As one of the largest, most remarkable volunteer choirs in the world, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has garnered its fair share of praise—from members of the Church as well as those outside it. Here is a taste of some of the inspiring thoughts famous figures have shared when asked about the Tabernacle Choir. Listen to some of these famous performers alongside the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on the brand-new album Mormon Tabernacle Choir & Friends, available at Deseret Book stores and on deseretbook.com.
President Ronald Reagan was the first to dub the Tabernacle Choir "America's Choir." He said, “At my first inauguration as president of the United States, I wanted very much to reignite the fires of liberty and re-inspire the American spirit. And no one sings the anthems of America quite like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.”
Angela Lansbury, who performed with the Choir during their Christmas performance in 2001, warmly said “I think the choir has a quality, an essence, which is so staggering and beautiful. It just fills your heart to hear them sing.”
Sing performed with the Tabernacle Choir in the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics and said the following: "I obviously knew the reputation of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but I'd never experienced it. I began the song, and then this sound filled the room, this vibration filled the room, I turned to the director and said, 'I've never heard human beings sound this way.'”
The Muppets® from Sesame Street®
When The Muppets® from Sesame Street® performed with the Tabernacle Choir in 2014, they weren't just inspiring others with a spirit of love and generosity—they were also on the receiving end.
Carol-Lynn Parente, the executive producer of Sesame Street® shared, "At Sesame®, we always are proud of sort of this high bar we have towards excellence, and to work with another organization that has an even higher bar than we do has been a joy and a privilege." Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, or Abby Cadabby as she is known on Sesame Street®, was also touched:
"What surprised me about being in the experience was the way I felt inside hearing the voices and feeling them in my heart and the resonating of being surrounded by the Choir and how you could feel it from the inside out . . . Every once in a while I get this breath of overwhelming when I hear the strings come alive and the music come alive and everybody blending together. I wasn’t really prepared for that type of feeling or emotion—that magic.”
John Rhys-Davies, perhaps best known for his role as Gimli in The Lord of the Rings, performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Christmas concert in 2013. He said the following about the Choir:
“I’m a Welshman, you see, and I grew up in a little mining village, so I grew up hearing the Choir singing in Welsh. And of course, anyone who knows about choral music has to know that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has for years been a wonderful choir. The music is magnificent and I cannot tell you—the presentation, the professionalism, the quality. What an experience. What an experience! Oh, dear me."
According to the Deseret News, actor Jimmy Stewart called his experience directing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir during a scene from Mr. Kreuger's Christmas the most unique of his career. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir shares this additional quote from Stewart: “I have always felt that we needed to put the emphasis on what Christmas is really all about, and this story does that…the chance to stand in front of that choir that I have adored all my life was just impossible to resist.”
Talented actress Jane Seymour said of her experience in the 2011 Mormon Tabernacle Christmas concert, “I think this is experience is quite different from anything else I’ve ever done. First of all, I was surrounded by people who are volunteering their talents and it’s in the spirit of giving the best that they can and really uplifting lives. There’s a spiritual element to what was happening . . . that’s really different. . . . there’s a feeling of unity, a feeling of love."
A 2006 guest for the Tabernacle Choir's Christmas concert, Norwegian singer Sissel has fond feelings from her time with the Choir. "The first thing that came to me when I met the choir . . . was I was overwhelmed by this warmth. They were people who really loved what they were doing. . . . When you sing with a choir that is so big, their precision and presence is so unique. . . . For me it’s fantastic. I really feel like I’m in the middle of something that I don’t want it to end.”
When the late R&B artist Natalie Cole performed with the Tabernacle Choir in 2009, she came away with feelings of awe: “This experience has been like no other I don’t believe since I’ve been in the business. Something about this experience, this whole production, it’s just been a real eye-opener. They’ve been so embracing and so warm and so welcoming and so accommodating. They’ve just been terrific. And it’s run so impeccably well.”
Performing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in 2010 was a dream come true for David Archuleta.“I always thought it would be neat to be in the Choir and have those opportunities to sing those songs. So getting to be a special guest to perform with the Choir for their Christmas special is beyond words for me. Just getting to be up on the stage with that choir is one of the best feelings I’ve ever felt in my life.”
Watch him sing to the Choir during a rehearsal in 2009:
Appearing with the Choir in 2002, Cronkite praised the Choir with the following words:
"I think that this choir undoubtedly has an importance greater than entertaining or even momentarily uplifting an audience . . . in this magnificent hall in which it appears. It has a lasting influence on America. It maintains and upholds the standard of ecclesiastical music and other music as well in a way that is needed today.”
Opera star Renée Fleming said of her experience with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in 2005, "When I was first asked to sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, I went very quickly back to my memories of seeing the Choir on television as a child. The size of the Choir and the homogeneous sound in unison of so many voices made an incredible impression upon me when I was very young. [It is] arguably one of the finest choirs in the world . . .”
Performer Edward Herrmann appeared with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in 2008. Though he has since passed away, his feelings about the Choir still stand: “That’s key to all religions, whether it’s Buddhist or Hindu or Dao or Islam . . . or Christian religions. The transformation of the heart, the kingdom of heaven, is within. And if this glory of the Mormon Choir and this extraordinary center doesn’t reflect an inner spirituality, then it’s just noise. It’s a glorious noise out there, but it’s also connected to the inner self. There’s a powerful spirit here. And people are devoted not because they have a beautiful temple square or this beautiful building but because they want to be changed and they want to bring light into the world. It was a great, great gift to be here, to take part in that.”
Watch him welcome the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to YouTube in 2012:
Of his experience appearing with the Tabernacle Choir in 2012, journalist and newscaster Tom Brokaw said, “I’ve often said that, as a journalist, I’ve been able to fulfill my childhood dreams of wanting to be in the front row of history wherever it’s being made. And the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and orchestra is certainly part of that for the American culture. It is a fixed part of who we are. The sounds, the commitment of the people who participate, the place of the LDS church in American religious music . . .”
Prolific composer John Williams worked with the Mormon Tabenacle Choir in 2002 as he wrote music for the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics. He shared, “The choir more than met my expectations. I was like a giddy child working with them—I loved it.”
James Taylor, one of the world's most enduring and recognizable singer-songwriters, said of his experience singing with the Choir in 2013, "Your reputation rightly precedes you throughout the world, and I really am so thrilled and honored to have you consider my music."
During a podcast discussion with Paula Poundstone, Tom Hanks announced that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir would be performing at the 2017 presidential inauguration and referenced a few other celebrities. When Paula said "I don't think the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is exactly a celebrity," Hanks followed up with, "I'm just going through all the famous choirs in my head, and out of them all I think that if any choir is, in fact, the celebrity of choirs, I'd have to give it to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir."
"But would you recognize them if they are not in the Tabernacle?" Poundstone asked.
That's when Tom Hanks followed up with his hilarious reply, "I was under the impression they just wore those robes everywhere they went."
Read and listen to more in "Tom Hanks Defends Mormon Tabernacle Choir on NPR in Most Hilarious Way"
Lead images from mormontabernaclechoir.org
Listen to some of these famous performers alongside the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on the brand-new album Mormon Tabernacle Choir & Friends, available at Deseret Book stores and on deseretbook.com. Watch the video above for a taste of what this album has to offer!