Roadtrippin’ With The MoTab

Technology allows us to surround ourselves with music of our choosing any time we want.  The holiday season often means long drives in the car to visit relatives, and an iPod loaded with various kinds of music to fit the moods and tastes of the passengers can make the drive go quickly.  This past week has given me occasion to listen to many recordings from The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and also to listen to some of those same songs by other artists.  The purpose of this post is to describe the immediate, visceral reaction of the listeners to some of the MoTab songs, and also to speculate as to why this is a choir I both love and detest.When it comes to why the choir goes wrong, I think the biggest problem is that the choir tries to be all things to all people.  When I was six I got a little toolbox for Christmas, and the hammer immediately became my favorite toy.  There were so many things around the house which needed hammering!  The walls, the dining table, the legs of the piano, my father’s desk, a sibling’s fingers — so many things looked like a nail.  After an hour or so my parents couldn’t take it any longer and unjustly confiscated my hammer on some kind of trumped-up charges.  If we apply this lesson to the choir, it follows that a 350 voice choir backed by an organ with more than 11,000 pipes is good for some things and not so good for other things.  Like the little girl in the nursery rhyme, when the choir is good, it is very, very good, but when it is bad, it is horrid.

Much of the problem comes from bad choices of recording material.  I hesitate to say it, because it might give somebody ideas, but I’m afraid that right now some suit at Deseret Book is programming macros into his Excel spreadsheet, trying to figure out if he can make $0.02 by selling a recording of the choir wasting away again in Margaritaville, complete with steel pan drums.  Don’t laugh, they’ve already done worse.  Some music is meant to be sung by large, musically competent groups, and other music sounds better when sung by a single voice.  Why cannot the people in charge at the MoTab understand this?  Many of our mission presidents have built a hedge around the law and declared a fatwa on all non-MoTab music.  The result is that our missionaries now can satisfy their tastes for showtunes, country and western music, (U.S.) patriotic music and La Bamba (Yes!  La Bamba!) simply by listening to the choir, and they’ll never break a single rule.  FInally, the choir sometimes displays a really inexplicable cultural insensitivity, e.g. La Bamba, which grates on one’s ears and brings tears to one’s eyes, and not in a good way.  

We will begin first with the Rants, then go on to the Raves.

RANTS 

Ave Maria, but with the words changed to something about Heavenly Father — What fresh hell is this?  (Hereinafter, Wfhit?)  We respect Roman Catholics enough to appropriate their music, but not enough to quit diddling with the words?  People, this is a song about the worship of Mary, the Holy Mother of Christ.  Leave it alone, and don’t ever do anything like this again.  Ever.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow — Dude.  This song is only meant to be sung by Judy Garland.  And when most people think of Judy Garland and ruby slippers and rainbows, they’re not thinking about the MoTab.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  Cultural sensitivity FAIL.

Oh, Danny Boy — This song is meant for a tenor voice, with very simple accompaniment.  Whose idea was it to have it performed by 200 female voices with orchestral backing, and has this individual been given sufficient negative reinforcement that he never does this again?  On the plus side, at least they managed to say “Ave”.

Country and western songs — Concerning the MoTab contributions to this genre, the less said, the better.  It is enough to say that when I am jonesin’ for some Twang, I’ll turn to Lyle, Lefty, Merle, and Willie.  

Sinnuh, Please Don’ Let Dis Harves’ Pass —  Seriously?  SERIOUSLY?!?!?  Maybe this is some misbegotten attempt at solidarity with an oppressed people, as if our decade in Missouri and Nauvoo compares with 300 years of enforced bondage and slavery.  Maybe it is a failed effort at cultural outreach.  But who cares?  This steaming pile of whatever is one short half-step away from a minstrel show, and we ought to be ashamed.  This is awful.

Down to the River to Pray — A song that brings tears to my eyes in a good way when sung solo by Allison Krauss.  A song that brings tears to my eyes in a bad way when sung by the hundreds of women of the MoTab.  This melody is supposed to be simple and flowing, so why in the world would we do a complicated arrangement that is so choppy it is almost staccato?  Wfhit?

