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Mormon Tabernacle Choir joining forces with renowned Deutsche Grammophon for new album

Published: Tuesday, May 14 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

Conductor Mack Wilberg during recording sessions for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's new album. Wilberg arranged 10 new pieces for the upcoming record.

Courtesy of Kim Farah

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Deutsche Grammophon, Europe's leading classical music recording label, joined forces the week of May 6 at the Salt Lake Tabernacle to record a new album.

Slated for a September 2013 international release, the record will feature the vocal talent of Bryn Terfel, one of the world’s leading baritones. Terfel previously worked with the choir in a Christmas concert in 2003 and again in 2007 when the Salt Lake Tabernacle reopened.

This is the first time the choir has released an album through an international label, said Mormon Tabernacle Choir President Ron Jarrett.

Jarrett, who was installed as president of what's been called "America’s Choir" in August 2012, said that one of his goals and responsibilities was to get the choir released internationally. This collaboration is a fulfillment of that goal.

“We are bringing together two very strong organizations," Jarrett said. "When the final product comes out, it will be under the label of Deutsche Grammophon, but it will carry the name of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir."

Deutsche Grammophon, based out of Berlin, is a part of Universal Music Group. It was founded in 1898, and for more than 100 years has sought to become a leading producer in classical music, according to the Deutshe Grammophon website.

Currently, the recording company has an international network that boasts operating organizations in more than 40 countries.

More than a year ago, Mark Wilkinson, president of Deutsche Grammophon, had entertained the idea of a recording with the choir, which is affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Meanwhile, Ute Fesquet, vice president of artists and repertoire for Deutsche Grammophon, who had been introduced to the choir by Terfel, had been brainstorming ideas for a possible sacred album.

Wilkinson approached her with his idea.

“From there, it was basically putting one and one together,” Fesquet said.

In September 2012 the two organizations began preparations for the collaboration. Jarrett met with representatives from Deutsche Grammophon, including Fesquet, and said from there, the whole process seemed to flow.

One of Deutsche Grammophon’s goals is to create projects for an international market. One way it hopes to do that is through a term called "sponsoring markets," which according to Fesquet are markets that embrace a project because of the artists— such as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Fesquet said she is confidant consumers will embrace the project based on the fame and notoriety of the choir alone.

“I am totally convinced that we will be able to bring (the album) to more people than (the choir) normally reaches and we normally reach,” Fesquet said.

The album, which highlights the Welsh heritage of the choir, will feature approximately 20 songs, 10 of which are new arrangements by Mack Wilberg.

Emmilie Buchanan is an intern for the Deseret News with Mormon Times. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho. Contact her at ebuchanan@deseretnews.com

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