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SALT LAKE CITY — Two experienced leaders have been named to serve as counselors to the new president of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.
L. Whitney Clayton and Gary B. Porter were sustained as first and second counselors to new Tabernacle Choir President Michael O. Leavitt in a devotional Thursday evening at the Salt Lake Tabernacle, according to a news release.
The new choir presidency will oversee the administration and supervision of more than 700 volunteers. Along with introducing the new counselors, President Leavitt discussed the choir's plans to move forward amid current COVID-19 conditions.
Who is L. Whitney Clayton?
- Elder L. Whitney Clayton served as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 2001 to 2020. During those years, he was a member of the church's Presidency of the Seventy and senior president of the Quorums of Seventy. His church assignments took him to Mexico, the Middle East and Africa North, and the church's South America South Area, along with other global locations. He was granted emeritus status in October 2020.
- Elder Clayton was an attorney in California from 1978 to 2001, prior to his call as a General Authority Seventy. He earned a bachelor's degree in finance at the University of Utah and a law degree at the University of the Pacific.
- "This is a great choir. It's the best in the world, and we're happy to be a part of it," Elder Clayton said during Thursday's devotional. "We'll do everything we can to help this choir become the global choir it's envisioned to be."
Who is Gary B. Porter?
- Gary B. Porter serves as a senior vice president at Deseret Management Corp., where his responsibilities include human resources, community relations, executive director of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Foundation and president and CEO of Temple Square Hospitality Corporation.
- Porter was recently named the chairman of the board of governors of the Salt Lake Chamber, Utah's largest business association. He previously served in the Welfare/Self-Reliance Services department and was appointed as secretary to the Presiding Bishopric. He also served as managing director of the church's Presiding Bishopric Administrative Services Department.
- "We were humbled but thrilled because of the great admiration we have for the choir, for the organists, for the directors," Porter said. "As we reflected back on all the times we listened to the choir, they just have such deep resonance and spirituality that it's just been moving for us."
President Michael O. Leavitt
- Leavitt, a former Utah governor and White House cabinet member, was named president of the Tabernacle Choir on Aug. 6. He will serve with his wife Jacalyn and lead the presidency, similar to the organizational structure used in church missions worldwide.
- Leavitt replaces Ron Jarrett, who has served as president of the choir since 2012.
- "This is the moment in the choir's history to launch a focused and magnified commitment to expand the supply and the accessibility of sacred music around the world," President Leavitt told choir members in the devotional.
How the Tabernacle Choir will move forward
Members of the choir organization were invited to meet in person or join via livestream for Thursday's devotional. Bishop Gérald Caussé, the choir's adviser, presided at the meeting.
President Leavitt announced that the choir will meet virtually on Thursday, Sept. 9, for orientation, followed by a practice on Sept. 21.
"We need to resume performance. For nearly a year and a half, COVID-19 and its variants have interrupted our progress. Well, the time has come for us to reboot our work," President Leavitt said. "It is our aspiration that we once again can fill the Conference Center with live music as we begin to prepare for the choir to sing at general conference."
Live performances of "Music and the Spoken Word" will commence in due course and the choir is "leaning forward" in planning its 2022 Heritage Tour, President Leavitt said.
The tour is scheduled to include performances in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Scotland, South Wales and Wales from June 18 to July 6, 2022.
"The objective needs to be to give a global church a global choir, and to provide a means by which the world can begin to feel the value of sacred music in a way that will give them peace and joy," the president said in interviews on Aug. 6.