The Battle of New Orleans — Where to start?  There are so many things wrong with this.  Consider just these two verses:

Old Hick’ry said we could take ‘em by surprise
if we didn’t fire our muskets ’til we looked ‘em in the eyes.
We held our fire ’til we see’d their faces well,
then we opened up our squirrel guns and really gave ‘em Weeeellll, we fired our guns and the British kept a’ comin’, etc.  (chorus)

We fired our cannon ’til the barrel melted down
then we grabbed an alligator and we fought another round.
We filled his head with cannonballs and powdered his behind,
and when we touched the powder off the ‘gator lost his mind. (chorus)

I mean, what can you even say in the face of this disaster?  Words fail.  The written word cannot convey the horribleness of the song, not to mention the horribleness of the phony British accents the male voices have affected.  This song should only be sung in a roadside honky-tonk somewhere in the American south, by an unreconstructed redneck with a coonskin cap on his head and a banjo on his knee and a dip of chaw in his lip.  It should only be sung by a man who is literally incapable of enunciating standard English.  To all you high priests in suits and ties and all you Relief Society ladies in flowery dresses, please believe me when I tell you that you look and sound like dorks when you do stuff like this.

This Land is Your Land — This rousing, hand-clapping, toe-tapping anthem by the choir would normally pass muster, but on a day when just a half hour before I had heard a recording of the same song performed by Woody Guthrie, the man who wrote it, it needs to be singled out as inadequate.  Mormons often don’t sing all the verses, and in this case, the choir decided to leave out the verses which would upset the gentry, or the practitioners of Skousenheit.  Guthrie’s voice speaks to us from the depths of The Great Depression, and he is as one having a familiar spirit, which murmureth to us as a voice from the dust.

In the shadows of the steeple
by the Relief Office I saw my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there wond’ring
Is this land made for you and me?

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me
and on the sign it said “Private Property”,
but on the other side it didn’t say nothin’.
That side was made for you and me!

RAVES

In general, I like all the songs the choir does which belong to The Restoration.  Now Let Us Rejoice, Come, Come ye Saints, How Firm a Foundation and many others are like musical comfort food to me.  I enjoy them every time I hear them, even after many repetitions.  I don’t know how to explain why I feel better when I hear the choir sing Redeemer of Israel, Our Only delight!, but I do. 

A Mighty Fortress — Wow, the voices and the organ combine in a way that makes me think of the Cardston or Mesa temples.  Luther would approve.

When I Survey the Wond’rous Cross — Tears.  Good ones.

The Hallelujah Chorus — Grand and majestic.  I wore out this cassette tape on my mission and still can’t hear it enough.

Behold the Lilies — The last time I sung in the ward choir we had a good conductor and he taught us how to do this piece of music in a reasonably workmanlike manner.  It was difficult for me, so I appreciate the way the choir performs it in a way which seems effortless.

The Heav’ns Resound — Hands down my very favorite MoTab recording.  Great use of voices, and the organist gets a chance to blow some dust out of the pipes and show off.  The choir was built to sing this.

The heav’ns resound
with His praises eternal,
In might and glory they combine,
To tell His Name
through earth and the oceans
That man may hear the word divine.
He holds the suns
in the blue vaulted heavens,
He plants His foot upon the world.
The myriad stars bow
in willing subjection,
The universe His hand unfurled,
The universe His hand unfurled.

Does the Mormon Tabernacle Choir do things which make you rant or rave?  What are some of your favorite or not-so-favorite songs?  Please let us know in the comments.

Comments

  1. I have hundreds of choral cds but can’t say I ever reach for the motab really. Mostly they don’t sing the type of music I like. I think the most unfortunate thing about motab is the influence they cast on the rest of church music at a local level. The ideal standard of church music in our community is bombastic hymn arrangements backed by orchestras, and that unfortunately leaves out a lot of really great sacred music that doesn’t fit into that idiom.

