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International members to join Tabernacle Choir in singing at General Conference

Mar 30, 2023, 1:17 PM

For the first time in its 175-year history, participants living outside the United States will join...

For the first time in its 175-year history, participants living outside the United States will join the Tabernacle Choir during the 193rd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Intellectual Reserve, Inc.)

(Intellectual Reserve, Inc.)

SALT LAKE CITY — For the first time ever, singers from all over the world will join the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square during the 193rd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“It’s just … it’s a dream come true. It’s just like — wow!” said Georgina Montemayor Wong, who lives in the eastern Mexican city of Monterrey.

Georgina Montemayor Wong smiles during her vocal assessment at the Salt Lake Tabernacle on March 20, 2023. International participants from several countries will sing with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square during the April 2023 general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Montemayor Wong lives in Monterrey, Mexico. (Intellectual Reserve, Inc.)

According to a news release from the Church, 10 members located in six different countries were selected to participate in the pilot program.

Those members include:

  • Alvaro Jorge Martins of Natal, Brazil
  • Rodrigo Domaredzky of Curitiba, Brazil
  • Thalita De Carvalho of Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Tubo-Oreriba Joseph Elisha of Accra, Ghana
  • Jonathan How of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Denisse Elorza Avalos of Tijuana, Mexico
  • Georgina Montemayor Wong of Monterrey, Mexico
  • Ronald Baa of Cagayan de Oro, Philippines
  • Sundae Mae Indino of Cagayan de Oro, Philippines
  • PeiShang Chung (Kylie Zhong) of Taipei, Taiwan

Rodrigo Domaredzky of Curitiba, Brazil. Rodrigo sings baritone. He is an architect and has been singing since his youth. He currently volunteers as a stake music specialist for his local congregation. The photograph was taken during a vocal assessment on March 20, 2023. (Intellectual Reserve, Inc.)

Since Dec. 2022, the international singers have been preparing for the upcoming performances

“I still can’t believe that I’m going to sing with the Choir,” Montemayor Wong said. “We know it’s impossible for those of us who do not live there. So it’s only a dream very, very far away, like you cannot even think about it.”

Choir President Michael O. Leavitt said the Choir is trying to reach a more global audience, which is why the pilot program was introduced.

“Our goal now is to reach throughout the world to bring peace and healing. More than half the membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lives outside the United States. This is a means by which we not only reflect that membership, but it’s also a way in which we can bring a sense of belonging to people who live all over the world,” Leavitt said.

Michael O. Leavitt, president of The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, attends a Choir rehearsal at the Salt Lake Tabernacle on March 9, 2023. President Leavitt said the Choir’s new pilot program is part of a broadened mission to reach a global audience. (Intellectual Reserve, Inc.)

The pilot program participants were required to demonstrate proficiency in music theory and English, as well as have good vocal skills, according to the release.

“In addition to their participation, each Choir member is called to be an ambassador for the Church of Jesus Christ, to share their goodwill and faith through music,” the release added.

Jonathan How of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Jonathan sings first tenor. He received a bachelor’s degree in music and is a drum teacher. The photograph was taken on March 20, 2023. (Intellectual Reserve, Inc.)

Denisse Elorza Avalos, of Tijuana, Mexico, said, “When they told me … that I’m going to be like a missionary for the Choir, I [felt] so humble because I always wanted to serve a mission. Now it’s like two dreams in one — be part of the Choir and serve like a missionary.”

Elorza Avalos said she was surprised and excited to learn her sister-in-law — Georgina Montemayor Wong — was also selected to sing with the Choir.

“I felt so happy,” she said.

The international singers arrived in Salt Lake City the weekend of March 18-20. Church officials said they joined the Choir rehearsals, attended Choir school, toured the Church’s Welfare Square and Bishop’s Central Storehouse, visited several Church historical sites, and toured Temple Square.

On Friday, March 25, the group sang two hymns for President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency and his wife, Kristen M. Oaks, at the Church Office Building.

President Dallin H. Oaks,of the First Presidency and his wife, Kristen M. Oaks, spent time with the global participants. President and Sister Oaks are pictured with the group on Friday, March 25, in the Church Office Building. (Intellectual Reserve, Inc.)

“It is a very important step forward,” President Oaks said to the new participants. “It’s something I hoped for many years could happen but it’s very difficult. You make sacrifices — all of you — to be here.”

“People all over the world are going to be proud that the Tabernacle Choir is not just a Choir for Utah and Salt Lake City but it’s a Choir representing the whole world,” he added.

You can catch the singers perform with the Tabernacle Choir during the Saturday morning session of general conference, as well as the two sessions on Sunday.

Learn more about the pilot program and international participants here.

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International members to join Tabernacle Choir in singing at General Conference