Day 8- Minneapolis
Alto - Mormon Tabernacle Choir
I've only been a part of the Choir for three years, but the Choir has been a part of me for nearly 37 years. Minnesota, with its choral tradition and strong music programs in every school, was the perfect place to prepare me for my lifelong dream of joining the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. My family remains in Minnesota, and the Choir has become my Utah family. When it was announced that we were heading to Minneapolis, I knew it was exactly so that my two families could finally meet. I'm still not sure if I am more excited about sharing the Choir with Minnesota or showing Minnesota to the Choir. Today has been a beautiful culmination, a perfect reunion. We started out our morning at our downtown hotel, just blocks from my old workplace, and hopped the Hiawatha Line for Minnehaha Falls. This was the perfect spot for me to drag my wonderful Utah family to meet with my Minnesota family. My parents, brother and sisters, and 22 nieces and nephews met us there, and I got to introduce my mountain family to Minnesota's beauty. My mom certainly felt some panic that I would invite all 580 of my traveling companions along for a picnic, but she agreed to make my favorite Mississippi mud bars and trust my judgment.
After my family picnic, we Choir folk headed in for the sound check, where I was again reunited with more of my best memories. The last time I performed at the Target Center was in 1994, my senior year of high school, at the state high school hockey championship game. How times change! I've been telling anyone in my Choir family who will listen how important this Minnesota concert is for me. Where elsewhere the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is accepted as “America's Choir,” here in Minnesota, the choral tradition is so very strong we couldn't rest on our laurels but would have to prove it. In the land of St. Olaf and Dale Warland, of Stephen Paulus, Dominick Argento, and Rene Claussen, we would have to step up and be our very best. Here is where we must truly earn a standing ovation. As more personal motivation, I knew that my own high school band director and his wife, my high school English teacher, Jim and Carol Hallan, were in the audience. What an awesome thing to reunite with Mr. Hallan, who I still consider to be the most influential teacher from those teenage years. Despite the fact that we were the band, he used to have us sing at concerts, ending every school year with "God Bless America." I think the best way to thank the teacher who taught me the song and gave me the courage to find my voice is to return with “America's Choir” and sing for him.
The concert was perfect. Brian Newhouse did a marvelous job not only introducing the Choir and Orchestra, but introducing Minnesota to us. Mack Wilberg had reminded us again that of all of our audiences, this was our most discerning, but I think Brian's invitation for the audience to welcome us in four-part harmony really brought the message home to my Utah family. Minnesota sang a beautiful "Welcome Back" and made me proud. The women around me sat a little taller, and my neighbor marveled, "He asked for an E and they knew; they sang it!" A Minnesota audience is no ordinary audience! The Choir stepped up and even earned a few of Mack's rare and treasured dimpled smiles along the way.
My families share their two greatest loves. In Minnesota, we are people of faith and we are musicians. In the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, we strive to share our faith through music. I might even say that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has been a piece of Minnesota in Utah. For me, there is no more perfect way to cap off this tour than to unite my two families in the peace of all that we hold dear.