Tour Diary 5—Performing to Our Largest Audience in Zurich!
Contributed by Tamara Oswald, Orchestra at Temple Square member
Grueze Miteinand from schoene Switzerland!! (Greetings to each of you from beautiful Switzerland!)
Our large entourage of Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square members entered Switzerland around 11:30 am on July 6, 2016 with many opportunities for cell phone cameras to capture beautiful views of Lake Konstanz from the bus windows. Anticipation was high as we drove by this fabled land of mountains and chocolate. Although the high “alpenlands” are not visible from that part of this tiny country, we did see ample examples of happy cows and goats and well-kept farms. (And we know that happy cows produce the best chocolate!)
Zurich’s Hallenstadion was our largest venue on the 2016 European tour for the Choir and Orchestra! This meant that Choir enthusiasts and members had to use Swiss ingenuity to sell a lot of tickets. (For example, running ads in the central train station during the busiest time of each day with "Call of the Champions" being played throughout the station.) Not only did they sell nearly 4,000 tickets, they were also able to raise money to erect large screens on either side of the stage.
This city of Zurich holds particular meaning to me as I lived here as a young adult and met and married my Swiss husband here as well. Even though we left for the USA early on in our 30+ years of marriage, we have returned numerous times to visit family and to make and keep dear friendships. The night of the concert was a return of celebration!
One facet of Choir tours that many people are not aware of are the VIP receptions prior to every concert. Local and national dignitaries and business people are invited to learn more about the Choir organization and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since my first tour with the Choir and Orchestra in 2001 as principal harpist, Jeannine Goeckeritz, principal flautist, and I have provided background music for dozens of these receptions. I had been looking forward to this one for a LONG TIME, and I was not disappointed. The oblong room was packed—and everyone seemed to arrive EARLY--a Swiss trait! We were told that until the day before, 100 had responded, but 80 more RSVP’d in the 24 hours leading up to the concert.
A photographer met everyone as they came through the door. a guest book was ready to be signed, and the greetings from committee member Daniel Daetwyler, showcased true Swiss language capability as he launched into a lengthy introduction of the Choir in German, English, French AND Italian! (German, French and Italian being 3 of the 4 official Swiss languages.) The honored guest for this evening was the U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland Suzan LeVine and her husband. Also in attendance were political leaders, businessmen, diplomats and healthcare professionals. Elder Whitney Clayton, the Church’s Senior President of the Presidency of the Seventy who was assigned to travel with us, and Mormon Tabernacle Choir President, Ron Jarrett, also greeted the crowd through the able help of interpreter and German-born choir member, Sonja Sperling Poulter.
Soon it was time to find assigned seats for the evening performance, but with an invitation to return afterwards for more refreshments and a chance to share impressions of the concert. And in the second half, this harpist proudly waved a mini-Swiss flag when Lloyd Newell asked the Choir and Orchestra group in front of the Hallenstadion audience, “Does anyone have connections to Switzerland?”