If you have ever been watching General Conference or any other performance of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and thought you saw a familiar face, you might be right. Jason Nelson of Morgan has been blessing the world with his vocal talents since 2011, when he began his service in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Each week he joins the 360-member choir for practice on Thursday nights for two hours. Nelson and the other choir members then spend another three hours every Sunday when they present Music and the Spoken Word. This is in addition to the special performances at Christmas, Pioneer Day, Tanner Gift of Music in alternating years, tours and, of course, General Conference in April and October.
This never ending schedule is what Lloyd Newell refers to as a train that keeps on going and never stops. That is one of Nelson’s favorite things about being a member of the choir.
“From a religious perspective, it is a spiritual experience every time,” said Nelson. He enjoys “rubbing shoulders” with the other choir members, being instructed by the high caliber directors and singing the hymns.
While singing at Morgan High school and college, Nelson enjoyed singing popular, classical and other songs; however, he finds singing the hymns is exceptionally rewarding.
“It is such a blessing being part of this great organization,” Nelson proclaims.
“I always wanted to do it,” Nelson explained of joining the choir. “I always thought I would have the opportunity.”
The audition process for the world famous choir is not an easy or quick task. The first phase required Nelson to submit a tape or CD with an unaccompanied recording of a hymn. In addition to the recording, he submitted a self-prepared letter and a letter of recommendation from his bishop.
The second phase included a written and oral testing, which measures musical ability and aptitude such as ear training and sight singing. During the third phase, Nelson had a live audition with Dr. Mack Wilberg, director of the choir. During this phase the applicant sings a favorite hymn, sight reads a piece of music, and is tested on their vocal range.
Each of these phases takes time and weeks and even months pass by between each phase. Nelson and others who have moved through this selection process had to endure the long wait of receiving the congratulations letter in the mail.
After Nelson was selected, he became a part of the Temple Square Chorale, which is primarily made up of new singers. During this time, the new singers participate in musical classes. After this four months of training, they can become full members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
“It was really interesting,” Nelson said of the audition process. He felt it was one of the most difficult things he has done, but that it was very rewarding.
Nelson has had many treasured experiences with the choir. He toured with the choir through the upper Midwest last year, which was thrilling but wasn’t the only excitement for the year. BYU Broadcasting won an Emmy for “The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Presents the Joy of Song.” Nelson sang in the extraordinary one-hour special that earned this award. Katherine Jenkins joined the choir in performing several numbers as well as performing the paso doble with her Dancing with the Stars partner, Mark Ballas.
Another very rewarding experience is when the the choir performed Berlioz Requiem with the Utah Symphony and Nelson was selected as one of the famous Ten Tenors solo in this extremely celebrated piece.
“Interacting with people is just amazing,” Nelson said.
Choir members are set apart as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Music has no language. It speaks to everyone,” he explained of missionary service through music. “It is common ground.” He finds that people are changed when they hear the inspirational choir. He feels the choirs’ home, the Mormon Tabernacle, is the best place to hear the choir, better than CD or other means.
Nelson graduated from Weber State University in integrated studies in 2006, where he studied music in detail. He also sang in the Morgan High School Ovation Choir. However, in high school his musical focus was more instrumental; he played the trumpet excellently.
Choir members can remain a part of the group for 20 years after they join or until they are 60 years old, whichever comes first. Nelson will be able to remain a part of this group until he is 52 years old, which is a substantial part of life.
“It’s such an amazing experience,” Nelson said. “Just amazing.”
Mormon Tabernacle fans can follow Jason Nelson and the whole choir through facebook, Youtube, Twitter and more as they reach out to audiences. Anyone over 8 years old can attend Music and The Spoken Word on Sundays for free.