Mormon Tabernacle Choir wins first Emmy in 26 years; YouTube channel gets 5M views in first year

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 5 2013 10:20 p.m. MST

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir's YouTube channel garnered more than 5 million views in its first year.

Mormon Tabernacle Choir

SALT LAKE CITY — The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has won an Emmy for the first time in 26 years, adding another major milestone in a remarkable year for the choir.

Yet another achievement came last week when the choir's YouTube channel celebrated its first birthday by drawing more than 5 million views in its first year. Choir leaders are excited that much of that traffic came from international audiences it can track through statistics provided by YouTube that include some surprising information.

Those developments are aligned with the choir's goals to expand its international reach, attract younger audiences and reflect well on the LDS Church.

The choir released a new infographic on Pinterest about its YouTube numbers. YouTube.com/mormontabchoir drew 5,045,535 views in its first year for 612 uploaded videos, including interviews, specials and the weekly broadcasts of "Music and the Spoken Word."

The channel also collected 42,109 "likes" and viewers from 226 countries.

"We do want to reach a huge audience," choir president Ron Jarrett said. "We want to take our music to everyone in the world who has access to a medium such as the Internet. We believe our music speaks to all of their hearts, whether they speak English or not. Our music will speak to their hearts, and then they can be touched by the Spirit, and that can then lead to a happier life, more joy, fulfillment, resolution of problems. We can be a means to bring a greater amount of joy and peace to the world, and we'll do that one song at a time."

The most popular video, by far, was "Bring Him Home," from "Les Miserables," which the choir performed with Alfie Boe. A David Archuleta song was second.

The choir hopes to use those YouTube analytical tools to better target growth.

"One thing we find is the choir is a place where people turn on (big) occasions," choir general manager Scott Barrick said. "We had a huge spike on our Facebook and YouTube pages at 9/11 (this year). Our biggest spike during the year is at Christmas, but at other holidays, too. People seem to associate the music of the choir with moments in their lives that they want to reinforce with these feelings that come through music, of peace and joy and contentment. Those are things we've learned from YouTube that we are trying to accentuate as we move forward."

Barrick said the percentage of the YouTube audience that is international has grown throughout the past year, and that international audience skews younger.

That's music to the ears of Jarrett, who relentlessly pursues his goal of reaching younger audiences. That's been done this year via marketing and distribution, such as the YouTube channel, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, and concerts with younger artists, like the Pioneer concert in July when YouTube darling and hiphop violinist Lindsey Stirling and singer Nathan Pacheco — both BYU alumni — joined the choir.

The regional Emmy for "Special Event Coverage (other than news or sports) — Live or Edited," was awarded to choir director Mack Wilberg and six BYU broadcasting executives for their TV broadcast of "The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Presents the Joy of Song" with crossover artist Katherine Jenkins, who also was the runner-up on the 2012 edition of "Dancing with the Stars."

It is the choir's second Emmy. The first came in 1987 for a Christmas special featuring opera singer Shirley Verrett.

"It's a wonderful pleasure for us to get another Emmy," Barrick said. "It's been awhile, even longer, since we've won a Grammy, but we continue to have both as objectives."

The choir's big 2013 has roots in 2012, when it was named the No. 1 billboard classical recording artist for 2012 and recorded its Christmas concert, "Home for the Holidays," with Alfie Boe and Tom Brokaw. That concert has just been released in DVD and CD formats. And a children's book, "Christmas from Heaven: The True Story of the Berlin Candy Bomber," is also available in stores.

2013 has also seen the choir:

— launch a new website, www.mormontabernaclechoir.org

— record a new CD in May with British bass-baritone Bryn Terfel, "Homeward Bound." A joint venture with Deutsche Grammophon, the CD was released in September

— conduct its six-city tour as well as the Stirling/Pacheco concert over the summer

— reach a new audience through two special concerts with James Taylor in September.

All that and the choir still has its 2013 Christmas concerts ahead, with soprano Deborah Voigt and British actor John Rhys-Davies ("Indiana Jones" and "Lord of the Rings").

Jarrett and Barrick already are looking ahead to 2014, when they hope to unveil an app for the choir, a new revision of the website, new recordings, a BYUtv special of the James Taylor concert and more.

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