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The Tabernacle Choir Blog

In 1934 Henry Ford Invited and Sponsored the Choir to Perform in Chicago

The Century of Progress Exposition was a World’s Fair held in Chicago between 1933 and 1934. As part of the event, Ford Motor Company constructed its own exhibit that featured, among other things, a museum and concert hall. Subsequently, Ford would bring in musical acts, including the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. A history of the Choir’s involvement in Chicago is documented in A Century of Singing, a book by J. Spencer Cornwall. An excerpt is below:

In 1934 the First Presidency of the Church received a request from Henry Ford, president of the Ford Motor Company, asking them to consider the advisability of sending the choir to Chicago to appear in concert at the Century of Progress Exposition, under the sponsorship of the Ford Company. The Presidency accepted the invitation, and George D. Pyper, manager of the 1911 New York tour, was again chosen to manage the tour to Chicago. W. Jack Thomas, who was to figure so prominently as tour manager of the choir subsequently, was assistant manager of this tour.

The choir arrived in Chicago September 10, 1934. Concerts were given at the Ford Symphony Gardens of the Century of Progress Exposition twice daily at 2 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. The weather was rather damp and cold, but, nevertheless, all of the concerts were well attended, and the comments of the critics generally commendatory.

 

Later, the Ford employee who managed the company’s presence at the Century of Progress Exposition told the Deseret News:

Chicago music lovers considered the choir appearance here one of the outstanding musical events of the season. Critics and laymen alike consider its concerts one of the most successful entertainments offered during the entire year by the Ford Exposition.

The Choir made such an impact on Mr. Ford that it was invited the following year to perform at the company’s exhibit in San Diego. The Choir’s performances were sold out for a week straight during the San Diego performances