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Tabernacle Choir members miss singing together

FILE - In this Oct. 5, 2019, file photo, The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square perform during The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' twice-annual church conference in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — Stephanie Wood went from singing two to six days a week with the Tabernacle Choir, to practicing alone at home or in her car.

“I miss singing in a group,” she said over the phone.

Wood is the alto choir leader and has been in the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square for almost 20 years.

“We are not meeting in any way.”

This weekend’s 190th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will again have no live audience, and no live singing.

tabernacle choir pandemic

Photo: Stephanie Wood

Having two back-to-back digital conferences is a first for the church. But modern technology means the choir will still be a part of it.

“95% of everything we do has a microphone in front of it. Almost everything we do is preserved, and much of it also with cameras,” said music director Mack Wilberg recently.

April’s general conference had recordings from previous conferences. Recorded performances also air every Sunday on “Music and the Spoken Word.”

Wood uses the opportunity to sing along, and watch for glimpses of herself and her friends on TV.

“It’s fun to watch the different hair styles I’ve had, and remember the wonderful experiences we’ve had,” she said.

tabernacle choir pandemic

Screen grab from Tabernacle Choir broadcast by Stephanie Wood

The choir has missed conferences before. For example, from 1885 to 1887, Logan, Provo and Coalville hosted the conference, and local choirs and the congregation sang instead.

In October 1955, the choir was returning from a European tour and did not sing at general conference.

And in 1957, a flu epidemic canceled the October general conference.

For now, the choir sends out a weekly email and shares vocal exercises and other music for the singers to use.

“We know we are not meeting at all this year, but we are hopeful for 2021,” said Wood. “It’s my responsibility to make sure I’m ready for when we do come back.”

KSL will carry all four sessions of general conference live on 102.7 FM and 1160 AM or via the KSL NewsRadio app. In addition, we have hours of special content airing before, after and in between sessions. Click here for the programming schedule