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Former Tabernacle Choir director Jerold Ottley dies at age 86

Photo courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Former Tabernacle Choir director Jerold Ottley dies at age 86

By Ashley Fredde, | Posted - Feb. 19, 2021 at 8:31 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — The former director of The Tabernacle Choir Jerold Ottley, died Friday at the age of 86, according to a Facebook post by The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.

Ottley directed The Tabernacle Choir from Temple Square from 1974 to 1999, his time with the choir including 1,300 Music & the Spoken Word broadcasts; 30 commercial recordings; more than 20 major tours around the world and numerous rehearsals and performances.

According to the choir's blog, Ottley was born on April 7, 1934, in Murray, Utah, to Sidney and Alice Ottley. Prior to his work with The Tabernacle Choir, he completed his master's degree in choral conducting at the University of Utah and received a doctorate from the University of Oregon. He and his wife, soprano JoAnn Ottley, were also both awarded Fulbright grants to the Academy of Music in Cologne, West Germany. He worked with the choir as a part-time assistant director and prior to his full-time appointment served as a faculty member at the University of Utah Music Department.

He is credited with developing the choir's professional sound, and was director when the choir performed for President Ronald Reagan, who then labeled the group as being "America's Choir."

"The Choir would not be what it is today without Jerold Ottley's contributions for a quarter of a century. He was a visionary who put in place protocols that refined the Choir organization and ensured its future success," said choir president Ron Jarrett, who sang as a tenor in the choir under Ottley.

Current director Mack Wilberg also expressed thanks for the legacy Ottley established.

"Jerold Ottley was not only a wonderful musician but a great person who, like those before him, laid a foundation for today's Choir. His legacy is a gold thread in the tapestry of the Choir's past, present, and future," he said.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.


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