7 Things Choir Members do on the Tour Bus
Have you ever wondered what the members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir do when they’re on a tour bus for hours at a time? We talked to some Choir members to get their perspective, and some of the answers might surprise you. Click here for a glimpse into one of the Choir's 11 tour buses.
1. Story time
On a trip across upstate New York, when Choir members were feeling a little tired and weary, a Choir member decided to cheer up his fellow passengers. He told a personal story about himself and his wife and had everyone laughing and crying. When he concluded his story, he asked everyone to share two things: 1) something about himself or herself that no one would know, and 2) one bucket list item. “It turned into one of the most memorable and surprisingly moving experiences of that tour for me. One by one, people shared humorous childhood anecdotes, tender stories about courtship, fun secret hobbies, and exciting ‘bucket list’ dreams," said Choir member Holly Abel. She added, “When we finally reached our destination, the bus driver opened the door but for a few seconds no one moved. It was like no one wanted to be the one to ‘break the spell.’ We were actually sad the moment was over but ever so grateful that we had taken the journey together.”
2. Memorizing Music
You’ve heard the famous joke—“How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice!” Well, that’s just what you might find Choir members doing on the tour bus. The 30-plus musical numbers for tour will be sung entirely from memory, which means a lot of memorizing needs to take place, especially considering the amount of harmonizing that goes on. The complex arrangements—many from the mind of the Choir’s music director, Mack Wilberg—require intense preparation and focus.
Touring is tiring. Airplane rides, singing, walking, talking, and sightseeing can be tiring, so by the time the Choir gets on the bus, it’s lights out for some. If you can get to sleep on a crowded bus, you might as well take advantage of it.
The bus is a great time to read the scriptures, a good book, or a magazine or to study up on the next tour stop. When Choir members happen to get a moment of time off, they often read up on what to do in a particular city.
5. Getting to Know Each Other
Sitting next to the same people week after week in the Choir loft sometimes makes it possible to be unfamiliar with other people who might be only a few rows away. Because Choir members are usually seated by height, people of the same height are often the most familiar with each other.
Singing on the bus happens occasionally, but Choir members try to make their time on the bus one of rest and relaxation. A random singing of “Happy Birthday” has been known to happen in the past. The Choir has also occasionally sung “God Be with You Till We Meet Again” to the bus drivers.
7. Eat Philly Cheesesteaks
Choir member Shipley Munson recalls “the bus that broke down in Philly long enough to get authentic Philly Cheese subs from a street vendor.” When in Philadelphia . . . eat like the Philadelphians do.