The Tabernacle Choir Blog

The Choir and Orchestra Perform in Berlin, Germany for the First Time in 25 years!

For the first time since 1991—25 years—the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performed in Berlin, Germany on Thursday, June  29, 2016. This concert--the first of the Choir’s seven city European concerts--had been eagerly anticipated since it i was announced late last summer. Those who attend the Choir’s 1991 Berlin concert still remember the excitement and thrill of seeing the Choir and a special historic event that occurred that same day.

On July 20, 1991, the Choir performed two concerts– matinee and evening—at the Schauspielhaus, a “spectacular building located in the former East Berlin. The Berlin concerts were part of a twenty-two-day tour of Eastern Europe by the Choir that was considered to be historic because it was the first time the Choir had visited Eastern Bloc countries.

But this day, June 20, 1991, in Berlin, Germany, was particularly important for the Germans. “I attended both concerts and I will remember the evening concert forever,” said Gabriele Sirtl, director of public affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Before World War II, Berlin had been the capital of Germany but after the war, the city of Berlin was divided. East Berlin became the capital of East Germany while West Berlin became a de facto West German exclave, surrounded by the Berlin Wall and East Germany territory. Following the unification into one Germany on October 3, 1990, Berlin had once again been designated as the capital of the united Germany but the actual relocation of the government offices and parliament to Berlin had not yet been determined.

On the day of the Choir concert, June 20, after debates that day lasting over eleven-hours  in the Bundestag (German Parliament) regarding the transfer of its offices and the Chancellor’s office and cabinet from Bonn to Berlin, the decision was made. It had been a very heated and emotional debate and the outcome—yes or no to Berlin—had not been sure.

When the Choir’s concert that evening came to a close, Herold Gregory, then an administrative assistant of the choir and former East German mission president [1953-57] in Berlin, stepped up on the stage and announced to the entire audience that the Bundestag had “just voted a few minutes ago to transfer its offices, the nation’s chancellor, and the  cabinet from Bonn to Berlin. The response was earsplitting!” reported tour director W, Jack Thomas.

“All were on their feet giving standing ovations. Strangers hugged and kissed the people standing next to them. I think there was not a dry eye in the audience as the Berliners knew what this meant to Berlin.”  The announcement of the government offices and parliament moving to Berlin as its capital city was a manifestation to the world of the unification of the two Germanys and a first step of Berlin becoming a world city of “culture, media, science and tourism again with many of Germany’s and Europe’s elite moving to what is today a cosmopolitan, vibrant city, ” said Sirtl.

For the June 29, 2016 concert the Choir was joined for the first time on a European concert by the Orchestra at Temple Square which added a depth and richness to the evening’s music performance. The Choir and Orchestra were at their finest with a broad range of music styles and tempos. When their second and final encore of the concert, the Choir’s signature song, “God Be With You, Till We Meet Again” was sung in German to the audience, the audience warmly rewarded of the Choir and Orchestra with long, sustained applause for their outstanding performance—not wanting the performance to end.

“What a wonderful way to start our tour in Europe,” said Ron Jarrett, Choir President. “We‘ve made friends and more wonderful memories of Berlin at the concert tonight.”