Home community Mormon Tabernacle Choir member addresses SUP

Mormon Tabernacle Choir member addresses SUP

Jason Nelson

The Morgan Chapter of the Utah Sons of Pioneers held their monthly luncheon on Nov. 16.  Chapter President, Ron Ray, conducted the meeting and gave a presentation Henry Easton Day and the Utah War.

The Utah War took place in 1857 when Day had only been a member of the Church of Latter-day Saints for five years.  He participated because he did not trust the government inasmuch as they had not stood up for the rights of the LDS church. 

President Buchanan sent 2,500 troops to take care of the problem in Utah after being told the Mormons were not patriotic citizens to the U.S.  Both sides did not have accurate information about the other side.

The troops left in mid-summer and President Brigham Young knew that they were coming.  He told the members to move south, which they did.  They also made guns and ammunition to protect themselves.  The temple construction ceased and the foundations were buried and filled in.  This disguised the temple foundations where the freshly plowed fields were made to look like farms and nothing else.

A team of 25 men were sent east to Fort Bridger.  Day and Lott Smith were among them. Their orders were to disrupt and destroy the wagon supply trains.  Two wagon trains consisting of 25 wagons each were intercepted and 25 wagons were burned, with the remaining wagons kept for the saints.  When it was all over, a total of 74 wagons had been burned which amounted to over $80,000 worth of supplies. 

These men sent by Brigham Young also burned the prairie grasses, which created a major problem and a hindrance to the army where their animals had nothing to eat.   In the end, one remarkable thing about this war was that there was not a single shot fired. 

The guest speaker was Jason Nelson, a member of the Tabernacle Choir and Milton native.  Nelson has been a member of the choir since 2011.  The choir is the oldest in the world having 360-400 members, plus support staff.  It was started in 1867 when the Salt Lake Tabernacle was completed. The huge organ has a total of 11,623 pipes, and is one of the largest in the world. Music and The Spoken Word began in 1929. 

The goal of the choir is simply to reach more people.  Volunteerism is the genius of the choir.  The choir may be required to practice every day of the week except Mondays when they are getting ready for a special show or a major event. 

Choir members may serve in the choir from ages 25-55 years old.  They may serve for 20 years or until age 60.  They perform over 75 times each year, so that keeps them rather busy.  When they travel on tour, they go with 600 singers along with the support staff.  They require three semi trucks to carry their materials. 

During their 2015 tour to New York, they performed two concerts in Carnegie Hall. All of the organ solos that Richard Elliott performs are memorized. 

Of special interest was that during their last tour to the New York Area, they were not told about one of their stops on the 4th of July. It was kept extremely secret until they were on their way to perform at the West Point Military Academy. 

Watching the cadets solemnly march in along with the patriotic music and setting made this the highlight of their tour.  The skies were cloudy and it had rained all day, that is up until the time of the concert where the clouds parted and the skies cleared up for their rehearsal and concert.

This year the choir will be going to Europe.  This tour will last for 20 days.

Special guests who are invited to participate in their concerts such as the Christmas program are put on a tight contract, with everything in order, so no hitches may occur.  When Walter Cronkite was their guest narrator, his agent wanted $100,000 to be in the show.  When they asked him to direct the choir, he gladly accepted, and made comments until his dying day about how much he loved being with and directing them.  We were never told how much he was finally paid, but we were assured it was a lot less than his agent had asked for.  After the performance, Cronkite suggested that the choir continue their Christmas Program each year, which has happened ever since, thanks to his suggestion.

David Archuleta was a Christmas Concert guest and was escorted and helped at every turn by Elder Ballard.  Up to this point Archuleta had not made a decision to serve a mission.  He shortly thereafter turned in his papers and was very emotional when he announced his mission call at one of his concerts.  He expected boos and jeers when he did so, but the audience only cheered him at this announcement.

Nelson is now one of the soloists for the choir.  He sang at President Packer’s funeral service and had only three days to memorize the music. He was also one of the soloists at the recent General Conference.

Nelson relayed details about the three phase grueling audition process to become a member of the Tabernacle Choir.  He said every walk of life is represented in the choir.

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