Pioneer spirit: Mormon Tabernacle Choir celebrates Days of '47 and its own long history

From its beginning, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has celebrated the efforts of pioneers, of those who carved out homes in the wilderness, made the desert blossom as a rose, built cities and established institutions.

This year's Pioneer Day Commemoration Concert on Friday will focus on the choir's own pioneering efforts, particularly in the field of recorded music.

One hundred years ago, under the auspices of the Columbia Phonograph Co., the choir was the first large musical organization in this country to make a recording. Nothing has slowed it down in the century since, as it has recorded in every medium, every new technology as it came along. In all, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has 175 recordings and releases to its credit.

It has often collaborated with some of the world's leading musicians, including the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein, the Royal Philharmonic, the Columbia Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Brass Ensemble, Canadian Brass and the Utah Symphony. In 1958 it began a partnership with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, which lasted more than a decade and resulted in some legendary releases. In 1999 it added its own orchestra to its family; in 2003, it created its own record label.

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