Day 3: Mormon Tabernacle Choir East Coast Tour

  • 23 June 2011

Day three of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s East Coast tour involved a visit to the United States capital, Washington D.C., where the choir spent time enjoying sites such as the White House, the Smithsonian Institution, various national monuments, and Arlington National Cemetery before their evening performance at the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.

This trip marks the first time the choir has been to Washington D.C. in eight years; the first time the choir visited was in 1911.

Highlighting the afternoon preconcert “sound check” were winners of radio station WTOP’s (FM 103.5) competition, “Sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.” Contestants submitted their MP3 and YouTube videos to audition for four spots. One winner, Dottie, said she “was in tears” when she learned she was chosen, adding, “It was awesome. When I first heard the orchestra start up and the first of the big voices came on, the sound that I had heard for so many years on CDs was actually there, and I got goose pimples, and tears starting rolling from my eyes. But once I was on stage, everybody was so nice and so friendly and so welcoming. It was just wonderful.”

 

See videos from the third day of the tour and listen to Brian Hales, first tenor in the choir, tell of his experiences.

Another contest winner, Kevin, said, “Singing with 350 people who are so professional is really amazing.” The contest winners joined the choir in singing “Down to the River to Pray.”

Prior to the 8:00 p.m. concert start, patrons filled all 3,868 seats at the outdoor venue. Although the forecast included rain, the clouds dispersed, leaving the sun shining and the lawn overflowing with additional listeners as the 315 voices accompanied by the 62-piece orchestra blended their sounds in “Guide Us, O Thou Great Jehovah.”

For the next 45 minutes Mack Wilberg and Ryan Murphy directed the choir in hymns and other choral works. A highlight of the night came when choir member Alex Boyé’s interpretation of “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me” brought the crowd to its feet.

The final two songs were favorites for which the choir is known—“Come, Come Ye Saints,” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” A standing ovation, which began even before the last song’s finish, resulted in an encore of “God Bless America.” A second standing ovation led to a guest conductor, U.S. senator Mark Warner of Virginia, directing the choir in “This Land Is Your Land.”

Tom and Eleanor Foley of Leesburg, Virginia attended the concert. Eleanor said, “We love choir music, and we love the kind of music they presented here tonight. We love to hear them because they're such a great group of singers. I'll take home the glory of having seen them live. Only in your memory can you repeat something like this.”