SALT LAKE CITY — Members of The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square reunited at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City for their first in-person rehearsal in 19 months Tuesday night.
Choir leadership paused rehearsals, performances and recordings when the pandemic began in March 2020.
Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, the Choir organization’s new president and lead of the health-centered plan, said he wanted to make sure their returning to the stage is done right.
“COVID has now been with us for 18 months and our lives need to go on,” said Leavitt. “So, we’re looking for ways in which we can coexist with this virus, and the best way is to protect ourselves from it.”
A few days before the anticipated reunion, choir leaders announced a seven-step COVID-19 protection plan, calling for vaccinations and regular testing for all members.
Dr. James Sutherland, a Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Utah, is also a part of the Choir’s committee that put together the plan for the Choir’s safe return to singing. He said they are doing everything possible to prevent people from being infected.
“Before every event, every person that comes in the building will be tested for COVID,” said Sutherland. “And then there are other things that we’re doing, asking people to self-report if they have exposure, asking people to use caution in their everyday lives outside of Choir rehearsals, wearing masks outside of those situations as well.”
The plan will allow the Choir to sing at the October 2021 general conference. Half the Choir will sing in the Saturday morning session, and the other half in the Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon sessions. Music for the Saturday afternoon and evening session will be provided by other choirs who have pre-recorded their performances.
Rehearsals and performances of the Orchestra at Temple Square and the Bells at Temple Square will come later, as will live broadcasts of Music & the Spoken Word.