  2. Rant: 300 grownups singing Primary songs
    Rave: 300 excellent musicians doing big, Romantic choral repertoire that wants big choirs. Think Berlioz & Mahler.

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    Mark, I too wore out my MoTab Messiah tapes on my mission. While I loved them at the time, I later learned that even though they were a two-tape set, they were still only selections. I’m the kinda guy who wants the whole thing. And then I discovered the Academy of Ancient Music version, and I haven’t turned back to MoTab’s Messiah since.

    So it was a useful stepping stone for me at a time in my life when I needed it, but it is no longer the first thing I reach for.

  4. Whoa–MoTab and Ormandy to the Academy of Ancient Music?? Holy stylistic whiplash, Batman (to say nothing of Philadelphia’s 442 to baroque tuning)!

  5. two words:
    La Bamba.

  6. Mommie Dearest says:

    I sing in a decent choir (read: yokel amateurs directed by a supremely competent musician) and I find motab to have tempo issues. Am I the only one who feels like tapping their foot to speed it up? On the rave side, one of their Christmas cd’s ranks among my all time favorites because of “What Sweeter Music.” The lyrics are centuries old, which helps.

    The OP had me spewing diet Dr. Pepper in hilarity as I read the very familiar lyrics to The Battle of New Orleans while imagining the well-coiffed and bepearled motab ladies and jowly gents in their Mormon power ties, singing about grabbing an alligator, powdering its behind, and…so forth.

  7. I happen to know that recently an internationally prominent music journalist passing through Salt Lake happened to hear a MoTab rehearsal in which they were preparing for their performance of the Berlioz Requiem with the Utah Symphony, and he was extremely impressed by the choir’s sound for that particular work–one of his all-time favorites, apparently.

    However, having 300 people do square, hokey, and racially questionable numbers is artistically inexcusable and seems to speak to an audience mired in the white American middle-class remnants of colonialist obliviousness. It’s like watching that cringe-inducing video of Mitt Romney posing for a picture in a crowd of African Americans and making himself at home among them by chanting “Who Let the Dogs Out.” Oh well. At least the MoTab doesn’t sing “Book of Mormon Stories” with the two-finger injun feather hand actions. (Do they???!!!)

  8. Rant (or at least pet peeve): Inexplicably translating some songs from Latin while leaving others alone. I was so disappointed on my MoTab-only mission to hear them sing the opening movement of Bach’s magnificat in English. Doesn’t work for me at all. Another example: they recorded of Bach/Gounod Ave Maria, but have that weird “Heavenly Father” version of the Schubert.

    Rave: I really like their “O Divine Redeemer” album…it has that fantastic recording of “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” and one of “Were You There” that I like. I’ve had choirs sing both of these in church and would happily aspire to their moving versions. “Born Free” in the opening scene of “Madagascar” was pretty awesome too.

    woodboy: I agree with you about MoTab setting the tone for our church music ideal, but it seems even worse than you describe. In most local congregations, we are happy to take pride in their polished sound while simultaneously and inexplicably reveling in our amateur sound (the 14-year-old farm boy choir?). We make no effort to aspire to their heights as our local ideal, leaving the heavy lifting for their authoritative voice out of Salt Lake City. Our under-rehearsing proves sincerity; their quality provides us legitimacy?

    Mark, I agree on all counts, except that a CD of Jimmy Buffet covers sounds thoroughly awesome; that suit at Deseret Book would get at least $20 out of me.

  9. This was a fun post.

    RANT: I agree with Kristine’s sentiment — it sort of goes without saying that this choir does well when it performs literature written for, well, large choirs. (I would include in that category a lot of the excellent hymn arrangements that the choir regularly performs.) I cringe when they’ve tried to do Baroque literature not well-suited for huge ensembles. Frankly, they just shouldn’t try to do pieces like Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah. Fortunately, I think Mack Wilberg and Ryan Murphy are sensitive to this issue and so I have to think we are seeing less of the Tabernacle Choir trying to pretend it doesn’t consist of 350 people. (350? Really?)

