News Story

Mormon Tabernacle Choir Performs Handel's 'Messiah' in Easter Concerts

Live stream on Good Friday to worldwide audience 

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square presented Handel’s “Messiah” in its entirety this Easter season to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ with Christians around the world. A concert was held on Thursday, March 24, and another performance is set for Good Friday, March 25, 2016, in the historic Salt Lake Tabernacle. Tickets to the performances have already been distributed, but Friday’s concert will be live streamed over the Internet on the choir's website and YouTube channel. It will also be broadcast via satellite to meetinghouses of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The live concert begins on Friday at 7:30 p.m. MDT. It will also be available online after the concert through April 4.

The concerts are being conducted by Mack Wilberg, music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, who added his unique touch to the masterpiece that is performed by the 360-voice choir and 150-member symphony orchestra, a much larger group of musicians than Handel may have envisioned.

The choir and orchestra is joined by four Metropolitan Opera soloists, including Erin Morley, soprano; Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano; Paul Appleby, tenor; and Joseph Barron, bass. The soloists are positioned on stage in front of the orchestra to sing their parts in the 53-movement oratorio. An oratorio is the telling of a sacred story without costumes, scenery or dramatic action.

It was a beautiful spring evening for Thursday night's performance. The women choir members wore lavender dresses and the men were in black tuxedos. The enthusiastic audience gave the choir and orchestra standing ovations. The "Hallelujah" chorus was described as "stunning." Flowers, including Easter lilies, decorated the stage.

In 1741, George Frideric Handel accepted a commission for a benefit concert in Dublin, Ireland. He composed the 260-page work heralding the life of Jesus Christ in just 23 days. 

Using the live stream, various community, music and church groups are joining their voices with the choir, singing “Messiah” at various locations throughout the world. Some venues are planning charity events, just as Handel did for performances in the 1750s for the Foundling Hospital in London.

One of the events will be held at a junior high school in Butte, Montana, which is expected to draw a regional audience. "The ‘Messiah’ Sing is one more way to connect the interfaith community in southwest Montana,” said Mitch Staley, a member of the Church who is helping organize the activity. “Not only are we able to come together to socialize and get to know each other better, but we can come together and worship Christ together. I can't even begin to describe how powerful this event will be and how much it could help our area come together as a community for future interfaith projects." Donations gathered at the school will benefit the Butte Rescue Mission and the Butte Food Bank.

Other interfaith venues on Friday include the Gesa Power House Theatre in Walla Walla, Washington, and the Catamount Arts Center in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, a partnership with the North Congregational Church.

The choir is providing resources such as a downloadable file of the concert program with lyrics and historical information to assist participants with the “Messiah” sing experience. 

Participants are encouraged to post their pictures and share their experiences on social media with #MessiahLive. A compendium of photos and posts from “Messiah” events will be posted at, where participants can download a participation certificate.

Earlier this month, choir fans were invited to sing Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus in the world’s largest virtual Hallelujah choir by uploading their recordings on YouTube. Many of the 2,500 submissions are featured in a video that was released on March 13. So far, the virtual choir video has received 1.3 million views on social media.

The concerts coincide with the choir’s release of a new recording of Handel’s “Messiah” in two versions: the complete oratorio version on 2 CDs with a bonus DVD and a 60-minute highlights version.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square serve as a musical ambassadors for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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