Mormon Tabernacle Choir Blog

Tour Diary #6 - Have You Ever Been Hugged by an Entire Choir?

Written By: Emily Rice, Member of the Orchestra at Temple Square

Have you ever been hugged by an entire choir? How about the entire Mormon Tabernacle Choir all at once? That’s how I felt as a member of the Orchestra at Temple Square sitting on stage at Weill Hall + Lawn at the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California. It was unforgettable.

In introductory remarks, the Choir and Orchestra were introduced as the largest performing ensembles to ever take this stage. In order to fit all 350-plus of us on stage, some Choir members were placed behind the Orchestra and more were up on two additional balconies, which brought singers on both sides beyond the front of the Orchestra. This created a feeling of almost singing-in-the-round! Although unusual, I felt that viewing the singers individually on levels was a more personal and intimate type of connection for the audience.

My position as a violinist places me immediately facing our director, just feet away. Full string sections are to my right and left, and winds and brass behind. Because of tonight’s formation of the Choir, their marvelous wave of sound didn’t come from behind this time, but from all sides and above, encircling the Orchestra in remarkable sound—a warm, electrifying choir hug, if you will. The hall then perfectly delivered this same effect to everyone in the room.

Two years ago, the Choir had the privilege of performing in Vienna’s Musikverein concert hall, one of the finest concert halls in the world, and one could not deny the striking similarities here at Weill Hall. However, unlike the Musikverein, Weill Hall’s sleek-lined, wood-crafted indoor space opened through the back to a gorgeous lawn, where additional audience members enjoyed the concert with amplified sound and a large jumbotron screen. Perhaps it was like peering into a beautiful German Easter egg: a stunning European scene of choir, orchestra, and audience! The enthusiasm from the lawn attendees could be felt back to the stage through cheers and whistles.

During our performance, Lloyd Newell tenderly dedicated this concert to the healing of those currently rebuilding from the local wildfires that were so devastating to this area last year—some of the most destructive in our country. With this purpose in our hearts, each musician offered our love through song. But who is to say that we weren’t more affected?