Encores and Standing Ovations for a Thrilled Berlin Audience!
For the first time in 25 years, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir returned to Berlin, Germany. As the first stop on the 2016 European Tour, the Berliner Philharmonie Concert Hall was sold out and the audience was electric. Before the show began the crowd waited patiently in anticipation of the doors opening. When music director Mack Wilberg took the stage, they respectfully applauded and then quickly hushed and gave their complete attention to every note of the music. The first act was filled with classical pieces such as “Cum, Sancto Spiritu,” “Alleluia,” from Psalm 150, “Unfold, Ye Portals,” and more. The act finished with “Hymn of Praise” (“The Old Hundredth”). When the first act finished, the hall erupted with cheers and whistles.
If audiences didn’t know any better, they might think that classical music was all the Choir had to offer—but this wasn’t the case at all. The second act shifted gears, beginning with the world music sounds of “Ah, el novio no quere dinero!” followed by “Betelehemu,” both of which feature thrilling and surprising choreography.
Five songs from America followed, including “Pilgrim Song,” “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” “Battle of Jericho,” “Deep River,” and “Cindy.” At the conclusion of the “Battle of Jericho” an audible “Woah!” was heard from an excited audience member before the entire crowd applauded for a lengthy amount of time. Perhaps the line “and the walls come tumbling down” was a reminder of the wall that divided East and West Germany for so many years.
The remains of the Berlin Wall
It is worth noting that the Orchestra at Temple Square is new to German audiences who may not have seen the Choir since the 1990s. The Orchestra adds a new dimension to the previous “organ only” sound of the Choir of years past and was established in 1999 to enhance the Choir’s signature sound.
The Brandenburg Gate
The last section of the concert was announced by Lloyd Newell, host of Music and Spoken Word. Newell was joined on stage by a German Choir member, Sonja Sperling Poulter, who translated his words for audience members. Newell even joked “Sonja, your German is really good!” After the announcement, three hymns from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints followed—“Come, Come, Ye Saints,” “How Firm a Foundation,” and “The Spirit of God.” Two encores then capped of a wonderful night in Berlin, starting with “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and then “God Be with You Till We Meet Again,” which was sung in German, “Gott Sei Mitt Euch.”
In attendance were government, civic, religious, and educational leaders including Senior President of the Quoroms of the Seventy, Elder L. Whitney Clayton.