Church News and Events

Tabernacle Choir Earns Recording and Internet Success

  By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer

  • 4 February 2013

Tabernacle Choir music director Mack Wilberg leads the choir during the Sunday morning session of the 181st Annual General Conference Sunday, April 3, 2011, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo by Tom Smart.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir continues to reach milestones, both in the traditional medium of commercial recording and in the new medium of the Internet, specifically with its new YouTube channel launched last year.

The latest year-in-review issue of Billboard magazine, the recording industry trade publication, features the year-end charts for 2012. In one of those charts, the choir, with its sister organization the Orchestra at Temple Square, was named the Number 1 Traditional Classical Albums Artist.

Overall, the choir and orchestra charted on five of the year-end lists and twice on an albums list. It placed 3rd and 9th on Traditional Classical Albums (for the albums Glory! Music of Rejoicing and This Is the Christ respectively); 4th on Traditional Classical Albums Imprint; 5th on Traditional Classical Albums Label; and 12th on Classical Crossover Albums (for the album Glad Christmas Tidings featuring David Archuleta).

The magazine’s year-end charts are calculated using custom formulas that incorporate product sales, streaming music, and radio play.

The choir, which has been making recordings for more than a century, recently observed the 10th anniversary of the formation of its own recording label. It is a partner with Deseret Book Co., which handles all product distribution and marketing.

“This designation is much deserved and reflects the masterful music that the choir and orchestra produce, both in concert and recordings,” said Deseret Book CEO Sheri Dew regarding the Billboard magazine achievement. “It’s well-known that [music director] Mack Wilberg is a musical genius, and this just further validates it.”

The choir has recorded nearly 200 albums, including five gold records (indicating sales of 500,000 copies or more each) and two platinum records (1 million copies or more each), and earned a Grammy Award in 1959 for its signature song “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Its latest recording is Teach Me to Walk in the Light and Other Children’s Favorites, available in stores and as an iTunes download.

In addition to its recording industry success, the choir on January 17 topped 1 million views on the YouTube channel it launched less than three months ago, on October 30. The channel had an estimated 3.23 million minutes watched by viewers by the end of 2012.

Subscribers to the YouTube channel, in decreasing order of number of viewers, hail from the United States (no. 1), Brazil (no. 2), the Philippines (no. 10), Russia (no. 19), and Malaysia (no. 25) among other nations.

The full program of David Archuleta performing with the choir at the 2011 Christmas concert had the highest views, followed by Alex Boyé singing “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me.” Other favorites are Music and the Spoken Word broadcasts, Alfie Boe singing “Bring Him Home,” the choir performing “Hallelujah” from Christ on the Mount of Olives, and the African spiritual “Betelehemu.”

To access the channel, go to www.YouTube.com/user/MormonTabChoir.

The Music and the Spoken Word program is the world’s longest continuing network broadcast. It airs on more than 2,000 TV, radio, and cable stations across the country.

The 360 choir members are accompanied by the 110-member Orchestra at Temple Square and three organists: Clay Christiansen, Richard Elliott, and Andrew Unsworth. Ryan Murphy is the assistant music director.