Tour Diary #5 - Singing Loud and Proud to Find Common Ground
Written By: Don Seamons, Mormon Tabernacle Choir Member
When the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square go on tour, the local Church committee for each concert venue, in consultation with Choir leadership and Public Affairs, always invites a few local guests to sing with the Choir and Orchestra when we do our venue rehearsals and sound checks. The guests are unique. We’ve hosted students, ministers, teachers, politicians, and all sorts of professionals. They usually have some musical background and are completely delighted by the opportunity to actually sing with the Choir during rehearsals.
Our guests at the rehearsal at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View were members of three local choral groups, including singers from the San Jose Pop Up Choir, the Grand Chamber Group, and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus (SFGMC). The latter group is a 40-year-old Bay Area institution of more than 300 voices. In addition to hosting these vocalists, as part of a long-standing Choir tradition to highlight local leaders at each venue, the SFGMC artistic director and conductor, Dr. Tim Seelig, conducted one of our encores at the show that night.
I had a few of these SFGMC singers stand next to me, and I was impressed. They were great musicians. They picked up the music without any trouble. The men around me didn’t have much chance to chat—we were rehearsing, after all—but we shared a few pleasantries and cracked a few jokes and just had a wonderful time making music together.
Singing with them was no big deal, but it was also a big deal. It wasn’t a big deal to me because we sing with all sorts of guests, from all walks of life, from all over the world. It is the music that unites us. We don’t focus on our differences; we focus on our shared love of music. But it was out of the ordinary because some people have a perception that Latter-day Saints and the LGBTQ community don’t mix. Dr. Seelig, the SFGMC director, acknowledged the past strained relations, but he also perfectly captured the sentiment I felt during our rehearsal of the piece he conducted. He said that music is what brought us together and the music in this case is all that matters.
I love music. I love being a small part of a large organization that promotes what I hold dear through songs of love and praise. As a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, I sing to share my faith and what I believe in. After this sound check and concert, I have a new appreciation that my new friends in the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus are doing the very same thing as they sing and perform