Former Tabernacle Choir Director Jerold Ottley Dies At Age 86
Feb 19, 2021, 6:45 PM | Updated: 6:58 pm
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Jerold Ottley, who directed The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square for almost 25 years, died Friday at the age of 86.
“The Choir would not be what it is today without Jerold Ottley’s contributions for a quarter of a century. He was a visionary who put in place protocols that refined the Choir organization and ensured its future success,” said Choir President Ron Jarrett, who sang as a tenor under Ottley’s hand.
Ottley’s tenure included 1,300 “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcasts, 30 commercial recordings, more than 20 major tours around the world and thousands of rehearsals and performances.
Choir representatives said Ottley worked hard to improve the Choir, both organizationally and technically.
“Under the direction of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints President Spencer W. Kimball, Ottley developed a professional sound for the all-volunteer choir, emphasizing music fundamentals, including harmony, diction and pitch,” they said.
After performing under Ottley at President Ronald Regan’s inauguration in 1981, they were dubbed “America’s Choir.”
“Jerold Ottley was not only a wonderful musician but a great person who, like those before him, laid a foundation for today’s Choir,” current Choir director Mack Wilberg said. “His legacy is a gold thread in the tapestry of the Choir’s past, present and future.”
Ottley instituted a retirement policy, attendance policy, structured audition procedures and seating arrangements for choir members.
He also revised the choral library database for the Choir’s more than 800,000 pieces of sheet music.
Ottley was born on April 7, 1934, in Murray, Utah to Sidney and Alice Ottley.
He completed a master’s degree in choral conducting at the University of Utah before receiving a Fulbright grant to the Academy of Music in Cologne, West Germany, along with his wife.
Ottley then received his doctorate from the University of Oregon.