The Mormon Tabernacle Choir performed for one of the largest audiences in its history Thursday.
Some 8,000 people gathered in Zurich's Hallenstadion, a multi-purpose arena, to hear the choir present a program of classical music, hymns and folk songs."Tonight, I have witnessed a miracle," said choir president Wendell M. Smoot Jr. "In all our travels, the choir has never entertained an audience as large as tonight."
The choir began its memorable performance with a number of quiet, subdued songs. During the performance in front of a captive audience composed of people from France, Germany, Italy, Austria and Switzerland, there was almost total silence and little movement from the crowd.
During the last half of the concert the audience participated by clapping along with, "Come, Come Ye Saints." And as the concert concluded, they gave a thunderous applause, stamping their feet, shouting for encores, and cheering.
One of the audience's favorite songs was an American folk number called "Cindy," in which choir members rhythmically clapped their hands. The altos clapped to one rhythm while the sopranos clapped to another.
The choir also performed patriotic songs including, "When the Saints Go Marching In," and "Battle Hymn of the Republic," in which conductor Jerald D. Ottley turned to the audience and motioned for them to join in the final chorus.
Before the concert began, crowds filled the streets in front of the Hallenstadion in hopes of getting a ticket to the performance, which eventually sold out.
"The choir is 143 years old. It has sung before presidents, kings, rulers, and by the conclusion of this tour, it will have performed in 24 or more countries," said Smoot during a VIP reception following the concert. The reception was attended by dignitaries, including representatives from national and local governments and music organizations.
A recording of the performance will be televised by the Swiss national television network for broadcast throughout Switzerland.
On Friday the choir traveled more than 12 hours from Zurich to Vienna, Austria and is to resume travel Saturday to Budapest, Hungary where it will present a concert in the Budapest Opera House that evening. A recording of that performance will be broadcast as part of a later, "Music and the Spoken Word" program which will be broadcast Sunday.