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Tabernacle Choir postpones resumption of rehearsals due to surging COVID-19 cases

SHARE Tabernacle Choir postpones resumption of rehearsals due to surging COVID-19 cases
The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square’s expected return to rehearsals after a 17-month delay due to COVID-19 has been postponed.

The Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square perform during The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ First Presidency Christmas Devotional at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019. The choir has not performed or rehearsed together since March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s planned return to rehearsals next week has been postponed by another surge in COVID-19 cases.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square will meet together Thursday for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.

But the choir won’t rehearse.

Six days before the choir’s first planned practice in nearly 18 months, choir leaders announced Friday that a surge in COVID-19 cases in Utah would delay the resumption of rehearsals.

The decision was made in consultation with Bishop Gérald Caussé and the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to a news release issued Friday.

The announcement characterized the delay as brief, which means the choir still could prepare to perform Oct. 2-3 at the church’s 191st Semiannual General Conference.

The choir still will meet on Thursday at the Tabernacle for a private devotional that will include the Orchestra at Temple Square, the Bells at Temple Square and professional and volunteer staff. Seating will be physically distanced with masks required. Those who wish can attend virtually.

Friday’s release included several other announcements:

  • Choir leaders are consulting with “a distinguished team of scientists, physicians and public health experts” to create “a detailed set of policies and operating procedures” called the Choir COVID Plan. “Choir leaders anticipate that online training in Choir COVID Plan procedures will be conducted in early to mid-September with the implementation of these procedures shortly thereafter to permit resumption of rehearsals for planned choir participation in the church’s October general conference.”
  • The devotional will celebrate the service of outgoing choir president Ron Jarrett and his wife, Lucie.
  • The choir will be introduced to new choir president Mike Leavitt and his wife, Jacalyn, who will serve in a new role as the president’s companion.
  • The choir also will announce and introduce two counselors to Leavitt, creating, for the first time, a full choir presidency.
  • The daily organ recitals, which resumed in July, will continue.
  • The return to live broadcasts of “Music & the Spoken Word” will be reevaluated in coming weeks alongside decisions about restarting rehearsals for the choir, orchestra and Bells on Temple Square.

“The health and safety of The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square organization members and its audiences is the highest priority for the leadership of the choir,” Friday’s news release said. “Given the community-wide surge in COVID cases and in consultation with (church leaders), choir leaders have decided to briefly delay the resumption of choir rehearsals that was scheduled to begin on Thursday, August 26.”