It's the 10-year anniversary of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's first launch into cyberspace, and the church has completed its first major upgrade to the Choir's website. The site has a host of new features and takes advantage of several technological advancements. It brings a crisper, more engaging experience right to fans' fingertips. Take a peek at mormontabernaclechoir.org.
The look of the website is completely different and resembles the church's flagship site, lds.org. The site has better key word searches, responsive design for viewing on mobile devices and better integration with other church websites. It also has better back-end analytics that will enable the choir staff to improve the "user experience" of visitors over time.
"One of the key messages from the choir is that it crosses cultural and generational boundaries," said Scott Barrick, general manager of the choir. "We know that not everyone can live in Salt Lake and listen to the choir live whenever they want. We want to share the choir with everyone wherever they are with our website."
With a presence on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, the Choir is reaching out to fans around the globe with social media. Kim Farah with church public affairs said, "The choir was given the moniker 'America's Choir,' but in the age of new media, it might really be called the world's choir. The website is just one of the many ways of connecting with people."
The "About Us" section on the site is greatly expanded with more information, facts and details about each of the choir organizations — the choir, the orchestra and the bell ensemble. Fans can also find out more about the history of the choir, its purpose and how it has evolved over the years. There is a treasure trove of visual assets from the choir that will be shared on the site, including information about all of the guest artists who have performed over the years.
A new feature on the site is the newsroom. "As we go on tour, this is a page that the news media will frequent for press releases, bios on choir leaders and high resolution photographs," said Barrick. "It also shows what others are saying about the choir from news outlets all over the web." A new expanded calendar section alerts fans about upcoming events and concerts.
The new "Shop" section of the website contains a listing of every song produced on the choir's own record label as well as nearly all of the choir's albums in its 100-year recording history. For example, the all-time best-selling album produced on the choir's own record label is "Consider the Lilies." It has sold more than 350,000 copies. Thirty-second samples of this and many of the choir's titles can be played right on the site with links to Amazon, iTunes, Deseret Book and store.lds.org to help fans acquire the music. A better search function also helps visitors find the songs they're looking for and what albums contain those songs.
An expanded "Blog" section will be populated by comments about the choir and orchestra. A feature acting like a giant web crawler can pull comments onto the page from anywhere on the web dealing with information on that particular web page, forming a discussion thread.
During the choir's tour this month, the blog section will highlight stories by choir and orchestra members. "We want to share our tour experience with people on the website," Barrick said. "There will be lots of photos and an essay each day from a choir member about what that day meant to them."
Members of the church love the choir and are proud of it, but the website was built for fans of the choir whether they are members of the church or not. Some fans love the choir but are not interested in religion. Barrick said, "A woman I met in the Southern United States said, 'Look, honey, when it comes to my religion, I'm Episcopalian through and through, but when it comes to my music, I'm all Mormon Tabernacle Choir.' That woman should feel comfortable on the site and enjoy it regardless of her religious affiliation."
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square will visit six cities in America's heartland June 12 through June 20. This is their first visit to the upper Midwest since 2007. The tour will include stops in Columbus, Indianapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and Minneapolis. (For information about tickets, go to mormontabernaclechoir.org and click on Concerts and Events.)
When the choir gets back from the tour, fans are in for more exciting performances. LDS artists Lindsey Stirling and Nathan Pacheco will perform with the choir and Orchestra at Temple Square at the Pioneer Day concert on Friday and Saturday, July 19 and 20, at 8 p.m. in the Conference Center. On Friday and Saturday, Sept. 6 and 7, five-time Grammy Award-winning artist James Taylor will perform with the choir in the Conference Center.