Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Violins - Norman, Oklahoma

First Violins LEFT to RIGHT: Becky Roesler, Ruth Brown, Tamara Tanner, Yours Truly, Mindy Davis, Meredith Campbell, Alena Hatch, Libby Nielson, Sara Jane Thompson, Corine Hart

Second Violins:  Jane Clark, Amy Stout, Audrey Collier, DeDee Madsen, Lauren Keller, Christine Davis, Debbie Poulsen, Stephanie Mecham, Melodie Gardner, Kathy Ludlow

KBYU's film crew has been following the ins and outs of tour since our pre-tour meeting two weeks ago. Today they catch up with Audrey and Me because we are the only mother/daughter combo in the orchestra. They ask us a few questions about tour. One asks me, "So - How do you like having your daughter on tour." I express how neat it is to have someone with whom to share all these incredible experiences. He turns to Audrey. How is it having your mother on tour with you; to which she responds, "It's good. SHE MAKES ME EAT MY VEGETABLES." 

The Choir dresses in the colors of the University of Oklahoma Sooners - a GREAT move when we were performing in their arena and all!  I had to look up the term "sooner" because I had no idea what one was. Seems "sooner" is used to describe someone who entered the "unassigned lands" of Oklahoma before they were officially opened for settlement. Hmmm - interesting nickname for a University.

Tonight's audience is the most enthusiastic to date. I was surprised at intermission by my cousin, Laura Kaye, and her two girls! I hadn't rubbed shoulders with her for 30 years, and now I've seen her twice in one year!

Tears come to my eyes even now, as I recall the glorious experience it was for my husband and I to join with thousands in Norman, Oklahoma to hear "America's Choir"!! Thank you, Mormon Tabernacle Choir! And also, thanks to the fantastic orchestra from Temple Square! The experience of hearing you all perform together was a "gift" that we shall long remember. You lifted our hearts and touched our spirits!

-- Nikki

 “I thought it was absolutely awesome. I don’t think I’ve really got a favorite piece. They’re just so good I can’t choose one above any other. I will remember that they brought a lot of Oklahomans out, who sat beside each other and patted each others’ hands and had some camaraderie and that everybody here tonight was happy! It was a very, very, very welcoming experience."

-- Willa Johnson

Hogs and Dogs - Oklahoma City

First the Dogs
Across the street from the hotel is the 
OKC Summer Dog Show
Meet Scarlet NoHaira.  Yup! That's really her name.

Some pups are more than happy to be there!
Some aren't so sure.

No, what you hear is NOT one of the Chipmunks; it's actually the owner!

As a dog lover, I've always been intrigued by events such as these, but this is the first I have attended. This definitely has a culture all its own!

Then the Hogs

Just three blocks from our hotel 23,000 bikers converge on Bricktown!

Everyone on the street has either a tattoo or a Tabernacle Choir name tag. Now THAT'S a contrast if I've ever seen one!

"Ya'll with that Mormon Choir? Stick around another ten minutes and we'll all get naked!" Needless to say we are back in our hotel room within nine.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The "Wild West" of Kansas City

Today's first stop is Independence, Missouri,where we choose to board a mule-drawn wagon and listen to stories of the local celebrities, Wild Bill Hickok and Harry S. Truman. 
This is the BEST chocolate peanut butter ice cream I have ever tasted - hands down!

Gratefully it is a bit cooler today, so we walk the few blocks to see...
The Community of Christ (former Reorganized LDS church) Temple. They do not believe in temple ordinances as we do, but use this as a gathering place for learning and decision making.Across the street is the visitor's center for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Audrey expresses what we are each feeling when she mentioned, "The feeling was just so different in the two places." It is such a blessing to have the truths of the restored gospel!

A short documentary -- The temple lot is owned by another offspring church (the little white one right behind me.)

Don't you just love the sneak peeker in the background? I do!
A replica of the Liberty Jail stands in the original spot. The Prophet Joseph Smith spent approximately five months here awaiting trial. While here he received three revelations that are recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants.

During the winter months in which they were held in the basement jail, they suffered from intense cold and exposure to the elements because of the small slits in the walls that served as windows. The men slept on dirty straw and suffered poisoning attempts and insults. However, Joseph's biggest grievance was not his own condition of imprisonment but the knowledge that the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were suffering untold anguish that he could not prevent.

