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Music: It Runs in the Family

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square performed the inspirational songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein on February 9, 2017, in the Conference Center at Temple Square for the opening event of the RootsTech 2017 Conference. Their program was aptly titled “Music—It Runs in the Family.” The Choir was joined by Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein III, grandson of lyricist and playwright Oscar Hammerstein II, and singer Dallyn Vail Bayles to showcase the amazing talent and legacy of the Rodgers and Hammerstein songwriting team. 

During the concert, an emphasis was made on Choir members sharing their love of music as well as membership in the Choir with members of their family:

“Music really does run in my family,” explained Choir alto Pamela Fetzer Hawker. “It was a huge part of my family. It is just a part of what we do. We all sing. We all played two instruments.” When she joined the Choir, she became part of an organization where her aunt, sister, and cousins had been before her. Pamela’s niece, Janene Holmberg, is currently the principal violist for the Orchestra at Temple Square.

Scott Miller, a tenor in the Choir who has soloed on several occasions, commented that “It’s been a fun thing to think that my great-grandmother sang solos in the Tabernacle and my mother sang solos in the same place that I have.”

A choir member in her first year, Mary Wells Chaffin, said, “My grandfather worked a second job so that my mother could have piano lessons. And she’s an amazing pianist, and that’s why I sing. It just makes me so proud of my grandfather because he worked two jobs so that music could be part of my mother’s life. Because my grandfather left that legacy of it being so important, it was important to us. Now, my kids are going to see that it’s important to me. . . . It’s the constant. When things go sideways in life, you will always have your music.”

Near the end of the program, Mr. Hammerstein said, “You see how music runs through five generations of my family. But let’s see how music runs through generations of families in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.” He then asked the Choir and Orchestra members to stand if they presently had a family member in the Choir or Orchestra or if any of their ancestors or relatives had been former members of the Choir organization. The vast majority of the Choir and Orchestra members stood.