News Release

Two Singers from France Earn Spots with World-Renowned Tabernacle Choir

Among first Europeans to participate.

Esther lives in the southwest French city of Bordeaux. Clément makes his home in Reims, in northeastern France. They now share an unexpected, new connection. Both have been selected as global participants in The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square in the U.S. state of Utah. They will sing with the Choir during the Worldwide General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6-7 April 2024.

The award-winning Tabernacle Choir is one of the oldest and largest choirs in the world. The Choir has performed before audiences in more than 28 countries and sold millions of recordings.

Born in Strasbourg, Esther Petion is the ninth of ten children who grew up in a musical family. All the children learned to sing and play an instrument in their youth, including one who later made singing her profession. At the age of seven, Esther was eager to start at the Strasbourg music conservatory, learning simple music theory and singing in the children’s choir. She was taught basic piano skills by her mother and when she was nine, she added the cello to her repertoire.

Esther now lives in Bordeaux and works as a speech therapist, assisting children and adults. She also takes every opportunity to sing. “I am not a professional,” said Esther, “but I have always liked singing for pleasure and to express my joy.” She was able to sing in many choirs at the conservatory and at church. Like her mother and most of her sisters, Esther is a high soprano. “Singing with the Tabernacle Choir will be an unbelievable musical experience and an opportunity to give my voice to the Lord.”

Esther will travel to Salt Lake City with Clément Jouault, a bass-baritone who was born in Bordeaux but now lives with his wife and young daughter in Reims. Clément is an air-traffic controller, amateur pastry chef and serious musician. He’s not a professional singer, but very close to it.

There was always music in Clément’s family home where he started piano lessons at the age of five. His parents saw something in Clément early on and wouldn’t let him stop taking lessons when he was tempted to. He credits their support and patience with his continued piano studies. All through his high school years, he accompanied singers on the piano and was active in his local congregation’s choir, which was directed by a professional musician.

When Clément and his family moved to Reims ten years ago to pursue his air-traffic career, his musical life took a turn and he auditioned for the Reims Conservatory—not in piano, but in opera singing. “That’s when the real singing adventure began,” noted Clément. With the help of top-notch faculty and opera singers, he was able to take part in professional productions, including Mozart’s “Magic Flute.”

“It has always been a dream of mine to sing with the Tabernacle Choir. At one point, I even considered moving to Utah, working for the Salt Lake City Airport, studying music at Brigham Young University, and auditioning for the Choir, but that didn’t work out,” explained Clément. “I was in shock when I heard about this program.”

After being recommended by the Europe Central Area Presidency, both Esther and Clément received emails from the Tabernacle Choir, inviting them to audition. The process took about ten weeks, starting with an online interview to cover practical details. Next came the technical audition. They had about one month to make recordings of their voices performing in various ways, then they submitted the recordings to the review committee.

Most nerve-wracking for each of them was the 15-minute live online audition with Ryan Murphy, assistant conductor of the Tabernacle Choir. “He was very nice, very professional, and he speaks French,” they both said. A few weeks later, they were notified by email of the final decision.

Clément explained, “I reached to turn off my phone alarm one morning and saw a few emails there. There was one from the Choir that started with ‘Congratulations.’ So, I woke my wife and said, ‘I made it!’”

“When I saw the email, I was full of so many emotions,” Esther recalled. “I was surprised, happy, curious and anxious for the rest of the adventure, and really excited. Mostly, I was so thankful to my Heavenly Father.”

Esther and Clément will have a few weeks to learn the 11 pieces of music they will perform with The Tabernacle Choir. When they arrive in Salt Lake City, two weeks ahead of the Conference, they will be designated as musical missionaries and spend all their time preparing for the performances. They are both especially grateful for the opportunity to be called as missionaries. “This means a lot to me because I haven’t ever served as a missionary,” said Esther. “So, this is now my mission in a personalised way that suits me. I think Heavenly Father has a special way for everyone to be a witness of his Son and of His mercy.”

These two singers from France will be official members of the Tabernacle Choir for a period of five years, with the chance to sing in at least three different General Conferences of the Church. The first global participants performed with the Choir in April 2023, and for the first time this year, singers from Europe were invited to audition. There will be twelve global participants for the upcoming April 2024 General Conference, seven of whom come from Europe—from France, Austria, Sweden, Denmark and England.

“I think many of my friends from the conservatory will view the conference sessions to try and see me,” said Clément. “They helped and encouraged me during the audition process, so I am happy they can share this experience with me.”

“This is the first time I will be in front of so many people, which seems scary at first,” reflected Esther. “But I know Heavenly Father will help me know how to react in order to be a good missionary as part of the Tabernacle Choir.”

General Conferences of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints take place twice each year, in April and October.

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