Christendom reveres the celebration of Easter as a time to commemorate the vicarious death and the glorious resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. During that season of the year, there are passion plays, cantatas, and special musical presentations by choirs of many different faiths and denominations. Although there may exist doctrinal differences between different faiths, the unified consensus is that Christ was crucified for the sins of all humanity, and He triumphantly arose from the grave and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
During the 2017 Easter season, the world renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir will host the world premiere of A Cloud of Witnesses, an original composition by Mack Wilberg, the choir’s Music Director. The Choir, accompanied by the Orchestra at Temple Square, will perform the composition during Easter concerts on Good Friday, 14 April 2017, and Saturday, 15 April 2017 at 7:30 p.m. in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. Per a news release, the work “is inspired by accounts of witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” The original text was written by David Warner, a longtime collaborator of Wilberg, with scriptural references found in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible.
Also, included in the repertoire for the concert is Ludwig van Beethoven’s Christ on the Mount of Olives. Christ on the Mount of Olives, op. 85 was first performed in April 1803 in Vienna, Austria. Per a news release, it was “Beethoven’s first major work on a religious subject and his only oratorio. The libretto by Franz Xaver Huber treats the emotional agony of Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane and his triumph over death.” Three soloists will be featured in the performance of the dramatic oratorio – Celena Shafer (soprano, portrays an angel), Brian Stucki (tenor, sings as Jesus), and Tyler Simpson (bass, the voice of Peter). All three have sung with the choir previously. Shafer and Stucki reside in Utah, and Simpson currently lives in Helsinki, Finland. Simpson will perform as the bass soloist again when the choir performs Messiah for Easter in 2018. Following the Beethoven oratorio, the Choir and Orchestra will present the world premiere of A Cloud of Witnesses.