Mormon Tabernacle Choir Celebrating Anniversary

Mormon Tabernacle Choir Celebrating Anniversary

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Carole Mikita ReportingFor months now the search has been on -- the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has been looking for the oldest person who was ever a member of the choir, and they've finally found her.

Since last July the choir has been celebrating 75 years in broadcasting; that celebration culminates July 17th and 18th and 97-year-old Margaret Hicken will be part of it.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir stepped back in time late last year to reenact its original broadcast of July 15th, 1929 for a documentary. The oldest former choir member had just immigrated from Germany then, she is now nearly 98.

Margarete Stahl Hicken, Choir Member in 1929: "I had to sing the do, re, mi fa, know? And he said, ‘Okay’. Because, you see, it was easy to get in the choir in those days if you could carry a tune."

She never misses a broadcast and is so pleased when the choir sings something she remembers.

Margarete Stahl Hicken: "We had rehearsals just like you have now on Thursday evenings. Sunday morning's the broadcast, and I sat right below the organ, second seat in."

The anniversary year has been full of awards. The two most notable are the National Medal for the Arts awarded by President Bush and induction into the National Association of Broadcasters hall of fame.

A new book details the choir's humble beginnings to international recognition. The author says it's more than good voices, many choirs have that, this group, she says, has unity of purpose.

Heidi Swinton, Author, 'America's Choir': "There is a sense of singing with a spirit that communicates one soul to another. It's non-denominational in that way."

Swinton says the choir has reached out to the world. Now the singers will reach back to former members, extending an invitation to sing along once more and to say 'thank you'.

Craig Jessop, Music Director Mormon Tabernacle Choir: "’Thank you thousands of singers.’ That's what we hope to achieve. And then we also hope to say, ‘We're ready for another 75; we hope we sing forever.’"

The choir's anniversary concert is Saturday, July 17th in the Conference Center, followed by Sunday morning's broadcast of "Music and the Spoken Word" at 9:30 a.m. also in the Conference Center.

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