What Can We Learn from Mormon Tabernacle Choir Members on Tour?
The mission of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square is to unite people throughout the world through their music and to bring joy, peace, and healing to their audiences. To fulfill that mission, starting in1893, the Choir has toured across the United States and abroad. It has performed throughout Europe and in music capitals from Israel and Russia to Japan and Australia.
Today when the Mormon Tabernacle Choir organization tours, it requires traveling with 11 busloads of 300-plus Choir members, approximately 65 Orchestra at Temple Square musicians, and a large group of staff members and support staff—all of whom who are volunteers using their personal vacation time to perform and make the tour work. Participating in a tour of this large size makes demands on everyone who participates. Before tour there are countless hours spent preparing, rehearsing, and memorizing—and then there is the actual traveling on tour. It’s enjoyable, but it’s not a vacation.
In spite of the challenges of this large choral group, the amazing thing is that when difficulties appear, there is always someone there to help find solutions. See a line? Get in it! Waiting in lines? Not a problem! Can’t find your luggage? Someone will always be there to help! New members soon learn that the challenge of traveling with this large group becomes a joyful and rewarding experience.
During the summer of 1991, Church President Russell M. Nelson, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, had the privilege of accompanying the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on its historic three-week concert tour to Europe and Russia. President Nelson’s wife, Dantzel, who accompanied him on that tour, was a soprano in the Choir from 1967 to 1986. (This tour was before the organization of the Orchestra at Temple Square in 1999.)
When later speaking of his Mormon Tabernacle Choir tour experience to a worldwide audience at a general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he spoke of the examples of traits he had observed in Choir members when they toured and what everyone could learn from their examples. “They are ordinary people with ordinary frailties. But therein lies the power of their example.”
Using what he observed, he spoke to the audience expressing his belief that all of us could all learn to have the same traits he had witnessed while on tour. Here are some examples of behaviors that he mentioned:
Faith: “They knew of [the Choir’s] potential for good and had the faith that countless obstacles could be overcome. … If each of us could muster that same faith in the service we are called to render, we would also be blessed.”
Knowledge: “To communicate more effectively, the Choir sang in ten languages! … Study was required to determine which songs should be sung. … Just think of the good you can do if you accept a difficult challenge and pursue knowledge—then use it to bless others, as did the Choir!”
Patience: “Patience is one of the most practiced attributes of Choir members. Checking into a hotel with a group of five hundred travelers and more than a thousand pieces of luggage provided practice in patience nearly every day. … If they can do it, each of us can also develop that precious talent of patience.”
Brotherly Kindness: “Brotherly kindness was a hallmark of this tour. Never did I hear a disparaging remark. … Each of us can develop brotherly kindness at home, at school, at work, or at play.”
Charity: “I saw Choir members extend that love to countless souls. For those in need, members quietly contributed money, food, and goods. They shared freely of their precious time and talent without any thought of personal acclaim or recompense. Truly, ‘charity never faileth’ (1 Cor. 13:8) any of us.”
Godliness: “It comes of concentration and consecration. Godliness characterizes each of you who truly loves the Lord. … From their hearts the Choir sang one number [“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”] which bore testimony of love so amazing, so divine. Tears moistened the faces of more than a few as they expressed personal feelings of conversion and commitment to godliness.”
Read President Russell M. Nelson’s full talk here.