    RAVE: They sound and act like a choir, a serious choir, these days. That is to say, they stand when sing; new members have a mandatory training period; tone quality is good (hard to pull off with TV audio); they have a required retirement age, etc., etc. It’s a vibrant musical group, and less the choir of a few years ago that was this institution that we were all supposed to be in awe of but never knew why.

    So, yeah, keep the wonderful hymn arrangements and Brahms. Leave the rest alone.

  10. Sometimes I think the Mormon Tabernacle is the lesser of evils. I mean compared to the seminary soundtracks, EFY soundtracks, and any of the kitsch found often in LDS bookshops, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir really is the greatest music on earth. Outside of that context, perhaps it’s not quite as great.

  11. Mark, great post. I agree with your rants and of course have a ton of my own raves. Lately I’ve been enjoying their Heavensong album but generally I am in the boat of liking the pieces that are suited and meant for large choirs and I think they excel at those. I have no idea why they try the other stuff but I have to remember that there’s no accounting for taste and I imagine that these ridiculous arrangements of those tunes are invigorating for some segment of their fan base. We all know our share of . . . seniors . . . in our families in the Church who don’t think there’s anything off at all with the racial tonedeafness of some of this stuff or the odd mixing of genres.

  12. “invigorating for some segment of their fan base”
    No excuse. And we would never use that as a justification for movies or books or even bad pop music–why should we pander to “taste” only in music? Why tolerate racism because it doesn’t bother some people? Violent misogyny doesn’t bother some people, either, but that doesn’t make us think it’s ok for our kids to listen to bad rap music.

    Sorry, not really directed at you, john f. I just get peeved when we suddenly become namby-pamby relativists when the subject is music.

  13. Antonio Parr says:

    Mark:

    What do you think of some of the more recent Wilberg-era arrangements, e.g., “My Shepherd WIll Supply My Need”?

  14. Mark Brown says:

    I see your point, Kristine, at least I think I do. And I agree that the choir can and should perform an important pedagogical function. So the question becomes one of striking a balance between keeping the choir popular, or at least accessible to the members where they are now, and allowing it to flourish by performing other pieces of music which are are not familiar. From your perspective, do you think it is a manageable task? How would you do it?

  15. Coffinberry says:

    I agree with most of what was said–they’ve recorded som head scratchers. But to my surprise, two of our family’s favorite car recordings are their renditions of “Circle of Life” from Lion King and “In Dreams” from Lord of the Rings.

  16. Mark Brown says:

    Thanks for the comments, everyone.

    woodboy, I agree that the way we do hymns has become formulaic. Use an orchestra and throw in a key change before the last verse, big whoop.

    Hunter, actually, I rounded down. The official website says there are 360 choir members.

    Mommie Dearest, re: motab tempo issues: YES. I always assumed that they had to slow down a bit in order to allow that many people to enunciate clearly. But about 1 time in 10 they actually do get up to speed, so I guess they are just teasing us.

  17. Sharee Hughes says:

    I agree with Kristine (#2). I also like some of their hymn arrangements. But my biggest rant–the choir needs a fashion consultant for the women’s dresses.

  18. Mark! Wonderful! Thank you for calling them out on so many things.

    Rants: This Land is Your Land – MoTab, Woody is gonna get you for this; Too many Amens at the end of hymns (sorry Bro Wilberg) – just let them end; tempo issues; women’s dresses.

    Raves: Peace Like a River makes me feel peaceful; I too enjoy Redeemer of Israel (Wilberg arrangement); can’t think of another rave….

    Re: Hallelujah Chorus, I traded in my MoTab a long time ago for the Boston Baroque Ensemble. I prefer period-authentic over massive, “I’m gonna make you love me” performances. JMHO

  19. re # 15, what album is the Lord of the Rings piece on? I remember hearing them perform that in a Music and the Spoken Word around 2004 (I think) but haven’t heard it since.

