"9/11 | Coming Together" 20th Anniversary Special

The Tabernacle Choir Blog

Choir Wows Saratoga Audience

Daily Tour Diary 6

Will Francis


Being a child of the mountains and deserts of the West, I usually feel claustrophobic and disoriented in the flat humid lands across most of the United States. This morning, though, after leaving Manhattan and heading north to Albany and Saratoga Springs, we began winding through the rocky forests of the Adirondack Mountains, and I began feeling more at home. What a beautiful land! What blessed people!

I was keeping a very close watch on the clouds and wind as we travelled. Our last concert was made rather "complicated" by unruly weather. When we arrived at The Saratoga Center for the Arts, however, the conditions were perfect. It was a great relief, and I imagine we all felt it.

After our sound check I went in search of some audience members to talk to. We had been told that the tickets for this concert were all sold very quickly and I wanted to know why. Saratoga is to date our largest audience since leaving Salt Lake City.  

The truth is that I never really found out why we have so many supporters here, but I did start to wonder about something else entirely, i.e., why am I, Will Francis—music teacher from Logan, Utah—sharing marquis space with the likes of The Philadelphia Orchestra, The New York City Ballet, and the National Ballet of China? Several of the people I talked to were very excited to tell me how often they come here to The Saratoga Center for the Arts. They have tickets this summer for all of the ensembles I have mentioned, and the tickets for our concert were especially difficult to get.

Now, I know that as a whole the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is a very famous organization. They're good. The Orchestra at Temple Square, my ensemble, is making a good showing in the Choir's shadow. We all work very hard at what we do. The fact, however, is that we are volunteers. While many of us have one or more college degrees in music, few of us are full-time performers. Why can volunteer musicians command the same audiences as the full-time, world-class performers that I see advertised along side us at every venue we visit?

I'm sure I am not the best person to analyze this question and deliver an adequate answer. I'm just a horn player. 11-plus years with the organization, though, has given me time to notice something unique as we perform. It is that we always perform with a message. Surely, we strive for technically flawless concerts every time just like all world famous groups on the marquee, but that is not our prime objective. Our goal is to communicate peace, and gentleness, hope, and kindness to our audiences. Other ensembles I play with, whether in studio or on stage, are first concerned with technical accuracy and then maybe some conveyance of emotion. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir puts the heart and soul of the audience first, and that, I think, is why people seek us on radio, television, Internet, and at live concerts like the one tonight in Saratoga.