The Minnesota Mormon Chorale: “A True Jewel”
By Cindy Curtis, Minnesota Mormon Chorale publicity director
- The Minnesota Mormon Chorale performs in at least four major concerts and at multiple devotionals every year.
- The chorale has performed at least 68 concerts with more than 200 pieces of repertoire and has collaborated with several other choirs in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
- A significant result of the chorale concerts is the testimony of Jesus Christ and His love for all that is borne to audience members through the Spirit.
“I believe we have only begun to do what the Lord would have us accomplish.”—Erin Gray, founder and artistic director of the Minnesota Mormon Chorale
The Minnesota Mormon Chorale, a 55-voice auditioned ensemble, is making a difference in the lives of many people, including hundreds of Latter-day Saints and their friends and neighbors in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
The choir performs in at least four major concerts and at multiple devotionals every year. Erin Gray, its founder and artistic director, has led the chorale for nearly 10 years and watched it emerge from simple beginnings to a spiritually powerful and technically accomplished choir.
“We have had a vision of how this choir can impact the testimonies of the members as well as increase the visibility of the Church in this area, and it is gratifying to watch that vision unfold,” Sister Gray said. “I believe we have only begun to do what the Lord would have us accomplish.”
Yet there have been many significant accomplishments already. The chorale has performed at least 68 concerts with more than 200 pieces of repertoire and has collaborated with several other choirs in the Twin Cities. Concert attendance has increased significantly, with hundreds of people flocking to stake centers for performances. Professional choral leaders in Minnesota have attended concerts and have praised the quality and expertise of the chorale. Many in attendance have felt something special as they have sung in collaborative concerts held in LDS stake centers. One guest expressed his heartfelt gratitude by simply saying, “I could truly feel the Spirit of the Lord in this building.”
The Minnesota Mormon Chorale is officially recognized by the Church and is operated under the priesthood direction of Kenton Baker, president of the St. Paul Minnesota Stake. Priesthood leaders are enthusiastic about the powerful spirit that is brought to each performance through the high caliber talent and spiritually sensitive singers who dedicate much of their time to this musical ministry.
“This is the best thing we have going for missionary work,” said President Baker. “These concerts are a wonderful tool for us to minister to our friends and neighbors and provide a high form of worship.”
“The chorale represents a vital resource in our public affairs and missionary efforts in this area,” said Jonathan J. Toronto, president of the Anoka Minnesota Stake. “It is a true jewel of the Church.”
A significant result of the chorale concerts is the testimony of Jesus Christ and His love for all that is borne to audience members through the Spirit. In March, the chorale performed the Lamb of God oratorio by Rob Gardner in connection with the newly formed Minnesota Mormon Orchestra that now performs regularly with the chorale under orchestra director Kate McWilliams. Renowned soloists, including George Dyer, Gabriel Preisser, Laurel Armstrong, and Suzanne Hansen, joined the choir in delivering a performance to more than 1,500 people. Hundreds of people of other faiths attended and were able to feel the Spirit.
“I came expecting it to be good, but I wasn’t prepared to cry … and I don’t cry easily,” said Carole Anderson, a friend who attended the performance. “I have never witnessed a performance of this caliber given all by volunteers in my life. It was truly remarkable.”
On May 10 the chorale performed its spring concert, titled “I Am a Child of God,” which testified through music and spoken word of God’s love for all of His children. Fifty youth forming a regional Mormon youth chorus, directed by Barb Thibaudeau, assistant director, performed with the chorale.
“As soon as the music started, I felt a tingling, warm feeling come into me, and it continued to spread throughout my body,” said Deanna Danielson, an investigator preparing for baptism. “I became emotional and began to weep. I knew that the Lord’s Spirit was here and that this was right.”
Such are the experiences of those who hear the musical ministry of the chorale. Growth and expansion continue, reaching an ever-widening audience and touching hearts and lives of many in Minnesota.