  20. Maybe it’s culturally insensitive, but I really like Motab’s Betelehemu.

  21. It’s really pretty easy to avoid listening to the MoTabs. It’s like avoiding porn–don’t buy it, don’t click on those links, and if it pops up unbidden on your computer or TV, turn it off.

    Keeps my blood pressure in the range my doctor likes, and saves my friends and family from hearing me complain.

  22. Rant: So tired of the Tabs redoing (and inadequately at that) pieces the BYU Men’s Chorus did first. I’ve heard a couple of the Ethnically Questionable pieces in concert settings, and that’s more than enough. Crawling skin, go! (Also, a minor rant: duplication of selections. Do we need another album with High on the Mountain Top? Really? Can we do Lesser-Known Hits of the Hymnbook instead?)

    Rave: Don’t remember where (MatSW?), but they did Patrick Doyle’s Non nobis, Domine and I melted. More please. Like others I also love the O Divine Redeemer album – even with the modified words, Gounod sounds beautiful.

  23. Technically, I agree with the rants and raves – and the reasons for them. However . . .

    The MoTab isn’t just, or even primarily, a recording group. It is a touring group, and it’s only, or even primary, purpose is not strictly musical. It isn’t meant to do tours where it sings songs that only appeal to people who want to hear great choral arrangements for large choirs. Iow, it is a large choir that isn’t meant to be just a large choir. It is meant to appeal to the people who will attend its concerts and be moved in a positive way my its performances – and the target audience, by and large, for almost all of their concerts, is Mr. and Mrs. Average Person. It also includes Mr. and Mrs. Average Old Person, who grew up listening to the choit when it sang in all its “popular” (and far less professional) glory. Thus, the purpose of the choir sometimes is at odds with the purpose of a choir that produces recorded music sans live concerts that are performed for a particular reason that isn’t just musical.

    It seems that most of the rants are about “themed performance pieces”, while most of the raves are about pieces that are more appropriate for more traditional “recordings”.

    The MoTab does what it does for a “mission”, and I think limiting itself to only those pieces that are rave worthy musically would subvert and dilute that mission – even though that means performing some rant-worthy pieces from a pure musical standpoint.

  24. Lolz @ 21.

    Mark B., which treatment do you recommend for people who are suffering from MoTab addiction? Is this something which requires confession to the bishop, or can a member simply refrain from the sacrament for a few weeks and call it good?

    21 for BCoTW.

  25. I second #21 as BCotW nomination.

  26. Ray #23: I agree with what you said about the mission of the MoTab impacting the type of music it performs. Also, I just wanted to post in another thread where we actually agree on the topic :-) Merry Christmas!

  27. Mark,
    I really like this post, and I love your rants in general.

    I went to choral Evensong at Christ Church Oxford once. Nothing will compare with that, ever.

    MoTab is fine, I suppose, although there are too many diphthongs in their singing (I guess they can’t help being American). One of those wonderfully unique experiences of Mormon weirdness was when I went with Boz, Mrs. Boz, and KH to a recording of Music and the Spoken Word. Again, it was fine . . . but at the end they received a standing ovation. I’ve been to the Royal Albert Hall and the Staatsoper in Vienna and have never seen a standing ovation.

  28. Ray: sure, the choir has, since its inception, had a missionary function. For decades the Church’s media has been geared–just as you said–to “Mr. and Mrs. Average Person.” And as a result, we’ve fostered a culture that seems to place a high premium on hypernormalcy–to the extent that our obsession with normalcy has become bizarre in its own right, and the target for much of the derision directed at us. I suspect it’s very alienating as well: surveys show that younger people are much more likely to have a negative impression of Mormons, and I have to think that negative impression has something to do with the creep-out factor of our perceived cultural homogeneity. (What young person wants to listen to missionaries from a church full of millions of Mr. and Mrs. Average People?) So yes, we have the MoTab reaching out to white middle America with many of its musical selections (or, let’s face out, reaching “out,” as Mormon culture often does, in a somewhat self-congratulatory gesture to Mormons themselves).

