“Choir Carries Audiences on a ‘Cloud of Sound’” Ensign, Oct. 2003, 75–76
A reviewer for the Grand Rapids Press in Michigan summed it up in one word: awesome. “There’s no other way to describe the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s performance,” wrote Jeff Kaczmarczyk of the choir’s first performance on its summer tour. The accolades only continued as the 360-member Mormon Tabernacle Choir and 25-member ensemble from the Orchestra at Temple Square performed 11 concerts in 18 days across 3,000 miles in June and July.
But ask any participant and they’ll tell you the tour throughout the northeastern United States wasn’t about those exhausting stats or even the rave reviews—it was about the individual lives that were touched by the Spirit.
“At the end of the concert, people just kept standing there. They wanted to stay there and feel that resonance, almost a reverence for what happened to them,” author Heidi Swinton, who is writing a documentary about the choir, told the Church News.
Singing hymns of praise, selections from the masters, folk music, and patriotic songs, the Tabernacle Choir entertained nearly one million people in live audiences from 24 June to 11 July 2003.
“Exhilarating, exhausting, exuberant, and extraordinary” are the words used by Mormon Tabernacle Choir director Craig Jessop to describe the tour. “In my professional life, it was probably the finest tour I’ve ever been on, truly. We had the finest venues and the finest audiences.”
In addition to live performances, the choir performed on two network television programs: NBC’s Today show in New York City and the CBS coverage of the Fourth of July Concert with the Boston Pops.
It was the first time that the Boston Pops and Mormon Tabernacle Choir have performed together. “If the Boston Pops is America’s Symphony, then the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is America’s Choir,” said Pops conductor Keith Lockhart in his opening comments at the packed Boston Esplanade by the Charles River.
The tour also launched a yearlong commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Music and the Spoken Word, the longest continuously running network broadcast. The weekly 30-minute program of music and inspirational commentary first aired on 15 July 1929 and today is broadcast on more than 2,000 radio, television, cable, and satellite stations worldwide.
Wherever the choir performed, a trail of compliments followed. World-renowned conductor Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos had an opportunity to conduct the choir at its concert at Tanglewood—the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a premiere venue for music festivals. When asked what it was like to direct the choir, Mr. de Burgos exclaimed, “Glorious! Absolutely glorious! You don’t need any other word to describe it.”
One of America’s most respected broadcasters, Charles Osgood, expressed similar sentiments after sharing the stage with the choir in New York’s Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center on 2 July.
“It’s one of the world’s greatest choirs,” said Mr. Osgood. “I felt as though I was carried on a cloud of sound.”
Church News contributed to this report.