The Mini Tabernacle Choir

The Mini Tabernacle Choir
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is well-known throughout Africa. With its 360 members, its millions of recordings, and its scores of awards, it has become the gold standard for an exceptional choir. Their professional approach has also become a model for many Church choirs, even teeny tiny ones.
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When the Alexandra Branch was recently incorporated into the Johannesburg Stake, President Andrew E. De Kock invited Alexandra Branch President Mapogo J. Tlladi to provide a choir for the Saturday session of an upcoming Stake Conference. This would allow the branch to begin interacting within its new stake and would allow the larger stake to get to know their newest members.

President Tlladi agreed to provide a choir, knowing it would be a challenge because attendance for the entire branch fluctuated between 30-40 adults. He would need every able-bodied adult to participate.

And participate they did. Most of the branch assembled for the early rehearsals, including the young single adults and the senior missionary couple. Directed by Sister Sinah Monoalibe, they ran through their assigned hymn, “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go” (hymn 270). It sounded rather weak and ragged, but then everybody was just standing all together singing.

“Let us do as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir does and stand according to our parts,” Sister Sinah suggested. “Let’s have the basses on the far right as they do, then the tenors, then the altos, and the sopranos on the far left.” Everybody agreed, and they reassembled themselves.

They sang the hymn again, and it did sound much better. However, the accompanist pointed out that they were misplacing the dotted sixth note on the fifth and last stanzas: “I can play it the way you are all singing it,' she offered, “or you can try to sing it the way it is written. We just need to be together.”

The choir took a vote and decided definitively: “We must sing it the way it is written. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir would sing it the way it is written.” The Alex Branch members then worked very hard on the pesky dotted sixth note throughout the next two rehearsals.

The Sunday before they were scheduled to perform, they worked out the final details, such as what to wear. Since everybody had black and white Church clothing, they felt that would present a suitably unified image. One sister said sadly, “It’s too bad the women won’t have lovely colors like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, though.”

Sister Mimi Twala offered, “I have a source for inexpensive scarves that would brighten up our look.  What color would you like?” After deciding that dark purples were 'too funereal' and red with green stripes were 'too Christmassy,' they settled on a lovely dusty rose --with sparkles.

The Saturday session of Stake Conference arrived. When it was their turn to sing, the Alexandra Branch Choir stood together and sang with all their hearts, singing the last stanza a’capella in their beautiful African harmonies:  “I’ll be what you want me to be!” That day, they became the Mini Tabernacle Choir.