In a “Grand Night for Singing,” Broadway-Themed Concert Celebrates Pioneer Day

Contributed By Valerie Johnson, Church News staff writer

  • 22 July 2018

Guest performers Laura Michelle Kelly and Matthew Morrison take the stage as they join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square for their annual Pioneer Day concert at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

In a “grand night for singing,” the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square celebrated the 171st anniversary of the arrival of the first pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley with the Broadway-themed concert, “Music for a Summer Evening,” on July 20 and 21.

Before the Broadway numbers were kicked off, the choir and orchestra performed “They, the Builders of the Nation” and “Come, Come, Ye Saints,” which featured visuals of pioneers pulling handcarts through rivers and snow. The concert then moved on wholeheartedly to songs by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II from musicals such as Oklahoma! The King and I, and The Sound of Music.

Throughout the performance, narrator Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein III, grandson of the famed lyricist, gave context to the musical selections and plays. “Their songs remain as popular today as when they were last written,” he said. “These songs are still played over and over. The names Rodgers and Hammerstein have essentially become one word.”

The lasting success of Rodgers and Hammerstein is because the memorable songs “are set into wonderfully well-written stories that people want to tell over and over again,” Hammerstein said. “The secret of the show is the story.”

Guest performers Laura Michelle Kelly and Matthew Morrison take the stage as they join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square for their annual Pioneer Day concert at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Narrator Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein III talks about the different musical selections as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square perform their annual Pioneer Day concert with guest performers Matthew Morrison and Laura Michelle Kelly at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, July 20, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

This isn’t Hammerstein’s first time with the choir and orchestra. Last year, he narrated “Music: It Runs in the Family,” the 2017 RootsTech concert.

The concert featured special guests Matthew Morrison and Laura Michelle Kelly. Morrison is an Emmy-, Golden Globe-, and Tony Award-nominated singer, dancer, and actor, most recognizable from his role in the television series Glee. Kelly is a Laurence Olivier Award-winning actress and singer for her role as Mary Poppins and has performed for many other musical productions in radio, television, and concert.

“What a privilege to be here singing with this choir and orchestra,” Morrison told the audience.

Having toured all over the United States, Kelly said that this was her first time in Utah. “It’s such a beautiful city here and such a heavenly choir and orchestra,” she said.

Together, they created an affable presence on stage to engage and entertain the audience, especially with songs like “Oklahoma,” “People Will Say We’re in Love,” and “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy.”

The song “When I Marry Mister Snow” held significance for Kelly. She told the audience that she recently became engaged. “He has my heart, so I’m thinking of him when I sing this to you,” she told them.

Morrison and Kelly concluded the concert, along with the choir and orchestra, with the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” from the musical Carousel, earning a standing ovation from the audience.

Hammerstein explained that the lyrics are true of every pioneer:

Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart

And you’ll never walk alone,
You’ll never walk alone.

“Music for a Summer Evening” was broadcast live on mormontabernaclechoir.org on July 21 and is now available for on-demand viewing at motab.org/pioneerday. Visit mormontabernaclechoir.org for more details.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square perform their annual Pioneer Day concert with guest performers Matthew Morrison and Laura Michelle Kelly and narrator Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein III at the Conference Center in Salt Lake on Friday, July 20, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square perform their annual Pioneer Day concert with guest performers Matthew Morrison and Laura Michelle Kelly and narrator Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein III at the Conference Center in Salt Lake on Friday, July 20, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square perform their annual Pioneer Day concert with guest performers Matthew Morrison and Laura Michelle Kelly and narrator Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein III at the Conference Center in Salt Lake on Friday, July 20, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square perform their annual Pioneer Day concert with guest performers Matthew Morrison and Laura Michelle Kelly and narrator Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein III at the Conference Center in Salt Lake on Friday, July 20, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square perform their annual Pioneer Day concert with guest performers Matthew Morrison and Laura Michelle Kelly and narrator Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein III at the Conference Center in Salt Lake on Friday, July 20, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Mack Wilberg conducts the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square in their annual Pioneer Day concert with guest performers Matthew Morrison and Laura Michelle Kelly and narrator Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein III at the Conference Center in Salt Lake on Friday, July 20, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Audience members applaud the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square during their annual Pioneer Day concert at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, July 20, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Narrator Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein III talks about the different musical selections as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square perform their annual Pioneer Day concert at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, July 20, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Matthew Morrison spins as he sings as he joins the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square in their annual Pioneer Day concert at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City with other guest performer Laura Michelle Kelly and narrator Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein III on Friday, July 20, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Matthew Morrison sings as he joins the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square in their annual Pioneer Day concert at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City with other guest performer Laura Michelle Kelly and narrator Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein III on Friday, July 20, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Matthew Morrison laughs as he joins the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square in their annual Pioneer Day concert at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City with other guest performer Laura Michelle Kelly and narrator Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein III on Friday, July 20, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Guest performers Laura Michelle Kelly and Matthew Morrison take the stage as they join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square for their annual Pioneer Day concert at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Guest performers Laura Michelle Kelly and Matthew Morrison take the stage as they join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square for their annual Pioneer Day concert at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, July 20, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Guest performers Laura Michelle Kelly and Matthew Morrison take the stage as they join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square for their annual Pioneer Day concert at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, July 20, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Laura Michelle Kelly sings as she joins the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square in their annual Pioneer Day concert at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, July 20, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Laura Michelle Kelly sings as she joins the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square in their annual Pioneer Day concert at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, July 20, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Laura Michelle Kelly sings as she joins the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square in their annual Pioneer Day concert at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, July 20, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.