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Mormon Tabernacle Choir Grows (Virtually) By Crowdsourcing Public Recordings


Have you long harbored a secret desire to sing with one of the world's great choirs? Well, now here's your chance. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is asking anyone with a love of singing to join their choir, at least virtually. We've asked the man behind the project to join us. Christian Pulfer is with the creative firm Boncom, which was hired by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.



GARCIA-NAVARRO: So Christian, how does this work? What is a virtual choir?

PULFER: We're kind of making that up as we go. There's been a couple that have been done. But we're essentially looking to crowdsource content from anyone - you don't have to be a singer - and we intend to get their audio and video submissions via YouTube and social media and then pair them with a recording that we've made of the Tabernacle Choir and mix and master that and release it in video form for Easter.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So users submit a video of themselves singing along to these tracks that you've provided and then you kind of mix it into the final project.

PULFER: Correct. They're kind of learning tracks that we've created online - videos. And participants simply learn the part, stick their headphones on, record themselves singing along and then we do the rest.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We have some samples from Handel hopefuls. They are all on YouTube, but we aren't going to use anyone's name. We'll play a few, and we're going to ask you to explain how you'll use those recordings.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: Here's one. It's marked tenor.


UNIDENTIFIED SINGER #1: (Singing) Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: It's a little better than singing in your bathroom. But how would you use that? How would you mix that in?

PULFER: You know, it becomes a little bit of a tricky process for us because we can't control the audio. So that submission, in particular, he sounded great. What we would end up doing is bringing it into a large sequence where we synchronize everybody together. So every submission would synchronize with everyone else's and then we would synchronize that with the recording of the Tabernacle Choir and then we would mix them all together so that they all sound like they're - hopefully - in the same environment (laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Let's listen to this. This is a soprano.


UNIDENTIFIED SINGER #2: (Singing) And he shall reign forever and ever, king of kings.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So this person has a lovely voice. But what if they don't? I'm sure you've gotten a few that aren't exactly Mormon Tabernacle Choir-standard.

PULFER: (Laughter) Yeah, definitely not. The Tabernacle tends to be pretty excellent at what they do. That in mind, though, we've - we're not necessarily looking for just singers. We intend to finish a video piece so that this'll be both an audio recording, a virtual choir and then there's a video accompanying that that will display all of these people in the Tabernacle Choir, as if they were there singing live, all of which are contributing to the final chorus.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Do reject anyone, or is any - everyone that submits, they get to participate?

PULFER: We haven't rejected anyone. Right now - I think, to date, we have somewhere between 600 or 700 really, really professional submissions.


PULFER: And we're kind of weeding through the rest right now to figure out what's usable and what's not. I think it would be wonderful to represent thousands of people singing with the choir, or rather kind of represent humanity and the world singing at large with the choir in celebration.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Submissions are open until March 1. Christian Pulfer, the group director for production for the creative agency Boncom. Thank you so much for being with us.

PULFER: Thank you, Lourdes.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And here is the real deal - the whole Mormon Tabernacle Choir.


MORMON TABERNACLE CHOIR: (Singing) Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, for the lord God omnipotent reigneth. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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