SALT LAKE CITY — Richard P. Condie, who kept the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the top of the world's reigning choral groups during his lengthy tenure as conductor, died Sunday. He was 87.
Condie retired in 1974 after 17 years as conductor and 20 years as assistant director of the choir. During that period the choir recorded 50 albums with sales in the millions.
In 1959, two years after his appointment, the choir began a critically acclaimed tour of the midwestern and eastern United States, highlighted by a performance of Handel's "Messiah" with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. The choir's recorded performance of that oratorio with Ormandy is considered by many a definitive rendition.
The choir won a Grammy Award for "The Lord's Prayer" album and a Gold Record for "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" selection from the same record.
Later tours included performances with orchestras in New York, Washington and Cleveland. In more recent years, the choir recorded with the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Leonard Bernstein.
Under Condie's direction the choir performed more than 850 weekly CBS Radio concerts titled "Music and the Spoken Word."
Called a 'Beacon'
Condie, a tenor who studied at the New England Conservatory of Music and the Fountainbleau Conservatory of Music in France, coaxed a deep, romantic tone from his singers. Paul Hume, music critic for the Washington Post, wrote, "This sound of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has been a special beacon for those who love the world's great choral music."
Condie made his operatic debut with the Sebastiani Opera Company of Italy in Puccini's "Madame Butterfly."
He also was director of choral music at Utah State University, Brigham Young University and taught at the University of Utah.