Former Mukiltean returns to the PNW with Mormon Tabernacle Choir

By Ian Davis-Leonard | Jul 03, 2018
Courtesy of: Richard Woolley Richard Woolley has sang in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for three years.

Richard Woolley hasn’t lived in Mukilteo in nearly three decades.

The former Boeing engineer has since moved to Utah, changed careers, raised five children and joined a choir.

Yet, on July 2, when Woolley made his return to the Pacific Northwest on stage at Benaroya Hall as a member of that choir, the world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir, it was a homecoming of sorts.

“I feel like I am coming home,” Woolley said. “Even though we were only here for a few years.”

The Woolley’s lived in Mukilteo for three years ending in 1989, but in that time a bond was built with the area.

“Washington is kind of where my wife and I started off, where we started our family and where I started my career and we fell in love with the area,” Woolley said.

Visits to their former home aren’t uncommon for the Woolley’s, but this particular trip to the Evergreen State was courtesy of a random idea and an overabundance of hard work and dedication by Richard Woolley.

“I just felt one day I should try out for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir,” Woolley said.

“Choir wasn’t something that had been on my mind for many, many years, it was just a thought that came to mind.”

With prior experience growing up in a musical home and singing both as an adolescent and in the Brigham Young University choir, Richard wasn’t a newcomer to singing, but he had been out of the music world for a bit of time before deciding to try out for the Tabernacle Choir.

Woolley endured the extensive audition process required to join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir that included a CD submission, a music theory test, an in-person audition and additional singing tests prior to being accepted.

After three attempts at making it through the audition phase, Woolley received an offer to join the prestigious choir, and the four-month-long choir school and preparatory choir that each member must pass through before being placed in the actual touring choir.

In his first year alone, Woolley learned nearly 300 songs and had to memorize 70 to 80 of them, all while also working full-time and being a father of five.

“It’s intense, but it’s wonderful,” he said.

Now as he enters his third year as one of the 360-person, volunteer-based choir, Woolley revels in the opportunity to participate in the diverse group.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is known for their ambassadorial role for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Woolley hopes people who may have not heard of the choir know that it is more than just a religious group.

“From Rodgers and Hammerstein to ‘The Sound of Music,’ we sing a wide variety of music that is uplifting, that can hopefully help people feel happier about life and feel a bit of piece,” Wooley said. “The songs that we sing definitely aren’t preaching the Mormon doctrine, if you will, but more like spreading goodwill and trying to help people feel closer to God, regardless of their religion.”

Seattle was the closing stop on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s 2018 Classic Coast Tour. It was just their sixth time ever in the city and first since 2005.

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