Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Concert

Most of our concerts are held in large arenas to accommodate large audiences of 7-10 thousand. In St. Louis we perform in the Scottrade Center built originally for the St. Louis Blues hockey team.
Our concert clothing is transported by truck to each venue and we dress there just prior to each concert. You can only imagine how very challenging this is with 450 other musicians trying to do the same thing.  We instrumentalists then race to the stage before the choir lines up to enter 15 minutes prior to each concert.
Our program consists of 22 numbers in a variety of styles.
  • Hymns of Praise
  • Music of the Masters
  • Music of the World
  • Two American Folk Hymns
  • Intermission
  • Songs of the Land
  • Songs of Faith and Hope
  • Songs of Inspiration from the American Theater
  • Music and the Spoken Word
    Alex Boye delights the audience with his whole heart and soul singing of "I Want Jesus to Walk with Me."
Organist Richard Elliot's rendition of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" brings cheers and applause in the middle of his unbelievable foot work. I have never before thought of organ playing as an athletic event, but Rick is amazing to put it mildly.
The encore number "This Land is Your Land" is often conducted by a local celebrity. Tonight it was John Ashcroft, former U.S. Attorney General.

“I thought it was so beautiful and lovely. Why don’t we do this every day? To go from normal life and have this Choir come on stage, out of nowhere, this sound and this spirit is what the whole world needs every day. Thank you so much.” 
June Sommer

After each concert we are very appreciative of the ice cold water waiting for us as we re-board the buses back to our hotel.

Meet Me in St. Louis

We arrive in St. Louis, step out onto the tarmac, and are hit with a wall of heat and humidity. Ninety-five degrees that easily feel like one hundred and five. We won't be needing our sweaters here! 
Audrey feels like a celebrity as she walks down the ramp. Buses are there waiting for us right there on the tarmac and we are whisked away to the hotel.
We arrive with less than one hour to spare. Knowing this is our only chance and despite the heat, we take a quick walk to experience the awesome Gateway Arch.
Designed by Finnish architect, Eero Saarinen, it is the tallest monument in the U.S. and was built from 1963-1967.
Audrey and Lauren receive loads of attention as the youngest members of this tour. Each just five feet tall, choir members are constantly asking them how old they are. Most think 15... or 17... and are very surprised to find that they are 21 years old. "You two look too young to be in the orchestra; do your mothers know where you are?" Audrey just smiles and points to me.
On the 21st and 23rd floors of the hotel, we have some pretty terrific views from our window. Randy and I enjoy this beautiful stretch of park smack dab in the middle of St. Louis where numerous wedding parties gather for photographs.

Audrey and Lauren have a great view of the Cardinal's home stadium.
We have a bite to eat and race to the Scottrade Center where we meet up with the choir. Their tour experience began two days prior when they performed at Riverbend with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra.

2009 Tour - Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square

4:00 AM - The alarm calls us to rise and shine. Shine? This early in the morning? Absolutely! It's tour week - and an chance to spread love and light to the people of the Midwest!  Audrey and I meet in the hallway. Great -- Our clothes match! We're going to get guff for this; no time to change. We dawn our "missionary" name tags, grab our bags, and head for the airport. We leave on a charter flight at 6:30 AM.
Audrey meets up with fellow violinist, Lauren. They will be roommates for the week. Lauren and Audrey are the youngest on the tour, I believe. Each just five feet tall - people are surprised to find out they are actually twenty-one years of age. Lauren has been called to a full-time mission in Argentina. She leaves this August.
Happy to find that we are in First Class, Randy and I settle into our very LARGE seats. I've never flown first class before!Linen table coverings and a delicious and more than ample breakfast.
As we climb through the clouds to the blue sky above, I think of President Uchtdorf's message in the Ensign this month.
"One of the things I loved most about flying was departing from a dark and rainy airport, climbing through thick and threatening winter clouds, and then suddenly breaking through the dark mist and steeply gaining altitude into the bright sunshine and endless blue sky."

"Prayer helps us transcend the stormy times. It gives us a glimpse of that blue sky that we cannot see from our earthly vantage point, and it reveals to us another vista—a glorious spiritual horizon filled with hope and the assurance of the bright blessings the Lord has promised to those who love and follow Him."

It isn't long before we spot the famous arch marking our arrival at our first destination.