Between July 1st – November 2007 I went through the intense audition process with The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Yes, it really takes about 4 months from the time you put in your application to the day you get your “yea or nay” letter. This is my story.
First, I decided this had to be a secret.
Naturally, if I didn’t make the cut I would feel a bit embarrassed, and sad. But, I reasoned that worse than being rejected by the Choir would be knowing that everyone I knew also knew I’d been rejected. (Yikes!) However, if no one even knew, then I could just quietly go on with life as if nothing had ever happened! It was the perfect plan.
Thus, I swore my husband and kids to secrecy and off I went on my MoTab audition adventure.
Round One: The application & personal audition CD phase.
Check! A few weeks later, I received a letter saying I was advancing to the next round!
Round Two: The (intense) Music Skills and Music Theory test.
Check! The test was about two hours long (it felt longer). Despite my musical training and college degree I came out shaking my head thinking “wow…I really don’t think I got any of that right…”
But, a few weeks later a letter arrived saying I passed! So, I was advancing to the final round – the In-person Audition.
[By-the-way, for anyone interested, there's a link at the bottom of this post where you can read a lot more about The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Audition Process]
Whoo Hoo! Everything was now moving along swimmingly, with both the audition process and the secrecy…
On a lovely Fall day, a very nice reporter and a very nice photographer from The New York Times happened to have a flight lay-over in Salt Lake City. They learned that the annual In-Person auditions for a certain world-renown Choir were happening nearby, and eagerly secured an invitation to come sit-in for just an hour or so.
(You’re seeing where this is headed, right?)
Wouldn’t you just know it, they happened to arrive during the exact day and exact time period of my audition? Thus, two lovely NYC visitors sat quietly in the corner of the audition room (um…fairly quietly, other than that little camera click-click-clicking) during my nail-biting 10 minute “last-ditch” effort. Of course, my thoughts at the time were focused on the fact I was singing for two of the greatest conductors in the world (“please don’t mess up”)! Afterward, I remembered the little visitors, and naively thought to myself “well, even if those reporters do happen to mention me in their paper, who in Utah would ever find out, right?”
(I grossly underestimated the scope and reach of The New York Times)
A few days later, their article (and photo) was published on the front page of the Sunday Times religion section (due to our digital age, it’s still “there”).
The story goes that my mother was awakened by a breathless phone call at 5:00 am Mountain Time from my aunt living in Philadelphia.
Just in case Mom couldn’t reach every single one of my friends, family and slightest of acquaintances during the next 24 hours, the story was conveniently reprinted in our local paper the following day.
That pretty much cancelled my whole “secrecy” plan.
At least I could hold my head high and say I had made it through all three levels of the audition process! A lot of really amazing & really talented people don’t get that chance, and I was, and remain, eternally grateful for that.
My letter arrived a few days later.
When I finally got up the courage to open it, I cried.
Miraculously, they were “happy tears”. Relieved and humbled, I read I would now enter training school in preparation for full membership in the Choir. So, in January 2008 I began my Choir training as a member of The Temple Square Chorale. On Sunday May 25th, 2008 I became an official member of The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and began my volunteer service as a musical missionary.
That day in May was extra special, because my then-92 year old grandfather, WWII veteran Commander Dallis J. “Red” Christensen, was able to be there with me. Coincidentally, (or not really) it was Memorial Day weekend. So, the Choir’s program was appropriately patriotic and honored our heroes. You should know that Grandpa Red was always my greatest hero. And, ever since I was a young girl, Grandpa Red had dreamed for me to join the Tabernacle Choir. It took me a lot longer to audition for the Choir than he wanted, (and he was quite vocal about that)! So, I am eternally grateful that Grandpa not only lived to see the dream fulfilled, but also to live four and a half more years listening to me sing as a member of “his Choir”.
Praise the Lord, in Holy Songs of Joy!
Stay tuned for Part 2. – MoSop