One Sunday morning a few weeks ago I found myself in the tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. I wasn't attending Music and the Spoken Word, I was in front of the pipe organ.
Just a little over a week prior, I had gotten an email with a casting call. The first line read, Have you ever wanted to sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir? Here’s your chance!!
A long-time and all-but-forgotten dream, my answer was, YES! Of COURSE I've wanted to sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir!
As a blogger I was well aware of the chance to be included in the virtual choir, but this opportunity to sing with the choir in person came to me as an actor. I submitted my application and was one of about 80 extras cast.
We were told to wear street clothes, and our call time was 7:00 a.m. After the weekly Music and the Spoken Word broadcast was finished we were brought upstairs, lined up, and eventually placed in our seats.
The choir members then joined us, taking their places around the extras. It was a cozy arrangement, to be certain, and the choir members were gracious, kind, and encouraging. I was glad to have seen DeAnn, Amanda, Ben, and Thomas.
Among the extras there were familiar faces from my life, and familiar faces from YouTube.
Trina was the only other choir extra I knew, and when I saw her at rehearsal on Thursday my only disappointment was that she is a soprano so I didn't get to sit next to her. She has taught #LetsPlayMusic to 2 of my kids and I always wanted to stay after class to talk with her (for those of you keeping track, this is the third of my kids' music teachers I saw at the Tabernacle yesterday) (DeAnn taught my girls piano, don't know if I mentioned that). The pic on the left was taken at about 7:30 in the morning; the pic on the right at about 3:30 in the afternoon. We asked those girls to photo bomb that one. And we were exhausted. One of my very favorite things about the entire experience yesterday is that the last time I sang the Hallelujah Chorus, I did so standing next to Trina. It was a tight camera shot for the organist, and we're likely not even in it, I just really liked singing with her. #hallelujah #ShareGoodness #ShareAwesome #mormon #LDS #MoTab #NoFilter #IHaveAwesomeFriends
With the choir and orchestra members in place, Mack Wilberg approached the podium, welcomed everyone and we quickly began rehearsal with a click track.
The melody of Hallelujah Chorus is so well-known even small children sing it without knowing much about it. It wasn't lost on me that I was singing this song with one of the best choirs on this planet.
It was straight out of a dream. I really don't know how else to describe it. As I stood there singing, memories rushed by: standing by the stereo in my childhood home, learning choral music and imagining what it would sound like to be with this choir; singing Battle Hymn of the Republic in an outdoor amphitheater at all-county choir and dreaming of what it would sound like in the tabernacle; being in the tabernacle and hearing the choir in person for the first time in 1997 and wondering what it would be like to sit in those very seats as part of the choir; singing hymns along with the choir broadcast on the radio while in my kitchen (just earlier that month).
From where I stood (alto section, 5th row up, 2nd seat in from the aisle) (look for the one in the grey pullover, not a white dress) it sounded perfect every time. Any chance to pick up again and sing even a portion of the Hallelujah Chorus was, for me, nothing less than thrilling.
Like most film acting jobs there was a lot of waiting while cameras were set and reset, and I loved talking with the choir members around me, finding out their experiences, how long they've been singing with the choir. Many women I talked with have careers in music education. These are women from all walks of life, with a vast range of life experiences who come together each week in identical dresses (oh yes, we talked about the dresses) to worship through song.
Surprisingly (to no one more than myself) I was able to keep it together and not cry during the experience. I'm grateful to have been able to enjoy and be in the moment, taking in all I could around me that day.
The #Hallelujah virtual choir video will be released on Sunday (visit followhim.mormon.org). I can't wait to see it, because I want to see how it all comes together with the videos that were submitted. Friends from so many seasons of my life told me they submitted videos: friends in my current neighborhood in Utah, friends in my hometown in New York, friends who are Mormon, not Mormon, gay, straight, married, single... I hope you'll forgive such classifications, I just want to express how moved I was that, just like the members of the choir I sat next to in the tabernacle that Sunday, friends from all walks of life, with a vast range of life experiences came together for this oratorio suited for the Easter season-- to worship through song.
If you're interested in behind-the-scenes stuff:
**HERE'S THE VIDEO!!**