Choir Tour Day 1: First Day on Tour

  • 22 June 2011

 Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell led the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in “This Land Is Your Land,” during the first concert of their East coast tour on Monday, June 20, 2011.

“When we accompany the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the thrill never falters.” —Will Francis, French horn player for the Orchestra at Temple Square

The cheers and shouts emanating from Virginia’s Norfolk Scope Arena on Monday evening weren’t for an American Hockey League team—they were for America’s Choir. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square kicked off their eight-day East Coast tour with a sold-out concert in the spacious hockey arena.

The nearly 600 people involved in the tour made their way in groups to the Salt Lake City airport in the wee hours of Monday morning, and less than 24 hours later lifted their voices in the first song of the tour, “Guide Us, O Thou Great Jehovah.”

The choir’s sound technicians transformed the less-than-ideal acoustics into a sound that those in attendance could not get enough of.

“Fantastic. Spectacular,” were the words Clare Born and Charles Hopkins from Hampton, Virginia, used to describe the performance. “It's the dream of a lifetime.”

Will Griffon is director of choirs at Armstrong High School in Richmond, Virginia. He has conducted “Betelehemu” before, which the choir performed.

“[Monday’s] concert was exhilarating; tears literally came to my eyes,” he said. “Tomorrow is the last day of school, but I had to come. I’ll go back [to school] re-inspired.”

Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell was guest conductor for “This Land Is Your Land.”

Many local choral conductors were in attendance to see the renowned choir and orchestra perform.


See photos from the first day and listen to an orchestra member describe his experiences.

Despite the long trip and early call time, the synergy and good cheer of the performers was admirable, said Will Francis, who has played French horn for the orchestra since 2004. One of the most memorable moments from the concert for him was performing the powerful patriotic anthems—“The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “God Bless America”—while men and women from the military stood.

“Truthfully, I have played these songs hundreds of times, and one would think that familiarity would steal the savor from the experience,” Brother Francis said. “But when we accompany the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the thrill never falters. And tonight, especially, when we performed these songs in honor of those in our audience who have served us as members of the military, the excitement redoubled.”

On Tuesday the choir will rest and have the opportunity to visit the historic sights along the East Coast as they prepare for their next concert at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Virginia.