    And now, a century after polygamy, our hard-fought normalcy is a liability. So what do we do now? We find the funkiest, quirkiest, un-MoTabbiest Mormons among us, and highlight them in “I’m a Mormon” commercials!

  29. Coffinberry says:

    @ 19–both are on the Showtime album … but be warned, that album also features some duds mentioned above, like Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

  30. Coffinberry says:

    PS, can you imagine the MoTab continuing the tradition if, as the sidebar suggests, the Grammy-award winning show tunes this year come from The Book of Mormon-A Musical? Imagine the 350 singing “Hello”… (Back to the exploding heads elsewhere described!)

  31. Maybe not “Hello,” but definitely “I Believe!”

  32. “Also, I just wanted to post in another thread where we actually agree on the topic :-) Merry Christmas!”

    Yeah, that’s important to know. ;-)

  33. Local level music is one of the only places in the church where mediocrity is celebrated. Certainly this does not happen in, say, home teaching.

  34. There’s worse: Pat Boone. “Enter Sandman.”

  35. MoTab has not done Carmina Burana that I can find. But if they do, I betcha they won’t translate THAT into English.

    I own two (three? four? I think I’ve lost some of them) different versions of MESSIAH that are far superior to MoTab’s, and I am a baroque (particularly Handel and Bach) squeeing fangirl.

    My main complaint has been noted above: mediocrity. I don’t know why so much of Protestantism is beset by the Curse of Mediocre Art. I used to go to Midnight Mass. Since then, MoTab’s totally off my radar. There’s so much better out there. See MarkB at #21.

    Aside #1: The best “Ave Maria” ever is by Jewel. Celine Dion needs a generous amount of duct tape applied to her mouth.

  36. My wife has been in choirs in high school, Fresno State, and BYU, and has a beautiful voice. A running gag she has between us is to sing Rock Me Like A Hurricane (The Scorpions) in full operatic voice, complete with over-the-top warble, when we are cleaning around the house. Never fails to get a huge smile from me. An unintended consequence of this, however, is that I now from time to time envision MoTab doing the same when I watch conference. It would definitely make your Rant list Mark, but hey, it would be worth it.

  37. Mark Brown says:

    woodboy (33),

    Yes, That is what bothers me. Be ye therefore mediocre. In no other aspect of our religious lives do we aim for average. It would shock us if somebody applied this kind of thinking to talks, sermons, or lessons. I don’t understand why, when it comes to music, we say “Oh well, it’s good enough for church work.”

  38. Be ye therefore mediocre.

    A while back I mentioned to my ward’s then-choir director an article I had found about our ward’s choir 50 years ago. It was huge (something like 70 people), and had won several recent choir competitions, and was in the news then because of some outstanding piece they had just performed somewhere. She sniffed as though I had intentionally insulted her and said that she was only interested in bringing the Spirit into our meetings.

    Apparently the Spirit likes mediocre, Mark. Get with the program.

  39. Mark Brown says:

    Ardis, if she had said that to me, I would probably have cried. And that would have PROVED how strongly I felt the spirit through her words.

  40. Larry the cable guy says:

    The latest rendition of Amazing Grace is quite moving to me, and done in a style with the snare drums and bagpipes that plays to the choir’s strengths. I was playing that CD through for the first time on the highway a few months back, and did have to check myself or wreck myself as they built up to: “When we’ve been there ten-thousand years . . ,”

    But then, my memory is still seared by La Bamba. All those faithful children of Lehi in Latin America, and what is on the only Motab album in espanol?
    —-

    La-la Bamba. Bamba-Bamba-Bamba. (modulate up) La-la Bamba. Bamba-Bamba-Bum-bum-bum-bum-bum.
    —-
    Repeated a dozen times with perfect diction. Of all the things that can drive away the spirit for a missionary, that had to be in the top five.

