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LDS Church's Mormon Tabernacle Choir launches YouTube channel

SALT LAKE CITY — Accompanied by the video-recorded strains of "Halleluia!" from Handels "Messiah," officers of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir announced Tuesday the choirs latest venture into the brave new world of social media.

The launch of the choir's own YouTube channel was proclaimed "a historic event" in a multimedia presentation at the Conference Center Theater in Salt Lake City. It was attended by an audience of invited guests that included high school and college choral students who afterward had a question-and-answer session with associate music director Ryan T. Murphy.

The event was streamed live on the Internet to Facebook fans around the


President Thomas S. Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was featured in the first of several recorded congratulatory tributes presented on a large, high-definition television screen in the theater.

Declaring his love for the choir's music, the church president said, "As you know, the choir always reserves for me a front-row seat at all of their concerts. As the adviser to the choir, I have the opportunity to work with these talented musicians on all of their musical endeavors, including their reason for gathering here today."

He then announced the launch of the YouTube channel, adding, "The incredible music of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is now at your fingertips."

Other luminaries giving recorded congratulations included artists the choir has performed with in the past, such as Katherine Jenkins, Nathan Gunn, Donny and Marie Osmond, Tom Brokaw, Michael York, Edward Herrmann and Alex Boye.

A choir member and a solo recording artist in his own right, Boye quipped, "I'm most importantly excited to see the Tabernacle Choir get more hits than Justin Bieber."

Murphy told the audience that by launching the channel, "the choir is going global and taking a giant leap forward into the digital age."

Murphy said the channel technically went online a couple of weeks ago to a private audience so it could be tweaked and readied for Tuesdays public release. A video recording of producers pressing the computer button for that soft launch was then shown. To the delight of audience members, it was followed by the choir singing "Halleluia!"

Ron Jarrett, newly appointed choir president, said, "The exciting thing to me about this whole opportunity is that anyone anytime anywhere can tune in to hear the great sound of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and watch these exciting videos that we have put up."

He added, "Music transcends all cultures and all generations, and it makes

it possible for people to feel something special in the heart as they

watch and listen."

A soon-to-be-released video that will be available on the channel was shown for the first time, featuring Boye and the choir singing "I Want Jesus to Walk with Me." Jarrett said it was shot in Ghana at the Cape Castle, "the launching point, if you will, of the ships that carried the slaves from Africa to the United States." Scenes of Boye singing at the seacoast were interspersed with him soloing with the choir in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

Jarrett said the new YouTube site features 30 other music videos, all in high definition.

usic director Mac Wilberg announced what choir officers termed the most important aspect of the new venture, that "Music and the Spoken Word," the choirs 84-year-old radio and television program, will be featured on the YouTube channel.

Connecting the past with the present, Wilberg told of the program's first broadcast back in 1929, when the KSL Radio crew ran a wire from its broadcasting station more than a block away to the tabernacle to carry the

program. The choir's 19-year-old announcer, Ted Kimball, mounted a stepladder to access the single microphone that carried the broadcast.

"Since then, over 4,300 episodes have been aired," Wilberg said, adding that with the YouTube venture, audiences can now access the program whenever they like anytime and anywhere.

"We'll upload new episodes each week, and additionally, new episodes will be archived here as well," he said.

The new YouTube channel can be accessed at

Fans may subscribe to receive regular updates via email when new content is added to the channel.

Though the newest, this is not the choir's first experience with social media. It has a Facebook page with nearly 250,000 fans and a Twitter account with 10,000 followers.