The orchestra, soloists and choir of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir family worked diligently under the baton of Mack Wilberg to fashion the work according to best academic practices but infused with our own personal witnesses of the life and mission of the Lord and Savior of the World. And now, after a brief recovery period, we will be privileged to labor again to make a 2 CD recording of this glorious work.
Learning to master the Baroque period articulations for this oratorio was new and different for many of the singers and orchestral players of our organization. We have been used to singing and playing in a conventional choral mode with our own signature style. That has worked very well for us over the years and our fans have seemed to like it. But in order to sing the Baroque style melismas (decorated phrases with very fast running notes) with the agility and speed required, we needed to take the time to build up better endurance and accuracy.
Our conductor had us begin to work on these skills slowly by introducing more and more pieces requiring these articulations over the last few years. He had a master plan in mind, but did not tell us about it until he was feeling more secure that we could accomplish these skills. Once the recording project was announced many months ago, we were told we were preparing to run a marathon, and that we had better be diligent and put in the effort build up the endurance.
Many academics scoff at the idea that a very large choir could attempt and be successful singing Messiah for anything more than their own amusement. The oratorio was written for a small chorus of 20 to 30 singers (maximum) with a small compliment of players. According to them, "No big mass of singers can hope to have the agility and cohesion to pull it off." But over the years, some of the choruses of Handel's Messiah have been inextricably linked to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. If you asked people on the street, "Who sings the Hallelujah chorus?" they would undoubtedly answer, "The Mormon Tabernacle Choir."
True, we are not a small, tight, Baroque chorus of the British Cathedral tradition, but I think we are poised to give a very good accounting of ourselves in this recording. And what we have learned academically and vocally have become a part of us. But more importantly, our appreciation of this brilliant choral master work about the birth, passion, mission and resurrection of Jesus Christ and our part in making this work available for fans to hear and enjoy for years to come will be a treasured part of our lives forever.