The Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s final stop on this summer’s tour was in Boston, Massachusetts, at the prestigious Wang Theatre. During the soundcheck, Danielle Tumminio was able to sing with the Choir’s soprano section. Tumminio is an Episcopal priest and a three-time graduate from Yale University. She holds a doctorate in practical theology from Boston University, has taught at Yale and Tufts, and is currently chaplain at the Groton School. In her own words, her original intent for being there was to “describe what it was like to perform with such an elite group.” She ended up getting more out of the experience than she expected.
Tumminio grew up singing in a prestigious girls choir at an Episcopal cathedral on Long Island, where she learned the value of blending and being a part of something larger than the individual. She said, “I learned that we sing not to glorify ourselves, but to glorify something beyond and to inspire others to do the same.” She added, “I learned that, as St. Augustine says, when you sing, you pray twice. And that's why I credit my early choir days with instilling a lifelong love of God that eventually led me to ordination in The Episcopal Church.”
Tumminio reports that as she sang, she realized that she shared many values and similarities with the Choir. They were focused, they had musical leaders who had formed them, and they even had to be reminded to blend together as her choirmaster had taught her once upon a time.
Tumminio referred to choirs as a metaphor for life as a person of faith and added, “We encounter so many people who are different than us, who believe different things. But we are all part of God’s creation, all members of a kind of earthly choir.” She talked about the importance of listening to the voices around us to discover how we blend and what we share in common with each other.
In reflecting on her experience of singing and blending as one with the Choir, Tumminio said: “I got to glorify God beside hundreds of others who believe things that are different from what I believe. In that way, the choir was certainly a musical ambassador to me.” She continued, “But on that afternoon, the focus wasn’t on the details of our traditions. It was on creating a single choir that praised God.”