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LDS CHOIR SINGS AT `TOUCHING' CEREMONY

The 100-voice Mormon Choir of Washington, D.C., provided patriotic music for the Memorial Day Observance Ceremony here, in which Gen. Colin L. Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gave the keynote address.

The ceremony was held May 27 at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. More than 3,000 people attended the service."Being at the memorial wall is quite a unique experience and something very special," said Gene Morlan, choir director. "We were honored and pleased to be a part of this particular event this year.

"We had a number of individuals express appreciation for the fitting and inspiring music," he related. "You feel something in the air when you are at the wall. There is a rather hushed silence."

Gen. Powell spoke with Elder Richard B. Wirthlin, regional representative for the Church in the Potomac region, after the ceremony. Elder Wirthlin offered the benediction at the event.

"We chatted afterward and he said that he was personally inspired by the choir singing and especially touched by the fervor and spirit with which they sang the `Battle Hymn of the Republic,' " Elder Wirthlin said. "It was a very touching ceremony."

This year was the first time a large choral group was invited to participate in the Memorial Day observance, Brother Morlan remarked. "We felt we contributed to the success of the ceremony.

"As I watched the faces of choir members, all were caught up in the spirit of the event. There was a feeling of patriotism, and being able to contribute to that meant a lot to individual choir members."

As master of ceremonies, Jan C. Scruggs, president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, expressed his appreciation for the choir. He said he was aware of the kind of people Mormons are - always giving back to the community.

The choir, in its 11th season, has appeared in various locations throughout the U.S. capital, including the White House, the Kennedy Center, Constitution Hall and the National Press Club. The choir has presented concerts with the U.S. Army Band and provided music for such events as the 1990 Music Educator's National Conference. The group performed May 18 at a "Welcome Home Troops" Celebration at the University of Maryland.

With Nancy S. Reid as accompanist, the choir is also scheduled to sing June 8 at Georgetown University with the Washington Civic Symphony in performances of "Song of Democracy" for the "Polish American Tribute to Paderewski."

In addition, the choir will give a series of concerts of patriotic and Americana music throughout the summer, including "Liberty," a musical celebration of freedom with narration.