Mormon Tabernacle Choir Blog

Choir Makes History Again – 60 Years Later!

On Friday, July 15, 2016 at 6 a.m. the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square—in full concert attire—loaded buses outside their Paris hotel to travel to the Eiffel Tower. What made this morning so memorable was the chance to recreate the official 1955 Choir photograph on the same spot outside the Palais de Chaillot with the Eiffel Tower in the background from which where the original picture was taken.  (Click here to see the original 1995 photo.)

That 1955 tour was the Choir’s very first international trip. For six weeks, they traveled through the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands, Switzerland, and France. Before leaving France, the Choir posed for that official photo with the Eiffel Tower in the background and, according to Choir minutes, sang for services providing newsreel, television, and other media.

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Next Stop: Brussels Belgium

With previous concerts in Berlin and Nuremberg, Germany; Vienna, Austria; Zurich, Switzerland; and Frankfurt, Germany, the Choir and Orchestra made their sixth stop in Brussels, Belgium, at the Bozar Centre for Fine Arts. The concert hall opened in 1928 and is home to the National Orchestra of Belgium.

Prior to the tour Mack Wilberg warned Choir members “not to expect standing ovations and not to expect what we would call thunderous applause, because most European concerts that I have attended over the years—I think that people appreciate the music just as much—but sometimes don’t demonstrate it quite the way that we’re used to with American audiences.” After a few concerts Wilberg acknowledged, “But we have been pleasantly surprised the entire tour that the audiences have not been just appreciative but have been enthusiastic in their appreciation for the concerts.”

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The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Inspires Concertgoers in Frankfurt Germany

As the Choir and Orchestra stepped off the tour buses at the Jahrhunderthalle convention center in Frankfurt, Germany, comments like, “This looks like Epcot Center,” or “It’s kind of like the Tabernacle” could be heard among the crowd in describing the dome-shaped building. The relatively quick bus ride was appreciated by the entire touring company, and everyone was rested and ready to give their all for the concert. 

Once again, the Choir received a standing ovation and performed a double encore, which included “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “God Be with You Till We Meet Again.” The Frankfurt concert was the fifth concert of the Choir’s 2016 European Tour and was another sell-out crowd.

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Mormon Tabernacle Choir Pays Tribute to David Hurley—Retiring Member of The King’s Singers

This year’s Pioneer Day guests, the King’s Singers, are longtime friends of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and have been coming to perform with them in Salt Lake City for over 20 years. The musical camaraderie between the two groups is second to none, which makes Saturday night’s touching tribute all the more bittersweet.

Near the end of the second and final concert, announcer Lloyd Newell entered the Conference Center stage and stood next to King’s Singers member David Hurley. Newell then spoke about the special friendship between the Choir and the King’s Singers and said, “Tonight, I am sad to say, will be his last performance in the United States as a member of the King’s Singers. Now, we all wish David hadn’t decided to retire, but he has. It seems he wants to spend a little less time on the airlines that have transported him to every corner of this globe. He’s indicated he’d like to sleep in his own bed more often, make his own breakfast from time to time, and maybe finally get that dog he has long dreamed of having.”

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Response to European Tour Overwhelmingly Positive

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square returned home from a three-week European tour on July 16, 2016. It was their first visit to Europe in 18 years. Concerts were presented in seven cities: Berlin, Nuremberg, and Frankfurt, Germany; Vienna, Austria; Zurich, Switzerland; Brussels, Belgium; and Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Although Choir and Orchestra members arrived home tired and a little road-weary, each would say that the trip was worth the months of preparation and practice.

The audience response at every concert was overwhelmingly positive. The Choir and Orchestra members had been told before the tour that European audiences may be more reserved than audiences in the United States, so they found the enthusiastic standing ovations in each venue both rewarding and satisfying.

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The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Visits Switzerland for the First Time in 25 Years

Zurich, Switzerland, was the fourth stop on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s 2016 European tour. The last time the Choir was in Zurich was 1991, when they performed at the same venue, Hallenstadion — a multipurpose venue which has played host to musical artists such as ABBA, The Rolling Stones, The Eagles and, more recently, Adele, Imagine Dragons and Ed Sheeran — even Justin Bieber will take his turn at Hallenstadion in November.

Within the first hour of arriving in Switzerland, Choir members made their way to a local store’s candy aisle to get a taste of some of the world’s finest chocolate. When in Switzerland . . . .

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The Choir Performs in the City of Music—Vienna, Austria

It was like stepping back in time—history came to life as the buses pulled into Vienna—the City of Music, as it is known. Musikverein, also known as the “Great Hall,” is one of the first-rate concert halls in the world. At 161 feet long and 62 feet wide, it is smaller than the Salt Lake Tabernacle but similar in having a long design and natural acoustics. Musikverein was inaugurated on January 6, 1870, and has been the home of famous conductors, including Johannes Brahms and Gustav Mahler.  

Vienna was the third stop on a 20-day European tour—the first European tour in almost 20 years. It was the first time since 1991 that the Choir has been to Vienna. The large 360-member Choir couldn’t all fit on the stage, causing the need to have some of the Choir stand in front of a portion of the organ, while others were situated on the balcony. The end result of the concert was nothing short of beautiful, and the audience agreed, standing in applause to recognize the hard work of their favorite American Choir and Orchestra.

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German Members Impressed President Monson with their Singing

In 1968 when Thomas S. Monson, then an Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, first visited members of the Church in a small, second-story room of an old warehouse in Görlitz, East Germany [formerly known as the German Democratic Republic] he was deeply moved by the beautiful singing of church hymns and the spirit of the people he met.                            

“Elder Monson had ‘never heard such singing.’ Indeed, ‘the Saints showed their love for the Lord by the manner in which they sang hymns,’ and there was a unity that came from joining their voices,” wrote President Monson’s biographer, Heidi Swinton.

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