.

English: Mack Wilberg conducting
English: Mack Wilberg conducting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In addition to every Sunday morning, I also attend 3 hours of rehearsal every Thursday night. And often Tuesday nights, and a few Wednesday nights are added (especially when preparing for recordings, special concerts, General Conference, or tours). During a recording week, or a special concert week, my choir & orchestra buddies and I are pretty much together every night of the week, all-day Saturday, and then up again on Sunday morning. During TOUR, we are together 24/7 for several days (or weeks)!

(read about our June 2013 TOUR, HERE!)

Mormon Tabernacle Choir Rehearsal
Mormon Tabernacle Choir Rehearsal (Photo credit: BFS Man)

Saying that my membership in the Choir is a “big time commitment” would definitely be an understatement.

HUGE shout-out moment to my awesome husband and children for being uber-supportive and willing to go for long periods of time without seeing me at home!!!

Many people naturally believe that because this is such a professional group, with such an intensive time commitment, I am being paid to do all of this.

Actually, I’m not.

In fact, we are an organization of mostly unpaid volunteers. That includes; all of the Choir members, all of the Orchestra members, the majority of the staff and stage crew, and countless other behind-the-scenes volunteers. People such as our amazing wardrobe ladies who hand sew hundreds upon hundreds of dresses (try multiplying 175 women x 7 dresses), or our music librarians who catalog somewhere around 2,000 different selections of music, times 375 singers and 100+ Orchestra, and then magically checking in & out 5-8 different pieces of music, per person, every week! Truly mind boggling, and all unpaid.

Look what I found!

I’m sure each volunteer member has their personal reasons for donating their time and talents. There’s a similar theme attached;  love for music, love for God, and a desire to share that love with others. Personally, I don’t do this just because I love to sing. There are many other musical opportunities I could choose from. I spent over two decades of my life as a professionally trained opera singer. I loved performing in Operas and Musical Theater productions. But, then I had this feeling that I really needed to audition for The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I originally thought serving in the Tabernacle Choir would be my way to “give back” to God for some miracles He performed for my family. The irony is that God just kept blessing me (like he does for everyone). So, of course, I’m forever in His debt. Eventually, I have come to realize that giving my time and talents through membership in the Choir is what God really wants me to do right now. This was a call from the Lord that, thankfully, I answered. So, for me, my membership is a sacred duty.

Mormon Tabernacle Choir at Red Rocks.
Mormon Tabernacle Choir at Red Rocks. (Photo credit: tracy out west)
2013_MoSop singing

I plan to continue to serve with the Choir for as long as God wants me to, or until the year I turn 60 years old (the membership age limit), whichever comes first. I have sung with many choirs in my life. But, this one stands apart. I’ve witnessed the music of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has a particularly powerful effect to create unity and build bridges between people of all nationalities, cultures and beliefs. The sound and the message carries a beautiful balm. During our performances and tours I get to meet our audience members and “fans”. They are always people of very diverse backgrounds and faith traditions from mine, and it is inspiring and heartwarming to hear them express their love for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They share memories of growing up listening to the Choir, or a story of how the music of the Choir helped them get through a particularly hard time. We share a sweet bond as we talk. And, in their eyes I see I am a “musician”, an “artist”, a “singer”, an “American woman”, a “Mom from Utah”, and a “new friend”…who also just happens to be a Mormon.

Oh, how I love that!

On the anniversary of 5 years of membership with this amazing Choir, I can honestly say that this experience has been the most tremendously difficult work I’ve ever invested musically and personally, and also the most tremendously rewarding. I look forward to each day of my journey as a musical missionary! – MoSop


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