  41. Mark, I think you grabbed your Rant selections from my two favorite missionary MoTab albums: “An American Heritage of Spirituals” and “Songs from America’s Heartland.” There are some legitimately great moments on both albums, but yeah, some awful moments as well. “Spirituals” is totally unavailable anywhere except used on Amazon. And the tracklist for “Heartland” will make you shrink in horror (as will the awful percussionists on Cindy. Is there anything worse than an off-tempo wood block?? [yes. An off-tempo woodblock backed by a 360-voice choir singing a hoe-down song])

  42. Mark Brown says:

    Kyle, I almost included two other tracks from Heartland on the rant list — When the Saints Go Marchin’ In, and What a Wonderful World. WaWW belongs to Satchmo, period. Everybody else needs to keep their grubby hands off. And the other is a Mardi Gras staple, and here again, the choir is flailing around, trying to find some solid footing in a place it just doesn’t belong. Anybody who has heard real Dixieland will have feelings of pity and embarrassment when they hear the Heartland version.

    And Cindy, Oy. Muleskinner Blues by BIll Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys is 100 times better.


  43. This one might be my favorite Motab hymn.

  44. I dunno, Mark. This is a pretty good WaWW:

  45. rigel hawthorne says:

    When I was on my mission in Japan in the 80s, the choir came on tour and I was able to hear them live for the first time. A Japanese-American member of the choir sang a Japanese folk song called ‘Sakura’ as a solo, which, of course, was an audience favorite. Another favorite was the choir singing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocius” which generated quite a well-deserved audience roar. I read on the church news that during the tour, while in Tokyo I think, that one of their Japanese sponsors requested that they perform ‘We are the World’ which was popular at the time in the era of Michaelmania. Reluctantly, they pulled together a quick production of the number, which was a gracious response to their host’s request. I cannot imagine that such a number would have sounded any better than La Bamba, but I’m sure if someone put a link to that performance on this site, that i would not be able to resist listening to it.

    I had only two tapes of MoTab on my mission and heard them enough that I don’t care to listen to them any more. I personally found it rather idiotic that someone felt the need to change the words to ‘The Impossible Dream” from ‘to be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause’ to “to be willing to march ANYWHERE’ for a heavenly cause.’ I try to give the women’s fashion a break. You put 180 women side by side in any color and it will tend to look like a ‘sea of ________” insert color.

    I enjoy John Rutter compositions and have listened to both The Cambridge Singers and Motab perform Gloria and excerpts of Requiem. Rutter prefers his singers to have minimal vibrato and I do tend to prefer Rutter’s own recordings of his works. I would like, nevertheless, to hear MoTab produce Rutter’s ‘Magnificat’, as it is a beautiful piece of music that I would love to hear more. I don’t suppose that will be any more likely to occur than the choir singing the true words of Ave Maria. (Can’t one sing historical classic works without implying that worship of Mary is a shared religious tradition?)

  46. I think some of their odd choices regarding American ‘popular’ music of the past has to do with that Burl Ives-ish response against rock music in the 1960s, some of which can be heard in the folk groups of the late 50s as well.

    And I completely reject the idea that any song ‘belongs’ to anyone.

  47. Rave- going orchestral – Orchestra at Temple Sq as well as more work with the Utah Symphony.

    Rant- the new style which I find to be imitative of background movie music (ohhh-ahhh–mmmm-oooooohhh). Truly, this style is very ‘Hollywood’. I suggest that if the MoTab insists on keeping this style, that they quietly play this melodically shapeless, dynamically and metronomically homogenous “elevator music” behind general conference speakers or an actual multi-media production. If they sing a special musical number, make it a ‘special’ musical number. We’ve gotten in a bit of a rut.

    Rant- Yes, the 300 piece choir is terrific, but what would happen if we tried attacking historical pieces and works suited for smaller groups by creating mini-ensembles from the ranks of the MoTab?

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