“I know what it’s like to sit in those choir seats and give of yourself through your music,” he said. “I have felt the fatigue of a long choir tour. I know how it drains you physically, spiritually and emotionally. I want to make sure everything we do helps them use their talents to reach out to our audience. I never want to lose touch with what choir members are experiencing. I never want to take for granted the sacrifice they are making to be in the choir.”
Jarrett says he has “tremendous respect” for the history and tradition of what he calls “the Lord’s choir.” But while he wants to support and build upon the “great, masterful, articulate” work done throughout the choir’s 165-year history, he is also interested in moving the choir forward in new and different directions.
“We’re still growing, and we need to grow,” he said. “We’re going to expand and reach out to every person we can possibly reach through our music. We’ve got to explore the opportunities available to us through the Internet, through improved satellite communications and through I don’t know all of the possibilities that are out there.”
And that may mean expanding the 360-voice choir’s musical mix, which has traditionally drawn from the sacred, classical, folk, popular and musical theater genres.
“I want to be on the young adult playlist,” Jarrett said, his face and body alive with energy and enthusiasm for the subject. “They want fun music, exciting music, uplifting music. We’ve got to find ways to reach young people musically.”
So can we look forward to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” being sung to the accompaniment of the Beatboxers at Temple Square?
“We may not be ready for hip-hop,” Jarrett said, smiling. “But if we can find something with a beat, some folk music, something that will be positive and motivating, we ought to take a look at it.”
And how does Mack Wilberg, musical director for the choir, feel about that?
“He told me he’d keep an open mind,” Jarrett said.
The objective, he said, will always be to keep the choir moving forward in its mission to lift people’s souls through music.
“We exist to carry the hope and tradition that the international language of music offers to all cultures, all ethnic groups, all generations throughout the world,” Jarrett said. “Good music, beautifully presented, makes you feel something. It touches the heart in a way that nothing else can. The love and hope that music brings can make your life better.”
And that, he said, is what the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has always been about — and will always be about, as long as he has anything to say about it.
“The choir exists to bless the lives of people,” he said. “My job is to make sure we’re exploring every opportunity to share the blessing of Mormon Tabernacle Choir music with the world.”
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