“Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Friends” (CD reviewed by Elizabeth White)

Review
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Title: Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Friends
Artists: Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Angela Lansbury, Santino Fontana, James Taylor, David Foster, Sissel, the King’s Singers
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Genre: Contemporary Music
Year Published: 2017
Audio CD
ASIN: (UPC) 7 83027 02202 5
Price: $8.96

Reviewed by Elizabeth White for the Association for Mormon Letters

If you only think of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as singing in April and October LDS General Conferences, the latest CD will open your eyes and ears to the sheer breadth of the Choir’s musical range. “Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Friends” is the newest audio CD from “America’s Choir,” showcasing eleven performances by some of the biggest names in music as they perform with the choir and the Utah Symphony at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. The selections demonstrate a vast variety of musical styles from devotional to crossover pop to Broadway hits and each one is simply stunning.

There is music for every occasion as this CD demonstrates. It can communicate emotions that are deep, personal, or intense. It is one experience to sing or say the word “Hallelujah”; it is another experience to hear a group, say the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, sing the anthem, “Hallelujah Chorus” by Handel, and an entirely different experience to be part of the group that is singing together. Emotions encoded with music can last a lifetime.

Music crosses all boundaries, borders and differences humans can construct. It is truly the universal language. “Fragile,” performed live by Sting and Yo-Yo Ma for the opening of the 2002 Winter Olympics, was televised to an audience of three and a half billion viewers. It was unifying as the world joined in. “The Prayer,” played by guest pianist David Foster, and “Thy Word,” sung by Amy Grant, express their devotion to God and their conviction of His saving grace.

Music can transmit energy and alter one’s heartbeat. “Through Heaven’s Eyes” is my favorite among a list of favorites. Brian Stokes Mitchell is without equal. The choir sings energizing lyrics that make you feel like you are in the midst of a Middle Eastern celebration. Hard to listen to that one without starting to tap toes or hum along. I would not have guessed a tambourine could be coupled with the choir, but it works great. The energy shifts when James Taylor, an iconic musician whose career has crossed five decades, sings “That Lonesome Road.”

Somehow music carries memories that help us recall special moments or people. For example, Angela Lansbury, as Mrs. Potts, singing, “Beauty and the Beast” from the 1991 Disney animated classic, absolutely takes me back to a specific time and place.

Music fosters connections and friendships. Each song is like a visit from a friend – Santino Fontana (Disney’s “Frozen”), a frequent guest, and The King’s Singers love every opportunity to perform with the choir. Guest artists from around the world have remarked on the unique and distinctive qualities that members of the choir exude and the unique music that the choir is able to produce.

The “Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Friends” celebrates music, life, and enduring friendships.

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