Sunday, August 31, 2008

What it takes...

So I'm sure someone is wondering what it takes to audition for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, unless you've already googled it and know all about it.

The first three requirements are pretty easy:

~Be between 25 and 55 years of age (a minimum of 5 years of service is expected and a lifetime maximum of 20 years)
~Live within a 100 mile radius of Temple Square
~Be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in good standing

After that it gets tricky:
~Fill out an application (in July) including a recording of yourself singing a hymn and other vocal exercises
If they like your tape, then:
~pass a written theory test & listening test
If you pass those, then:
~live, in person, audition; part of which is performing a difficult piece they send you and another part is sight reading your part (alone) in a quartet

That all takes about 6 months.
If you make it through all that, you're in!
Except that you have to first spend three months in the Temple Square Chorale while taking a music theory class.
After that you have to pass another written and singing evaluation, then you graduate into the real choir.

Also, as for odds...
Our guy in the choir (Nathan) said that they usually get anywhere from 400-500 applications to fill around 20 seats annually.

He knew one lady who auditioned 4 times before getting in.

Other things I found interesting:
~The choir president was encouraging members to join the recording association, so that they can vote on who wins the Grammys!
~The choir has it's own record label and puts out 2-3 CDs a year and usually one DVD for Christmas.

Here's a link if you want to learn a whole lot more about the audition process:

Oh, also, I thought it was really interesting (if you aren't a member of the church, you may not appreciate this fact, however...)
Once you are in the choir, you are set apart as a musical missionary and it becomes your calling! I thought that was so cool.
That just shows what a big time commitment it is.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I attended the Choral Conducting Academy at BYU last week and it was great fun and a little depressing. The depressing thing to me is that there are soooo many things in which it would help to be an expert and it would sure take time and effort to become one. Singing takes a lot of effort to do it well and there are so many subtlties to being a great conductor, and not to mention analyzing music! I'd rather be the pianist that can transpose at the drop of a hat, but..... that takes so much more time and a different kind of effort.


One very fun highlight of the week was taking a bus (with the other academy attendees) to Salt Lake City to attend a rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. But, that was not all, no, we actually got to fill in the empty seats and rehearse with them!!!
I think the excuse was so that we could have a good view of the conductor, Mack Wilberg.

The choir was preparing for a concert coming up that weekend, so we sped through a lot of music.
It was pretty hard for me to follow foreign language words with totally unfamiliar music. I think Hebrew was the hardest to follow, but the Chichester Psalms by Leonard Bernstein, was sure neat music.

The first song we rehearsed was in French, but it was a familiar tune, HabaƱera, from Carmen by Bizet, so that wasn't too hard to follow, even though I had never sung that arrangement before. (I've only sung the melody with Charlotte Church in my car.)

Then, we sang in Latin. Requiem - Sanctus, by Verdi. It was arranged for 2 choirs, so that was really interesting trying to follow along. The director said that it is an opera without costumes or scenery.

Next up, was the Triumphal Chorus from Aida, also by Verdi. If I remember correctly, this one was in Italian. The director said he was letting the choir get away with a lot tonally, because "It's an opera, it'll sound funny if we sing it too refined. It needs some spa-GHET'ti to it!"

Finally, we sang some in English:
'Going Home' based on Dvorak "New World Symphony" (much easier to sing in English!)
Danny Boy, arr. by Joseph Flemmerfelt (I think they had to memorize this one to sing as an encore)
Shenandoah, arr. by Mack Wilberg
An American Songbook, written for the Tabernacle Choir for the 2002 Winter Olympics
God Bless America (they also had to memorize this for the encore)

All those songs were for the Sun Valley, Idaho, benefit concert ($250-$500/ticket!).
Then, they rehearsed a couple for the Deer Valley concert the same weekend:
Psalm 86, by Gustav Holt
Amazing Grace, arr. by Wilberg
and the Chichester Psalms (that I already mentioned).

On the bus back to Provo, our tour guide, Nathan, told us about the choir.
It was really interesting.
He said that there are currently 397 members and 363 seats in the choir loft at the Conference Center.
There were emptly seats, because there is only a 75% attendance requirement.
Nathan said he goes for 3 weeks and then takes a week off.

I'll write about the audition process in another entry.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Things I Learned at Girls Camp

1. Dirt can become a part of your fingerprint.

2. Great Dane dogs are the size of small ponies.

3. Stars are really pretty away from the city lights.
(I guess I already knew that, but it's nice to be reminded.)

4. Martinez is pronounced "MARTIN-ez" in Ohio.

5. If you get tired of your kids saying "Mom" all day, change your name to a bad word, so that they can't say it.

6. If you can't decide whether to call a short play a "show" or a "skit," you better make up your mind quickly or a bad word might come out instead by accidently combining the two. (This didn't happen to me personally, but I witnessed it. Luckily the girls were not nearby to hear, Scandalous!)

7. It's hard to have whole days with NO free time. Sure we were anxiously engaged in good causes, but sometimes it's nice not to be commanded in all things and to be able to do many good things of our own free will and desire.

8. I can put up with lots of annoying behavior knowing that it's going to go to it's own home at the end of the week.
I think it's the ~knowing how long I have to endure~ that makes it easier to be cheerful in the face of a trial.

9. Talking with the other leaders after the girls go to sleep is great fun!

10. If you want to take a picture of the fascinating witches with the stimulating stiches on the britches of the boys who put the powder on the noses of the faces of the ladies of the harem of the Court of King Caratacus, you're too late, they just passed by.