SALT LAKE CITY — The Mormon Tabernacle Choir announced Thursday morning that it will sing at the presidential inauguration for the United State's 45th president.
The inauguration ceremony for President-elect Donald Trump and Vice president-elect Michael Pence is scheduled for Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington D.C., when Trump will take the oath of office as the 45th president of the United States.
This invitation will make it the sixth time the 360-member choir has sung at a presidential inauguration in recent years. They sang at the swearing-in ceremonies in 1989 for George H. W. Bush, in 1969 for Richard M. Nixon, in 1965 for Lyndon B. Johnson and at inaugural parades in 1981 for Ronald W. Reagan, in 1989 for George H. W. Bush and in 2001 for George W. Bush, according to a news release from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
When the choir sang its signature song “Battle Hymn of the Republic” during the inaugural parade for President Reagan in 1981, he dubbed the choir “America’s Choir.” And President George H. W. Bush called the choir “a national treasure” during his swearing-in ceremony in front of the Capitol in 1989.
“The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has a great tradition of performing at the inaugurals of U.S. presidents," Mormon Tabernacle Choir President Ron Jarrett, said in the news release. "Singing the music of America is one of the things we do best. We are honored to be able to serve our country by providing music for the inauguration of our next president."
Along with singing at several presidential inaugurations, the choir has also performed at other events for five additional U.S. presidents, the LDS Church reported. They sang in the Salt Lake Tabernacle for Jimmy Carter in 1978 and John F. Kennedy in 1963. They also performed at the Kennedy Center for Gerald Ford in 1974 and at the White House for Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958 and for William Taft in 1911.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement Thursday afternoon after receiving mixed reactions to the announcement of the choir singing at Trump's inauguration.
“Response to the announcement has been mixed, with people expressing both opposition and support," LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a statement. "The choir’s participation continues its long tradition of performing for U.S. presidents of both parties at inaugurations and in other settings, and is not an implied support of party affiliations or politics. It is a demonstration of our support for freedom, civility and the peaceful transition of power.”
Randall Thacker launched a petition on change.org Thursday morning asking the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to reconsider performing at the inauguration. He said while he doesn't believe it will reverse the choir's decision, he wanted to provide an avenue for people who are unhappy with the decision to be able to express their feelings.
As of 4 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, the petition had more than 2,200 of the 2,500 signatures.
Contributing: Dave Cawley