RELIGION

First Presidency Names New President Of Tabernacle Choir At Temple Square

Aug 6, 2021, 11:00 AM | Updated: 8:01 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — After a long break due to the coronavirus pandemic, The Tabernacle Choir at Temple is scheduled to begin rehearsals again in late August.

When the singers return, they will have a new president.

“I don’t think that I’ll be recruited for the baritone or the bass section!” said former Utah Governor, Michael Leavitt.

He said that the call came as a pleasant surprise, but will be a lovely experience for former First Lady, Jackie Leavitt, who is an accomplished musician.

Leavitt has considerable leadership experience, having served three terms as Utah Governor and twice in President George W. Bush’s cabinet — first as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and then as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

He also organized Leavitt Partners, a business that advises clients in the health care sector.

As president, his role will be to supervise the 700 volunteers who serve in the choir organization.

“The organization that surrounds the choir is quite surprisingly large. It’s not just the choir, it also includes the Orchestra at Temple Square, the Bells, and another ensemble, which is basically a training choir,” said Leavitt.

Since March 2020, the choir seats have been empty — the pandemic having halted all events on Temple Square.

Now, as things open, Leavitt will lead during a transitional period.

“A global Church needs a global choir and the world needs what the choir provides,” he said.

On Sept. 19, “Music and the Spoken Word” will broadcast live once again, and the choir will sing during three sessions of General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in October.

“The brand of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square is very strong and highly respected,” said Leavitt.

In his new position, the former governor will lead a presidency that will oversee all the administrative components of the choir.

“My job will be to align that with the Church’s mission to be able to expose it to much larger global audiences and to harness the tools of digitization to do that,” he said.

Leavitt was called to his new position by Church President Russell M. Nelson.

“And he told me that most of all, he wanted the choir to be aligned with the broader mission of the Church. And I interpret that to mean that we should continue to produce great music that stimulates the hearts and minds and the spirits of the people worldwide, so that they can feel the things that are required for them to be nurtured in spiritual and personal terms,” said Leavitt.

KSL’s Carole Mikita asked what his greatest hope going forward is as he steps into this new role.

With emotion, he said, “The choir, for me, has always been a conduit of deep spiritual feelings. And it’s my aspiration that the world could have the benefit of that.”

Leavitt replaces Ron Garrett, who served as choir president since August 2012. His two new counselors in this new presidency will be announced later. The choir members learned of the change in presidency this morning from Bishop Gerald Causse, the advisor to the choir.

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First Presidency Names New President Of Tabernacle Choir At Temple Square