How Is Choir Seating Determined?
Ever wondered why your favorite alto is seated on the third row one week and in a different spot a few weeks later? Or why the tenor from down the street is always in the back row? It has a lot to do with height. Since 2006, Choir members have been assigned seats according to height as often as possible. This makes it easier for them to see the conductor and creates a more uniform appearance for the cameras.
The seating rosters for the four sections change depending whether the Choir is in the Tabernacle or the Conference Center. A Choir member could have perhaps seven different seat assignments in a single year. Only in recording sessions-which are not televised-are seats assigned in sections rather than by height.
There was a time when Choir members had permanent seats and the only way to move down or over was for another singer to leave. "They were seats for life," explains David Gehris, who handles the men's seating. He and his wife, Debra, sang in the Choir for twenty years and they have been in charge of seating since January 2006. Before David and Debra, Jim and Ann Turner made seat assignments from 1976 to 2006.
Women in the Choir range in height from 5'0" to 6'1" and men from 5'5" to 6'8". To receive their seat assignments in the Choir loft, women stand in their performance shoes-closed-toed, closed-heeled, to be measured. "We recommend the women wear flats," explains Debra Gehris, the women's seating manager. "Some think they would like to wear heels but after standing in them for two hours, which is very different from walking in them, they come back and remeasure in flats."