News Release

Sissel Joins Tabernacle Choir for Pioneer Day Performances

Norwegian-born vocalist sings in Conference Center

World-renowned vocalist Sissel is celebrating the spirit of the pioneers during performances with the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square. The annual Pioneer Day concert commemorates the arrival of Latter-day Saint pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847 — 172 years ago.

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Thousands gathered in the Conference Center Friday night to enjoy “Music for a Summer Evening” with the Norwegian-born vocalist whose career has spanned more than 30 years. She is known for her ethereal arias throughout the Oscar-winning film “Titanic.”

The choir and orchestra began the concert with “The Handcart Song,” which describes the westward trek of the pioneers across the United States, followed by a rendition of “Faith in Every Footstep.”

Sissel took the stage with “Like an Angel Passing Through My Room.”

"It is wonderful to be here with you, and this inspiring choir and orchestra," she said. "Coming back to Salt Lake City, I've learned, this time, a little about the pioneers who came from the Nordic and the Scandinavian countries, including my homeland, Norway."

Other selections Sissel performed included “Eatnemen Vuelie (Song of the Earth),” a song inspired by Norwegian culture; “Eg Veit I Himmerik Ie Borg (Castle in the Sky)”; and “Hymn to Freedom.”

"This week, as I've heard about the amazing pioneers who came here, I've learned that they sought freedom to make a new home," said Sissel. "Happy Pioneer Day, everyone."

Sissel received a standing ovation for her performance of "Slow Down."

The English folk tune “Thou Gracious God, Whose Mercy Lends” was the final song of the evening.

A second performance will be held Saturday night at 8 p.m. Complimentary tickets have already been distributed for the concert, but a standby line will be formed for those seeking last-minute seats. The line will form at 6:30 p.m. at the north gate on Temple Square.

Saturday’s concert will also be streamed on and carried live over the Church satellite system. In addition, the concert will air on BYUtv Sunday, July 21, at 5 p.m., 9 p.m. and midnight (Mountain Daylight Time).

Sissel will also join the choir for “Music and the Spoken Word” at 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning. No tickets are required for the 30-minute live broadcast originating from the Conference Center. Patrons should be in their seats by 9:15 a.m.

Mack Wilberg, music director of the choir, and Ryan Murphy, associate music director, are conducting the concerts.

While in Salt Lake City, Sissel is also recording with the choir for a future project. 

Choir fans will remember Sissel’s performances at the 2006 Christmas concerts on Temple Square. The subsequent CD, “Spirit of the Season” (2007), was No. 1 on Billboard’s classical chart for nine weeks and was nominated for two Grammy Awards: best classical crossover album and best engineered classical album.

Sissel can also be found on two other recordings with the choir and orchestra: “Homeward Bound” with Bryn Terfel (2013) and “Mormon Tabernacle Choir & Friends” (2017).

Recent guest artists for the Pioneer Day concerts have included Matthew Morrison and Laura Michelle Kelly (2018), Alex Boyé (2017), The King’s Singers (2016), Laura Osnes (2015) and Santino Fontana (2014).

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