ST. GEORGE — The world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir has accepted an invitation by the U.S. Presidential Inauguration Committee to sing at the swearing-in ceremony of President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Jan. 20, 2017, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made the announcement Thursday.
“The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has a great tradition of performing at the inaugurals of U.S. presidents,” Ron Jarrett, president of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, said in a statement.
The choir sang at the inaugurals of five other U.S. presidents, including the official swearing-in ceremonies for George H. W. Bush in 1989, Richard M. Nixon in 1969, and Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. The choir also performed in inaugural parades for George W. Bush in 2001, George H. W. Bush in 1989, and Ronald W. Reagan in 1981.
When the choir sang its signature song “Battle Hymn of the Republic” during the inaugural parade for Reagan, he dubbed the choir “America’s Choir.” President George H. W. Bush called the choir “a national treasure” during his swearing-in ceremony in front of the Capitol.
“Singing the music of America is one of the things we do best,” Jarrett said. “We are honored to be able to serve our country by providing music for the inauguration of our next president.”
Over the years, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has performed on other occasions for five additional U.S. presidents, church officials said.
The choir sang in the Salt Lake Tabernacle for Jimmy Carter in 1978 and John F. Kennedy in 1963. Gerald Ford heard the choir sing at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in 1974. White House performances included a 1958 appearance for Dwight D. Eisenhower and an occasion for William Howard Taft in 1911.
While it’s not the first time the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has performed at a presidential inauguration, it may likely be the most controversial as Trump takes the oath of office as the 45th president of the United States.
An online petition opposing the choir’s performance was created Thursday on Change.org by Randall Thacker, former president of a gay Mormon group.
“The church’s participation will harm this spectacularly talented and beloved choir’s image, misrepresent the diversity of Mormons worldwide, and sends the wrong message to LDS children as they will perceive the church’s participation as endorsement of a president whose words and actions do not align with our values,” the petition reads.
The petition had garnered more than 1,748 signatures within two hours, and will be delivered to the Church once it reaches 2,500 signatures.
Events surrounding the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump will span five days and include an array of concerts, galas and appearances, some of which will be open to the public.
“President-elect Trump is committed to unifying our country as we once again celebrate the foundation of our American system and the peaceful transfer of power,” Presidential Inaugural Committee Chairman Tom Barrack said in a statement. “The 2017 inaugural celebrations will reflect President-elect Trump’s eagerness to get to work in order to make our country safer and stronger.”
Soprano Jackie Evancho will sing the national anthem at the inauguration for Trump. The 16-year-old classical prodigy rose to fame in 2010 when she was only 10 on “America’s Got Talent,” where she ultimately placed second that season.
Barrack said the inaugural will carry the message of President-elect Trump’s historic campaign, “Make America Great Again!” The official portion of the inauguration will begin with Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence laying a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery on Jan. 19. It will continue with a welcome concert Jan. 19, and end with the National Prayer Service on Jan. 21.
Many of the ticketed events are open to the general public. Information can be found at the Presidential Inaugural Committee website.
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