In April 1839, Joseph and his fellow prisoners were transported to Gallatin, Missouri, for a grand jury hearing. When that hearing was complete, the prisoners were told they would be moved to the jail in Boone County. While on the journey from Gallatin, the men guarding the Prophet and his friends allowed Joseph and the others to escape. The Church leaders, in a very weakened condition, soon caught up with the main body of the Church.

The Sound Check

Prior to each concert in each location we have a 1 1/2 hour sound check. This gives the sound people a chance to balance the mikes, etc. for that particular venue. 
Mack spot checks the difficult passages and adjusts the choir's balance and intonation.

Ryan Murphy our new assistant conductor listens from various locations.

Conducting the Choir and Orchestra at sound check is Bryan Busby, a meteorologist for TV station KMBC Channel 9 here in Kansas City. Bryan recieved this “gift” on air. Today is his birthday. How would you like this for YOUR birthday present?

The Concert
The Sprint Center

I thought it was out of this world.  I liked it from the very moment it began until the end.  I liked the variety. I think it touched everybody’s heart.” --Leann Diskin

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Meeting Up with Muffet -- Kansas City

We are off again - to Kansas City this time.

Line of choir and orchestra members up the escalator... the elevators. Can you imagine 600 people converging on three elevators?! The stout-hearted find the stairs, the determined ones find the freight elevator.

We have a dear friend, Muffet Petrehn, who lives in Kansas City. (We met Muffet on our first photographic trip to Italy. She is the one who had the gumption to swim with the two of us in Lake Orta. We became fast friends.) Muffet picks us up from the hotel and whisks us away from the choir crowd for a famous Jack Stack Kansas Barbecue.
And on to her home and photo studio.
Lovely place. Wonderful evening.

A Kansas Storm blows us back to our hotel. We will see Muffet again tomorrow. She and her children will be attending our concert here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sight-Seeing Choir Style -- Omaha, Nebraska

Don't let anyone ever tell you that the choir and orchestra don't get any time for sight-seeing on these tours! Today we have two and one-half hours to visit three sights! 
Our first stop is Winter Quarters. Early pioneers who had been driven from their homes in Nauvoo, Illinois spent the winter of 1846-1847 in this area. They constructed hundreds of shelters to provide a safe haven for the Saints to gain strength prior to their continued trek to the Salt Lake Valley. 
Six hundred saints lost their lives and were buried here. This monument was erected "that the struggles, the sacrifices, the sufferings of the faithful pioneers and the cause they represented might never be forgotten..."

A beautiful new temple now stands at this historic location.

Our second stop is the Kanesville Tabernacle, a replica of the original built by the early Saints in just two and one-half weeks. It was here that Brigham Young was sustained as the second president and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Unfortunately for us, it is 107 degrees outside, the line stretches in the sun all the way to the street, the presentation inside is 15 minutes long, and we only have ten before our bus pulls out. We opt to stand in the shade were we can sense a breeze here and there and enjoy the building from the outside.
Our third and final stop is the Western Historic Trails Center. By now it is just TOO HOT to be outside so we stay inside to experience the exhibit, the theater, or help clean out the gift shop cooler of all its cold drinks.

So this is sight-seeing Tabernacle Choir style:  

As Deseret News writer, Gerry Avant, puts it, "Being (here) but not having time to savor the experience is about as satisfying as taking only a morsel at a table laden with food. But a small taste is better than no taste at all."

We check into two different hotels today and somehow Randy and I end up at the wrong one! "I thought YOU checked our packet." "I thought YOU did." Gratefully Larry, driver from bus #8, drives just the two of us to the right place. Thanks for saving us, Larry. I hope we were able to sneak away without being seen!  

The Concert
Tonight our concert is at the Holland Performing Arts Center, the only concert hall experience we will have on this tour. 

We enjoy the live acoustics, the true sound, the balance and blend. The hymn, "Come, Come Ye Saints" holds more significance tonight.
Mannheim Steamroller's Chip Davis conducts "This Land is Your Land". 

"To have the opportunity to work with this choir that is so famous and so great to work with really gave me a wonderful opportunity that you don't get everyday," he said. "They are respected worldwide. It just doesn't get any better as far as choirs go. I think they are probably without a doubt the best known [choir] and their reputation is well deserved."