The Choir's Rigorous Audition Process
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is an all-volunteer choral ensemble of 360 individuals, each with family and employment responsibilities. They have the unique musical experience of performing publicly each week on Music and the Spoken Word, a 30-minute program broadcast worldwide on radio, television, and live streamed over the internet. Including these weekly performances plus concerts, tours, and recordings, Choir members average 75 scheduled performances per year. The opportunity to share that music with others makes the hours of rehearsals and performances worth the effort.
What does it take to make it into the Choir?
The process to become a member of the Choir is rigorous, stretching over 9 months. An individual must meet a set of membership criteria, complete a three-phase audition process, and then complete 16 weeks of training. At the conclusion of that process successful candidates become members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Applicants must meet several criteria for membership which include:
- Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- Being between 25 and 55 years of age
- Residing within 100 miles of the Salt Lake Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah
Four-Phase Audition Process
Auditions are conducted once each year in four phases. Auditions are usually open for all voice parts.
- Phase 1 consists of submission of a completed application, a CD voice recording, and a local church leader’s recommendation. The application and an application guide are posted online each year on July 1. Applications must be postmarked no later than August 15
- Phase 2 is a 2 ½ hour musical skills written and aural assessment that measures musical ability and aptitude. Applicants with acceptable test scores (usually 80% or better) then advance to the next phase. This usually takes place in mid-September.
- Phase 3 begins with an interview with the Choir president to be sure the candidate understands the demands of choir membership. It concludes with an in-person audition before the Choir’s two music directors which includes soloing singing, testing vocal range, and sight reading. In-person auditions are usually in early to mid October.
- Phase 4 is called Choir School. Every Thursday night for 16 weeks, the Choir School instructors train participants in sight-reading, music theory, rehearsal techniques, vocal blending, listening skills, Choir policies, and more. The Choir School prepares candidates for a rigorous schedule of Music and the Spoken Word broadcasts, special concerts, LDS general conference, and other Church and community events. Near the end of Choir School, the singers take a final exam. Every Tuesday during those same 16 weeks, the Temple Square Chorale meets for rehearsals to prepare for a major concert held each spring in conjunction with the Orchestra at Temple Square. Following successful completion of the concert and passing the Choir School final exam, participants will at last become members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Audition results are sent by letter which usually arrives by late fall. Successful applicants become members of the Temple Square Chorale and enroll in Choir School.
The 16-week course of training has proved invaluable to meet the demands of Choir’s performance schedule and limited rehearsal time. The training takes place each Tuesday and Thursday night and applicants commit to 100% attendance over the four-month period.
The Temple Square Chorale is a training ensemble made up of newly accepted members and some current Choir members that rehearses each week on Tuesday. Ryan Murphy, associate music director of the Choir, conducts the Temple Square Chorale in rehearsing and then performing a choral masterwork (think Faure Requiem or Mendelsohnn’s Elijah). Choir School, held each Thursday night, consists of classroom training in music theory, sight singing, rehearsal techniques, and much more.
At the end of the sixteen weeks, there is a final Choir School exam and the performance by the Temple Square Chorale. Only then does the audition process started in July culminate in individuals becoming members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with a first performance usually in May.