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History of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Utah
Taken from the Utah History Encyclopedia. (Links Added)
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Organist Alexander Schreiner (1924-77), who devoted the greater part of his outstanding career to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, was especially influential in the choir's rise to musical maturity. Schreiner was also the moving force behind the installation of G. Donald Harrison's magnificent Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ, recently renovated (1988) and enlarged (11,623 pipes in 206 ranks) under the careful supervision of organists Robert Cundick (1965), John Longhurst (1977), and Clay Christiansen (1982). Richard Elliott was appointed in April 1991 to fill the vacancy created by Cundick's retirement later that year. The virtually round-the-clock schedule of the choir's current programs resulted in the appointment of two associate organists--Linda Margetts and Bonnie Goodliffe--in 1984. Originally unpaid volunteers, both have since been given part-time salaried positions, placing them on similar footing with the three full-time organists. Other organists for the choir have included John J. McClellan (1900-25), Edward P. Kimball (1905-37), Tracy Y. Cannon (1909-30), Frank Asper (1924-63), Wade Naisbitt Stephens (1933-44), and Roy Darley (1947-84). Henry E. Giles, Katherine Romney Stewart, Walter J. Poulton, and Moroni Gillespie have also served as assistants at various times. Karl G. Maeser, Fannie Young Thatcher, Sarah Coke, Orson Pratt, Jr., and John M. Chamberlain served as organists in the "Old" Tabernacle.

The Tabernacle organ has long been an independent attraction on Temple Square. Regular free recitals were initiated in 1901 by John J. McClellan and have continued to the present. At first, they were given only on Wednesdays and Saturdays, then on Tuesdays and Fridays. By 1908 the recitals had become so popular that it was decided to give them daily, except Sundays, during the summer season. Various schedules were subsequently adopted to accommodate the increasing number of visitors to Temple Square. At present, Tabernacle recitals are presented daily at noon, except Sundays, when they are presented at 2:00 P.M. Two other recital organs complement the resources of Temple Square: a 1983 tracker instrument by Robert L. Sipe of Dallas, Texas, in the Assembly Hall, and a 1993 Casavant organ in the chapel of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

See: J. Spencer Cornwall, A Century of Singing (1958); Charles Jeffrey Calman and William I. Kaufman, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir (1979); Gerald A. Petersen, More Than Music: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir (1979); Barbara Owen, The Mormon Tabernacle Organ: An American Classic (1990).

Roger L. Miller


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