An aura of friendship is about to spread from Salt Lake City to eight countries in Europe as the Tabernacle Choir departs June 8 on a 21-day singing tour.
Long recognized as one of the best-loved choirs in the world, these LDS singers will present 12 concerts in 11 cities. While the choir has performed in the past in three of the countries on the tour - Germany, France and Switzerland - the remaining countries are new ground. For the first time the choir will sing in Hungary, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Soviet Union.One can only imagine the positive impact the choir's 314 touring singers will have upon the thousands who attend the concerts. Television will expand the choir's potential audience to millions, giving countless numbers their first glimpse of the world-famous choir, as well as their first exposure to the Church they represent.
Reactions from past choir performances serve as a barometer of what might be expected:
- A Chinese physician who attended a Sunday morning choir broadcast with a delegation of other doctors from her country remarked afterward, "That music refined our souls."
- A woman, in writing of a concert she attended, said it "seemed to be a gift from God."
- A news director who attended a choir concert with several colleagues said he watched many "hardened news people leave the Tabernacle wiping tears from their eyes."
- A couple from Illinois attended a rehearsal and heard the choir sing. The woman said, "I was certain I could have flown right out of the Tabernacle on wings of song."
- A regional representative described his feelings of having heard the choir in person while it was on a concert tour in Canada. He said, "It seemed to me that the choir was filled with a power and spirit beyond their own excellence. It seemed that they were joined by legions of voices from the unseen world, praising God for the atoning sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ."
He added, "I am happy to see that the Tabernacle Choir is more than a renowned organization with international reputation. I am happy to see that it is more than a `goodwill ambassador' for the Church (which is nevertheless an important role). I am most grateful that the Tabernacle Choir . . . [isT the vehicle for conveying the `voice of the Lord' into the hearts of the children of men, for the `elect' will hear that voice and harden not their hearts."
- A new member of the Church wrote an open letter to choir members, describing their role in the conversion of her husband and herself. They attended a concert as the choir performed while on tour in their city. They knew practically nothing of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Upon arrival [at the concertT I had a constant feeling I was going to meet someone I knew, an old friend or someone I hadn't seen for a long time," she wrote. "I found myself scanning the crowd for just such a person. It didn't happen, but the feeling grew stronger. [My husbandT felt it too. Gradually it began to dawn on us that this warm friendly feeling was coming from the crowd as a whole. We felt as though everyone there was family. To feel such warmth from such a large crowd is rather unusual. Then the choir began to file in and the energy rose even more. As they began to sing, I thought that I would surely burst with love. Tears came to my eyes.
After . . . we arrived home, we found ourselves far too excited and energized to sleep and we began discussing Mormons, what little we knew of them. We both agreed that whatever were the Mormon beliefs, they must certainly be true in order for Mormons to emit such an aura of friendship as we had felt."
- A man from the Soviet Union - one of the places the choir will perform on this tour - attended a choir concert in Salt Lake City. He said, "Since I have come to the United States, people have asked me what is my strongest impression. I can tell you now. It is the singing of your choir. . . . As the choir sang, I had a very strong impression. Although I do not speak English, I felt with my heart that they were sincerely expressing my feelings. My relation with God was expressed in earthly feelings through their singing. . . . I have a new understanding of your Church."
Choir members have made extra efforts to learn hymns and songs in the languages of the countries in which they will perform the next 21 days. Still, their best form of communication with their audiences will be through their aura of friendship and their music that touches hearts and souls.