OTTUMWA — Ruth Seim has sung in front of people before. After all, she’s been a music teacher for 40 years. But she’s never sung for a live audience of 21,000. Or with such a prestigious group.

Seim is one of two music educators from Iowa who have been asked to perform with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

The invitation stunned her.

“My husband saw it and came rushing to bring it to me,” she said. “I read it several times before I could believe it. The Mormon Tabernacle, to me, is the ultimate choir.”

The 100 strong group of teachers from around the country will be singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” on April 21 in Salt Lake City.

“It’s an incredible arrangement,” said Seim of the specific piece. “I’m just extremely honored.”

The Mormon Tabernacle can seat more than 20,000 people. A press release said they expect a full house.

“The other thing I’m excited about: I’m an organ major, and, of course, one of the finest organs in the world is located at the Tabernacle,” Seim said. “I’m excited to see it and hear it.”

The concert is in honor of the 2006 conference of the National Association of Music Education, held every other year; this is the conference’s first time in Salt Lake City.

Seim had considered going to the conference.

“This clinched it,” she said.

The choir itself is comprised of 360 adults who have auditioned (during a three-part, six-month process) for a spot. The choir has performed at five presidential inaugurations, has won a Grammy, an Emmy and five gold records.

Their weekly radio program, “Music and the Spoken Word,” is carried on 2,000 radio stations across the country.

Mark Newman can be reached at 683-5358 or by e-mail at


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